Category Archives: Fairy Tales Retold

Fairy Tales which have been given a twist which makes them unique from their source-tale, but are still clearly related.

Followed by Frost

Holmberg, Charlie N. Followed by Frost (2015). 47North. 232 Pages

24524971From Amazon

Seventeen-year-old Smitha’s wealth, status, and beauty make her the envy of her town—until she rejects a strange man’s marriage proposal and disastrous consequences follow. Smitha becomes cursed, and frost begins to encompass everything she touches. Banished to the hills, hunted by villagers, and chilled to the very core of her soul, she finds companionship with Death, who longs to coax her into his isolated world. But Smitha’s desire for life proves stronger than despair, and a newfound purpose gives her hope. Will regrets over the past and an unexpected desire for a man she cannot touch be enough to warm Smitha’s heart, or will Death forever still it?

First Lines

I have known cold.

I have known the cold that freezes to the bones, to the spirit itself. The cold that stills the heart and crystallizes the blood. The kind of cold that even fire fears, that can turn a woman to glass.

I have seen Death.

The cold lured him to me. I saw him near my home, his dark hair rippling over one shoulder like thick forest smoke as he stooped over the bed of the quarryman’s only son.

Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Fairy Tales Retold, Fantasy, Romance, Young Adult Fiction

Spinning Starlight

Lewis, R.C. Spinning Starlight. (2015). Disney-Hyperion. 336 Pages

SpinningStarlightFrom Goodreads

Sixteen-year-old heiress and paparazzi darling Liddi Jantzen hates the spotlight. But as the only daughter in the most powerful tech family in the galaxy, it’s hard to escape it. So when a group of men show up at her house uninvited, she assumes it’s just the usual media-grubs. That is, until shots are fired.

Liddi escapes, only to be pulled into an interplanetary conspiracy more complex than she ever could have imagined. Her older brothers have been caught as well, trapped in the conduits between the planets. And when their captor implants a device in Liddi’s vocal cords to monitor her speech, their lives are in her hands: One word and her brothers are dead.

Desperate to save her family from a desolate future, Liddi travels to another world, where she meets the one person who might have the skills to help her bring her eight brothers home-a handsome dignitary named Tiav. But without her voice, Liddi must use every bit of her strength and wit to convince Tiav that her mission is true. With the tenuous balance of the planets deeply intertwined with her brothers’ survival, just how much is Liddi willing to sacrifice to bring them back?

Haunting and mesmerizing, this retelling of Hans Christian Andersen’sThe Wild Swans strings the heart of the classic with a stunning, imaginative world as a star-crossed family fights for survival in this companion to Stitching Snow.

First Lines

After sixteen years, you think I’d be used to the incessant buzz of vid-cams swarming to chronicle every breath I take. I’m not. Good thing, too, or I might not have noticed when one of the tiny airbourne devices slips into the hovercar with me like an errant bumblebee.

Continue reading

2 Comments

Filed under Book Review, Fairy Tales Retold, Fantasy, Romance, Sci-Fi, Teen Fiction, Young Adult Fiction

A Tale of Two Castles

Levine, Gail Carson. A Tale of Two Castles (2011).336 Pages. Harper Collins. $16.99*

This review is pre-release: It comes out May 10, 2011

Ella Enchanted was one of my favorite childhood books. My mom gave it to me for Christmas in 1998– she’s big on writing dates in books which are gifts– and I’ve read it so many times that a few pages are loose, the spine is falling to pieces, and it’s stained all over. I’ve got an abiding love for Gail Carson Levine, in part because of Ella Enchanted, and in part because she’s got a knack for writing magical stories which children are guaranteed to love.

Synopsis

Twelve year-old Elodie has just set out on her first adventure, and her first step toward adulthood. It is time for her to head to Two Castles and become an apprentice, though she cannot afford a short apprenticeship, so she must commit to the 10-year “free” term. Despite her parent’s wishes– that she apprentice to a weaver, Elodie seeks out an apprenticeship with the Two Castles mansioners.

Things don’t go according to plan, and Elodie soon finds herself working for the dragon Meenore and brushing up on her skills of “deduction, induction, and common sense.” But something is wrong in Two Castles, and Elodie’s job will not be as easy as it first seemed.

First Lines

Mother wiped her eyes on her sleeve and held me tight. I wept onto her shoulder. She released me while I went on weeping. A tear slipped into the strait through a crack in the wooden dock. Salt water to salt water, a drop of me in the brine that would separate me from home.

Father’s eyes were red. He pulled me into a hug, too. Albin stood to the side a few feet and blew his nose with a honk. He could blow his nose a dozen ways. A hong was the saddest.

Continue reading

3 Comments

Filed under Book Review, Children's Fiction, Fairy Tales Retold, Fantasy, High Fantasy, Mystery & Suspense, Young Adult Fiction

Deerskin

McKinley, Robin. Deerskin (1993). 309 Pages. Ace Fantasy. $7.99

Warning: This book deals with rape an other “adult” themes.

From the Cover:

As Princess Lissar reaches womanhood, it is clear to all the kingdom that in her breathtaking beauty she is the mirror image of her mother, the queen. But this seeming blessing forces her to flee for safety from her father’s wrath. With her loyal dog Ash at her side, Lissar unlocks a door to a world of magic, where she finds the key to her survival– and an adventure beyond her wildest dreams…

First Lines

Many years later she remembered how her parents had looked to her when she was a small child: her father as tall as a tree, and merry and bright and golden, with her beautiful black-haired mother at his side. She saw them, remembered them, as if she were looking at a painting; they were too splendid to be real, and always they seemed at some little distance from her, from all onlookers. They were always standing close together as she remembered them, often gazing into each other’s eyes, often handclasped, often smiling; and always there was a radiance like sunlight flung around them.

Continue reading

8 Comments

Filed under Adult Fiction, Book Review, Fairy Tales Retold, Fantasy, High Fantasy

Ash

Lo, Malinda. Ash (2010). 272 Pages. Little, Brown Books. $8.99

Aisling is Cinderella, and not Cinderella at the same time. Her mother died when she was young, and her father not long after– though he survived long enough to marry the cruel Lady Isolde. Without her parents to protect her, Ash is at the mercy of her stepmother and her stepsisters, who use her as a maid to settle her father’s debts. Her stepmother especially grinds her down, allowing freedoms only when she is gone.

It is when Lady Isolde, Ana and Clara are gone that Ash learns to live, exploring the magical woods near her home, where she meets Sidhean, an attractive, and strangely protective fairy* who becomes her only friend in this oppressive world.

When Ash is older, things begin to change. She meets Kaisa– the King’s Huntress– who invites her along on a hunt. Desperate to attend, she asks Sidhean for help, which he grants with a steep price. During the hunt, she meets Prince Aidan, heir to the throne, and eligible bachelor.

The hunt leads to the traditional ball, which she attends because Kaisa asks her to– where Aidan is completely enchanted by Aisling– and Aisling must escape before the magic runs out at midnight. Things progress from here in a not-quite Cinderella-esque fashion, and ultimately Aisling finds that she must fight for what she desires.

First Lines

Aisling’s mother died at midsummer. She had fallen sick so suddenly that some of the villagers wondered if the fairies had come and taken her, for she was still young and beautiful. She was buried three days later beneath the hawthorn tree behind the house, just as twilight was darkening the sky.

Continue reading

4 Comments

Filed under Book Review, Fairy Tales Retold, Fantasy, High Fantasy, Romance, Young Adult Fiction

I am Tama, Lucky Cat

Heinrichs, Wendy & Yoshiko Jaeggi (illustrator). I Am Tama, Lucky Cat: A Japanese Legend (2011). 32 Pages. Peachtree Publishers. $16.95

This review is pre-release. It is due out August 1, 2011.

When I joined NetGalley.com, I spent ages scouring the books, looking for those which looked interesting. Luckily for me, I found I am Tama, Lucky Cat, fairly quickly. I am big on mythology from around the world– especially Japanese, as I was an East Asian Studies minor– so I was excited to get to see this book early*.

The Story:

Tama the Calico– and therefore Lucky– cat went in search of shelter. She was lucky enough to find a caring monk in a worn down temple. To gain entrance, she sat in front of the doorway with her paw held up in traditional maneki neko pose. She brings happiness to the monk, and one day brings him luck as her beckoning saves a wandering lord. He becomes the patron of her temple, and everyone’s luck improves.

The Illustrations:

The illustrations were well balanced to the story, with soft colors and nice composition. It is the sort of storybook which is mellow enough to make good bedtime reading.

Thoughts:

I’m always excited to see children’s books exploring mythology, especially when they do it well. With lovely illustrations, and simple-but-effective vocabulary, this book manages to convey the story in a way which kids will relate to. In the back of the book is a brief note with some information on the legend, including speculation as to which temple and which lord the legend may be about.

I’ll give this one a solid 4/5; I really liked it, and was impressed, though I was not completely blown away.

____________________________________

* Disclosure: I received my copy free from the publisher through NetGalley.com

4 Comments

Filed under Book Review, Children's Fiction, Fairy Tales Retold

Dust City

Weston, Robert Paul. Dust City (2010). 299 Pages. RazorBill. $16.99

From Goodreads:

Who’s afraid of the big bad wolf?

His son, that’s who.

Ever since his father’s arrest for the murder of Little Red Riding Hood, teen wolf Henry Whelp has kept a low profile in a Home for Wayward Wolves . . . until a murder at the Home leads Henry to believe his father may have been framed.

Now, with the help of his kleptomaniac roommate, Jack, and a daring she-wolf named Fiona, Henry will have to venture deep into the heart of Dust City; a rundown, gritty metropolis where fairydust is craved by everyone and controlled by a dangerous mob of Water Nixies and their crime boss leader, Skinner.

Can Henry solve the mystery of his family’s sinister past? Or, like his father before him, is he destined for life as a big bad wolf?

First Lines

Once upon a time, fairydust came from where you’d expect. From fairies. I was only a cub, so I don’t remember much of what the City was like back then. But I have a strong sense that things were different. Dreams could come true. You read about it in the paper. I’ve seen the clippings.

Continue reading

2 Comments

Filed under Book Review, Fairy Tales Retold, Fantasy, Horror, Speculative Fiction, Young Adult Fiction

Stork

Delsol, Wendy. Stork (2010). 357 Pages. Candlewick. $15.99

I was seriously impressed by this book. It manages to simultaneously be about a stereotypical fashion-obsessed California girl, a small Minnesota town, and old Icelandic mythology. Not a lot of books can pull that off, especially not debut novels. If you liked Maggie Stiefvater’s Shiver, I think it’s likely you’ll also like Stork.

From the Cover

Moving from LA to nowhere Minnesota, sixteen-year-old Katla Leblanc expected the local fashion scene to be frozen in time. What she didn’t expect was induction into the Icelandic Stork Society, an ancient order of women charged with a unique mystical duty. Not only is Katla the youngest member, but Hulda, the society’s omen-guided leader, immediately bestows the coveted Second Chair on her– a decision that ruffles a few feathers.

As if that weren’t enough, Katla also has to deal with her parent’s divorce and the social aftermath of a bad date with popular but creepy Wade. Katla, however, isn’t one to sit on her designer-jean-clad behind, and soon she’s assigned the fashion column for the school paper and making new friends.

Things would be looking up if it weren’t for editor in chief Jack. Even though they argue every time they meet, Katla is inexplicably drawn to him. Juggling her home life, school, and Stork duties, will Katla be able to unravel the mystery surrounding Jack? More importantly, will she find a dress in time for Homecoming?

Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Book Review, Contemporary Romance, Fairy Tales Retold, Fantasy, Romance, Urban Fantasy, Young Adult Fiction

Rose Daughter

McKinley, Robin. Rose Daughter (1998). 287 Pages. Ace. $6.99

Robin McKinley is known for her fairytale retellings; Beauty and Rose Daughter both retell Beauty & the Beast, while Spindle’s End retells Sleeping Beauty, and Deerskin retells Donkey Skin, which is a lesser known tale, I believe. All of her books exist in worlds steeped in magic, full of amazing things, which is part of why they (and the characters who inhabit them) are so very interesting.

It’s always hard to know what to say about fairytale retellings; everyone knows the basic story, the beginning, and the end. Beauty is taken from her family, and eventually she falls in love with the Beast. It’s that middle part, the part that can vary, the way they get from A to B that really makes the story unique.

Rose Daughter is about Beauty, Jeweltongue, and Lionheart, three sisters who were not very close while they lived in the city– there were too many other things to do. Each girl comes into her own when they move out to Longchance– and Rose Cottage. Jeweltongue learns to sew, and make beautiful clothing, Lionheart disguises herself as a boy and tends to horses, and Beauty gardens. When their father gets a message saying that one of his long lost ships has arrived, he departs, and it is upon his return that he encounters the Beast.

Beauty’s time at the castle is special, and a bit unique. Every day when she wakes up, there are more animals, moving back in thanks to her. There is a mystery– revolving around cheese, though it is not a silly mystery as that statement makes it sound– and some danger. The Beast has hidden depths, and ultimately, Beauty must make a very important choice which changes the course of their life together.

First Lines:

Her earliest memory was of waking up from the dram. It was also her only clear memory of her mother. Her mother was beautiful, dashing, the toast of the town. Her youngest daughter remembered the blur of activity, friends and hangers-on, soothsayers, and staff, the bad-tempered pet dragon on a leash– bad tempered on account of the ocarunda leaves in his food … — the constant glamour and motion which was her mother and her mother’s world.

Thoughts

Rose Daughter may be another Beauty & the Beast retelling, but it is very different from Beauty, this story’s predecessor.

Beauty is, in fact, a beautiful girl, whose talents are mostly of the quiet variety; she is good with plants, roses will grow for her, and she seems to radiate calm and peace, helping her entire family stay together through the worst of it all. Her sisters are flashier, and more vibrant; Jeweltongue is known for her wit and cleverness, Lionheart for her temper and bravery (though each discover more traits which lead to greater happiness), but without Beauty, they would have been lost. Even Beauty’s father discovers a quieter sort of happiness, and his own talent.

The time Beauty spends at the castle is interesting; she is overwhelmed by the silence of the place, and tries to understand (at least a little) the magic which keeps the place running. Her relationship with the Beast is complicated from the start, which somehow makes it easier to accept her feelings for him; she sees early on that there is some humanity in him. Even more interesting is the idea that the Beast is not a Beast because of an enchantress’s curse, but rather because of something else.

Most of the book is very good; we get a lot about Beauty and her family, which makes them feel real. We get less about the Beast, but we still get a fair amount of his story. We lack a lot about the residents of Longchance, which is mostly ok, because the story isn’t about them, but they do play a major role in plot development. There is a difference in chronology between the Beast’s castle and the mundane world, and it is never questioned or explained, just allowed to be. There are a few more things which could have strengthened the story, but it is not bad because they are lacking.

Despite its flaws, it is a good book with a solid story, and is well worth reading. (It also stands up to multiple reads, which is important, as I am known to re-read favorites.) It gets a 4/5.

Leave a comment

Filed under Book Review, Fairy Tales Retold, Fantasy, High Fantasy, Historical Romance, Romance, Young Adult Fiction

The Outlaws of Sherwood

McKinley, Robin. The Outlaws of Sherwood (2003 ed.). 342 Pages. Firebird. $6.99

From the Back Cover

He never meant to be an outlaw. But a split second changed everything.

In the days of King Richard the Lionheart, a young forester named Robin sets out one morning for the Nottingham Fair, but he never arrives. By the end of the day a man lies dead in the King’s Forest, and Robin is an outlaw with a price on his head.

From then on, Robin is on the run, hiding deep in Sherwood Forest– but he is not alone. First joined by his friends Much and Marian, then by more and more people who despise the Norman lords who tax them blind, Robin builds a community of outlaws in a forest who risk the gallows and the sword for the sake of justice. As he does, he gains a new name: Robin Hood.

First Lines

A small vagrant breeze came from nowhere and barely flicked the feather tips as the arrow sped on its way. It shivered in its flight, and fell, a little off course– just enough that the arrow missed the slender tree it was aimed at, and struck tiredly and low into the bole of another tree, twenty paces beyond the mark.

Robin sighed and dropped his bow. There were some people, he thought, who not only could shoot accurately– if the breeze hadn’t disturbed it, that last arrow would have flown true– but seemed to know when and where to expect small vagrant breezes, and to allow for them. He was not a bad archer, but his father had been a splendid one, and he was his father’s only child.

Thoughts

Robin Hood is a legend who changes with every telling. Every version has its own agenda, its own twists, and its own characterization. Some even throw in their own characters, to spice things up, and make it novel again. McKinley’s Robin Hood is a different sort; an unwilling champion, who becomes infamous simply by surviving, and becomes a legend by accident. He inherits an agenda from the beliefs of his fans, and this is what makes him so different.

Robin and Marian may be one of my earliest ships. It started with Disney’s Robin Hood, when you knew they were destined for each other, because they were both foxes, and continued through every version I’ve read since. Robin loves Marian, though he never says as much to anyone, and wants her to stay safe, even if it means staying away. Marian loves Robin, and persists with her visits because she cannot help herself, because she knows she is needed, and because she longs for the freedom the forest offers.

Perhaps my favorite plot which is unique to this version is that of Cecil– a boy who refuses to be stopped by anything. He becomes Little John’s protégé, dogging his mentor’s footsteps, and learning about survival. Cecil and Little John become very important toward the end of the book, when they are the only members of Robin’s band to attend the fateful tournament for the golden arrow. Every version does this scene differently, and it’s the sort of constant which allows comparisons between interpretations. This particular tournament is done well, and serves as a sort of climax to the novel.

All-in-all, I really like this version. I have not re-read it many times, because I read it very slowly. I am not sure why it takes me so much longer, but it is worth the time it takes. It gets a 4/5.

3 Comments

Filed under Adult Fiction, Book Review, Fairy Tales Retold, Fantasy, High Fantasy, Historical Romance, Young Adult Fiction