Thursday, June 16, 2011

Spotlight List: Fairy Tale Retellings

Spotlight is a feature I do where I pick a topic or theme and then highlight some books that fall into that theme.

Fairy Tale Retellings

I LOVE fairy tale retellings. I find it endlessly fascinating to see the different ways authors can interpret the same stories. For this Spotlight List, I've gathered together a few fairy tale retellings that are based on stories that are retold less frequently and have been retold here in very unique ways.

Keturah and Lord Death by Martine Leavitt
Release Date: November 28, 2006
Publisher: Front Street Press
Pages: 216
Goodreads Page

A retelling of the Scheherazade tale, this one is set not set in the traditional Persian background. Instead, this version takes place in "generic English medieval village" during the time of the Black Plague. After following a hart, Keturah becomes lost in the forest where she meets Lord Death, who has come to collect her. Not wanting to die, Keturah strikes a deal with Lord Death: If she can find her true love in a day she will be allowed to live. Keturah relates her journey to Lord Death, capturing him in her story and prolonging her life for days with the telling of her tale. Along the way Keturah struggles to save her village from plague and teaches Lord Death a thing or two about love.

This was such a beautiful and unexpected gem. The lyrical writing transported me into the story, where Keturah's struggles captured my heart. The tale worked perfectly in this new setting. Added bonus: who knew Death could be so hot?

Toads and Diamonds by Heather Tomlinson
Release Date: March 30, 2010
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co.
Pages: 288
Goodreads Page

This is a retelling of the fairy tale by the same name. Two sisters are each visited by a goddess and given a gift...or a curse. When one sister speaks, flowers and precious jewels fall from her lips. When the other sister speaks, toads and snakes appear. These gifts drastically change the sisters' lives and send them each down a new life path.

Though traditionally set in the "generic English medieval village," Heather Tomlinson resets the tale in a made up version of historical India. The change of setting is a stroke of genius and allows the story to go in a completely different direction. I loved it! This is one of those cases when the original seems like an ok attempt and the retelling feels like the way the story was meant to be.

Violet Eyes by Debbie Viguie
Release Date: February 23, 2010
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Pages: 195
Goodreads Page

This is a retelling of The Princess and the Pea--a story I haven't seen retold too often. Though it seems like there isn't much for an author to do with this story, Debbie Viguie manages to spin a tale that is utterly delightful.

Violet discovers she is a princess and is sent to the Prince's castle to partake in a series of tests to win the Prince's hand in marriage. However, the tests are not what they seem. I completely loved Violet! She's such a sweet character. Though there is a love story here, my favorite part of the book was Violet herself and her interactions with the other princesses. I also loved reading along as Violet uncovered the true meaning of the tests.

Book of a Thousand Days by Shannon Hale
Release Date: September 18, 2007
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Children's Books
Pages: 320
Goodreads Page

This is a retelling of the Grimm fairy tale Maid Maleen. The original story takes place in the "generic medieval village" but Shannon Hale twists the tale around and sets it in a fictionalized version of Mongolia. The change in location is perfect, with the incorporation of Dashti's nomatic culture adding a depth and richness to the book that is as interesting to learn about as the actual story.

Now, I have to be honest here and say that I didn't actually like this book. The two main characters both irritated me. There's also something about Shannon Hale's writing style that doesn't click with me for some very disappointing reason. But take that with a huge grain of salt and don't let me turn you off from the book. Shannon Hale is positively adored by zillions of people and I can see this book being loved by fans of fairy tale retellings.

Golden by Cameron Dokey
Release Date: February 28, 2006
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Pages: 179
Goodreads Page

I loved this book! This is a retelling of Rapunzel, but in this version Rapunzel is bald. Yes, bald! That may sound gimmicky or weird, but it actually works beautifully in the story. Cameron Dokey comes up with a fantastic way to make that plot device work while still retaining the main elements of the original story. The real strength, however, is Rapunzel herself, who in this version of the tale is a girl I totally love and want to be best friends with. Of course, there's also a sweet love story, but on top of that we also get a completely heartwarming mother-daughter relationship.

There are so many fairy tale retellings (luckily!) What are some of your favorites? Have you read any of these books? Feel free to add links to your reviews!

Want to see more Spotlight Lists?
 More fairy tale lists:
Sleeping Beauty Retold
Little Red Riding Hood Retold

Click HERE to see more of my lists
Click to see some from Splash of Our Worlds


  1. Oh, I loved your picks! And I don't think I've read any of them yet -though I've read the Cameron Dokey Before, I loved her Cinderella retelling.

    I need to check these out! thanks for the spotlight.

  2. Aw, sorry to hear Shannon Hale's writing hasn't clicked with you! Have you read The Goose Girl? That's my favourite of the ones I've read of hers. I have Keturah & Lord Death out from the library but haven't read it yet - I know I should though because I keep seeing bloggers recommend it!

  3. I have a couple of the Once Upon a Time books, but I haven't found them to be particularly inspiring. I didn't have either of the ones you featured, though, so I'll have to check them out. However, I do love fairy tale retellings, so this is probably my favorite of your Spotlight Lists. I'm surprised to see no Robin McKinley on your list. She did some great retellings of Sleeping Beauty. Also, Mercedes Lackey has a whole series that does them. I particularly liked Phoenix and Ashes (I think that's the title). It's a Cinderella story.

    I wonder what the most often retold fairy tales are? My guesses: Cinderella and Beauty and the Beast.

  4. Oh! I remember your review for Toads and Diamonds, and have been wanting to read it ever since.

    Thanks for this feature. I love retelling too, though I haven't read as many as I'd like.

  5. I've been curious about retellings so thanks so much for this post! I'm going to look up a few of these soon.

  6. I haven't read many retellings. Only Devoured which is a retelling of Snow White. I certainly would like to try more. Great post :)

  7. Excellent list! The only fairytale retelling I've actually read is Red Riding Hood, and I wasn't impressed by that. However I'm definitely interested in reading some of these! Love fairytales so I'm keen to read some retellings.

  8. Awesome list! I absolutely loved Keturah and Lord Death, it was so different from most fairy tales I've read. Out of all the Once Upon a Time novels I've read I liked Violet Eyes the least, probably because it was too close to the original plot.

  9. ENTWINED by Heather Dixon. Love love love. Not all of us were familiar with the fairytale it retold -- the 12 dancing princesses -- but all of us loved the book!

  10. Great list! I'm especially interested in Toads and Diamonds. Nothing is ever set in India.

  11. Oh, Keturah and Lord Death. I liked that one. That Shannon Hale book was okay. I loved her Goose Girl one. I liked Toads and Diamonds. Haha.

    How can you forget Juliet Marillier? She's like the QUEEN of retellings. I love her writing, it's so gorgeous!

  12. YAY FAIRY TALE RETELLINGS!!! I love them so much:) I really enjoyed Entwined by Heather Dixon even though I wasn't aware it was a fairy tale until after I finished. I also enjoy the Alex Flinn books:) Thanks for this list!

  13. I love fairy tale retellings too! I liked Keturah and Lord Death but I haven't read any of the others though I have read other books from the Once Upon a Time series. My favourite one from them would have to be Tracy Lynn's Snow.

    As for other fairy tale retellings, I've got Entwined on my wishlist and enjoyed Jessica Day George's Princess of the Midnight Ball. I've got Princess of Glass on my wishlist.

  14. Alex, I loved Before Midnight! That one is just a smidgen under Violet Eyes and Golden for me. I’m also saving that one for a Cinderella retelling spotlight list :)

    Danya, I haven’t read The Goose Girl, but I do think I’ll give it a try. It seems to be so universally liked. I hope you like Keturah and Lord Death!

    Rubita, Aw, too bad about the Once Upon a Time books. Which ones have you read? I really liked those two, Before Midnight, the Red Riding Hood one, and Beauty Sleep. The rest were just ok (though I haven’t read them all yet). I haven’t read Robin McKinley or Mercedes Lackey yet! I know, I should be ashamed. From the ones I know, Beauty and the Beast and Cinderella do seem to be retold a lot. There are also a ton of 12 Dancing Princess stories. I have spotlight lists for all of those coming up.

    Missie, It’s crazy how many retellings there are! I could probably spend the rest of my life just reading all of them :P

    Stephanie, You’re welcome! I added links for two other spotlight lists I did on fairy tales. I also have a few more scheduled.

    Nic, Oh, I read that one! I liked it, but it wasn’t my favorite. I think I was also expecting something different from it with those two guys on the cover.

    Belle, Thanks! Is that the one based on the movie? I’ve heard it wasn’t very good, but I love the cover.

    Laura, Thanks! I was surprised by Keturah and Lord Death! I really liked how she adapted the story. Too bad about Violet Eyes. I really liked Violet and her friendship with the princesses.

    We Heart YA, I can’t wait to read Entwined! That’s my next Review Comparison book, if you’re interested. I loved Jessica Day George’s version Princess of the Midnight Ball. That one set the bar really high, so I hope Entwined can compare favorably :)

    Alison, I know! It’s such an interesting country, too. Heather Tomlinson did such a good job describing the location. I felt like I was there.

    Need Tea, Um, because I haven’t read Juliet Marillier yet *runs and hides* I DO plan to fix that though :)

    Jenny, Me too! I remember your review! I’m doing a review comparison of Entwined if you’re interested in participating. :) Which means I’d better get to reading it ASAP! I really like Alex Flinn’s fairy tale retellings, too. Especially A Kiss in Time.

    A Canadian Girl, I haven’t read Snow yet. I’d heard mixed reviews, so I’m glad to hear you liked it. I loved Princess of the Midnight Ball! I hope Entwined is as good. I liked Princess of Glass a lot, but not as much as Princess of the Midnight Ball. I hope you like it!

  15. Wow, I am completely sold on Keturah and Lord Death! I love these Spotlight posts! You so rock!!

  16. Bald Rapunzel? But what does the prince climb?

  17. Lah, Yay! Hope you like Keturah and Lord Death!

    Logan, You'll have to read it to find out :P

  18. Small! 12 Dancing Princesses is my favorite. Why are you reading my mind? I love you! In a platonic blogger friend sort of way. ;p

  19. Keturah and Lord Death couldn't sound any less like a fairy tale! I remember your Toads and Diamonds review and thinking I'd love to read that book. Now the Debbie Vigue book, I hated those books she did with Nancy Holder so much I don't trust any books with either of their names on them. But, I do trust you and the Princess and The Pea is an all time favorite of mine. I might have to check that one out. Thanks for looking all these up and bringing them to our attention Small. You go above and beyond!


  20. I haven't read any of these, but Keturah and the Lord Death was already on my TBR list. I guess I'll have to add a couple more of these! I love a good re-telling.

  21. Oh, I've read all but Keturah and Lord Death (which I haven't HEARD of! Thanks for the rec!) Oh, and if you want a hot Death, have you read Jackie Morse Kessler's THE FOUR HORSEMEN quartet? I can't wait for the fourth and final book--Death's book--to come out!

    Let me see...I reviewed TOADS & DIAMONDS during Fairy Tale Fortnight (, but haven't reviewed the others!

    One of my all-time favorite re-tellings is HEART'S BLOOD by Juliet Marillier ( Two really good 2011 debuts are ENTWINED and THE FALSE PRINCESS (which more has the flavor of it!). I've reviewed both of those as well..but you knew I reviewed ENTWINED, lol.

    Keep an eye out for my friend Marissa Meyer's debut novel, CINDER, on Jan. 3, 2012. It's the first in a quartet and with all the bidding wars and foreign rights deals, I think it will be big! So happy for her!

    If you want to re-try Hale, THE GOOSE GIRL and PRINCESS ACADEMY are my two favorites by her!

  22. I haven't read anything of these when I think about it. Well I started Book of a Thousand Days, but I didn't finish it. The cover of Toads and Diamonds looks gorgeous though. Yes, I'm guilty of judging books by their covers. :)

  23. Rubita, :D
    Heather, Ooh, but Keturah and Lord Death is so nice :) I’ve heard a lot of really mixed stuff about those Debbie Viguie and Nancy Holder books, but I looooved Debbie’s Once Upon a Time books. Especially Violet Eyes. I hope you like it!

    Couch Potato Critic, Hope you like them! :)

    A Backwards Story, You're like the queen of fairy tale retellings :) I actually did read Hunger by Jackie Morse Kessler, but I didn't like her Death. I'm not a big fan of Kurt Cobain. I remember your Toads and Diamonds review! I really need to read Juliet Marillier. You and a few other readers are going to have a field day with one of my upcoming spotlight lists :)

    I read The False Princess, but I really need to read Entwined soon! Especially since it's going to be the next review comparison book. I will totally keep an eye out for Cinder. Thanks for the heads up!! I've tried Princess Academy but I couldn't get into it. I'll still give The Goose Girl a try though.

    Vy, I didn't love Book of a Thousand Days either. I'm a huge cover judge too, and the Toads and Diamonds cover is beautiful :)

  24. I thought you might do a fairy tale retelling list! I haven't actually read any of these yet but I have read Shannon Hale's Goose Girl. It's a shame you didn't get on her style of writing. The next retelling I'm planning to read is Entwined- I'm looking forward to your review comparison for it :)

  25. Ooh, I loved Keturah and Lord Death. I didn't realize it was a fairy tale retelling!! I haven't read any of the others though. The only books I can think of right now that have to do with fairy tales retellings are Tris & Izzie and A Long, Long Sleep (though the latter is incredibly different from the fairy tale the name implies it's from).


It's all about friendly conversation here at Small Review :) I'd love to hear your thoughts!

Be sure to check back again because I do make every effort to reply to your comments here.

Because I am absolutely terrible about following through with blog awards, I can't in good conscience accept any more. Thank you very much for thinking of me though!

Spam WILL be deleted. Attacks on myself or other comments WILL be deleted.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...