Thursday, August 11, 2011

Spotlight List: Fractured Fairy Tales

Fractured Fairy Tales

My previous Spotlight List posts, like Fairy Tale Retellings, Little Red Riding Hood Retold, and Sleeping Beauty Retold may have tipped you off to the fact that I love fairy tale retellings. What these lists may not have conveyed, however, is my great love of humorous stories. I like to laugh. So it should come as no surprise that I absolutely adore fractured fairy tales.

What are fractured fairy tales? Basically the author takes a fairy tale, writes a retelling, but turns everything on its head all the while poking fun at all of the classic features of fairy tales. The best fractured fairy tales manage to present this humor in a good natured manner so it comes across more like friendly ribbing and not outright mockery.

At least, that's what I consider the best. Here are some of my favorites that, while written for MG audiences, are still totally appropriate for older readers as well.

Dealing with Dragons by Patricia C. Wrede
Release Date: 1990
Pages: 212
Goodreads Page

Princess Cimorene is not your average princess, and she's perfectly happy with it. In fact, she has no interest in being a typical princess and to prove her point, she runs away to live with the dragon Kazul. There she finds adventure, conspiracy, mystery, and friendship.

Witches, dragons, princesses, wizards, and princes make up the cast of this fantastic fractured fairy tale. The genre is lovingly turned on its head and treated to a near-constant stream of tongue in cheek rubs. Cimorene is sweet and spunky, but it is the dragon Kazul who stole my heart. This is the first book in the Enchanted Forest Chronicles, but it can easily be read as a standalone.

Goose Chase by Patrice Kindl
Release Date: 2000
Pages: 224
Goodreads Page

After sharing her meager food with an old woman, Alexandra is transformed from a poor goose girl into a princess with hair that sheds gold dust, tears of diamonds, and unparallelled beauty. This sounds good, right? Think again. Her gifts land her the attentions of two rival princes who lock her in a Rapunzel-like tower while they decide who gets to marry her. A daring escape orchestrated by her intrepid geese kicks off this tale and sends Alexandra on a journey where she encounters hungry ogres, greedy kings, and a prince who may not be as stupid as he first appears.

While Alexandra could use an attitude adjustment, her sarcastic quips are hilarious. Filled with funny moments, Goose Chase is a delightful, quick read that is sure to appeal to fans of fractured fairy tales.

A Hidden Magic by Vivian Vande Velde
Release Date: 1985
Pages: 192
Goodreads Page

Jennifer *IS* your typical princess, and she's just fine with that. When she meets the handsome Prince Alexander, she knows she should fall madly in love with him. Except she doesn't really. He's kind of a jerk. But Jennifer knows her duty as a princess and so she tries to love him anyway. When Alexander's rudeness gets him cursed by a local witch, it is up to Jennifer to save him. Enlisting the help of a cute wizard, Jennifer sets out to undo the witch's curse, but the more she tries to comply with her princess duty, the more she finds herself starting to disagree with tradition.

It's no secret that I adore Vivian Vande Velde's books. While not my favorite of all her books, A Hidden Magic is a quick, funny read that left me with a smile on my face. Jennifer's status as an "ordinary" princess sets her apart from many of the feisty anti-princess girls that usually star in fractured fairy tales.

The Ugly Princess and the Wise Fool by Margaret Gray
Release Date: October 1, 2002
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. 
Pages: 176
Goodreads Page

Princesses are supposed to be beautiful, but Princess Rose is decidedly ugly. Looking to impress the handsome Prince Parsley, Rose begs her fairy godmother for the gift of beauty. Rose quickly learns that beauty isn't all it's cracked up to be (and neither is Prince Parsley). Desperate to undo the gift, Rose enlists the help of the wise fool Jasper (wisdom has been banned, so the intelligent Jasper has to go undercover as a fool) to help her undo her wish.

I was in near-constant laughter throughout this whole book. The messages are sweet, the characters adorable, and the "fractured" parts absolutely hilarious. There is a prequel to this book (The Lovesick Salesman), but they can be read in any order and both are standalones.

Rapunzel: The One with All the Hair by Wendy Mass
Release Date: June 1, 2006
Publisher: Scholastic
Pages: 208
Goodreads Page

Rapunzel is locked in her tower and trying to find a way out. She's frustrated, offended, and VERY displeased. The Prince is bored in his castle with no adventures to keep him busy and an annoying cousin pestering him. The two storylines run parallel for most of the book and then intersect toward the end.

This is another one that had me chuckling throughout. The prince's dry humor and Rapunzel's exaggerated lamentations gave each narration a distinct, but equally hilarious, voice. Though much is original, Wendy Mass also manages to stick pretty close to the traditional story.

What are some of your favorite fractured fairy tales? I know there are a ton I haven't mentioned here. Have you read any of these books? Feel free to add links to your reviews!

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  1. I love pretty much any fairy tale retelling AND I love to laugh so thank you for the recommendations as I was only familiar with the first and the last books. I have added the others to my goodreads tbr list.

  2. This is one of my favorite categories of books. I've read the first three, and have been keeping my eye on the last one. Fractured Fairy Tales are fantastic. Some of my favorites are Vivian Vande Velde's short story collections such as The Rumplestilsktin Problem and Tales from the Brothers Grimm and Sisters Weird. Also wonderful is the ever-popular Ella Enchanted. I could go on and on. Thanks for posting this list - I love these books and I'm excited to read what other people recommend.

  3. Sheri Tepper wrote Beauty which is a fractured fairy tale but it's not a humorous story. It pokes fun of the fairy tales in a very sort of dire/serious manner. It's actually a really good book and I loved the deeper insights and thought provoking themes in it.

  4. I love fairytale retellings but I don't think I've ever read a fracture fairytale. The great thing about the books you've chosen is that they're on the shorter side so I can easily change that :)

  5. I haven't read any of these, but I love fractured fairy tales. There's nothing like a good twist to keep me entertained!

  6. Okay the BOOKS all sound good, but Smalls! Those covers! My eyes are burning!

    Goose Chase looks like a Disney straight-to-DVD movie jacket.

  7. I don't think I had heard about these particular ones, but I love the idea of them!
    I'm always sold when it has to do with fairytales :D

  8. Hah I liked Dealing With Dragons! I actually bought it for my little sister but never read it >_<
    The cover and blurb of the Rapunzel one looks especially amusing lol

  9. What a fabulous list! I haven't heard of any of these, but I want to read them all. I think I'd like fractured fairy tales better than real ones.

    BTW...I reviewed Cascade on my blog today.

  10. Haha, Dealing with Dragons! Once of the first fantasy books I ever read. I was obsessed. In fact, thinking about it now makes me want to dig out my copy...

  11. This was a super fun post :) Thanks for sharing these - i hadn't heard of a lot of these, and I LOVE fractured fairy tales :)

  12. Ooh, this is a great list for me! I think I tend to get bored with regular fairy tale retellings because they tend to be pretty predictable, obviously because I know the story already. So I think a fractured fairy tale would be a great way to make a story original!

  13. Bookworm1858, You’re welcome! I hope you like them and laugh a lot :)

    Pica, This is one of my favorite categories too. I still have to read Ella Enchanted. I know, I know :)

    Need Tea, Sheri Tepper is another author I’ve been meaning to read but haven’t yet. I’ll add that one to my list, thanks!

    A Canadian Girl, Yes, you’ll be able to fly right through them. Hope you like them!

    Natalie, If you like fractured fairy tales then definitely give these a shot. They’re all MG, but I was laughing with each of them.

    Logan, Haha I know! The covers area pretty bad. Except Dealing with Dragons. I like that one because the expressions are so perfect for the characters. There are other covers for Goose Chase, but yeah this one is the most Disney DVD :P

    Alex, I think you would like them! :)

    Laura, aw, your sister should read it! I thought the Rapunzel one was very cute.

    Alison, Thanks! You should check them out! They’re all super quick reads and very funny. Thanks for the heads up on your Cascade review!! I can’t get enough of those books :)

    Couchpotatocritic, I’m getting the urge to pick up Dealing with Dragons again too :)

    Erica, Thanks! I hope you like them if you try them :)

    Aylee, Haha, I can see how a straight up fairy tale retelling could be boring (but not for me, I looove reading the same stories over and over like that). These stories are all pretty original and play with the fairy tales in amusing ways.

  14. The Ugly Princess and The Wise Fool and Goose Chase both sound good and the one with Rapunzel in it looks funny. I'm going to see if my library has copies of them. I love this segment on your blog!


  15. I hope this isn't too, too shocking, but I've never really read a fractured fairy-tale! All these sound adorable and funny. Great list (as always)!

  16. Heather, I hope your library has them! Especially The Ugly Princess... I thought that one was so funny.

    Book Geek, haha, well, nothing should shock me as far as not reading certain books. After my Fantasy Authors I Should Have Read post, I'm in no position to talk :P

  17. I don't think I've ever read a fractured fairy tale before, though I do love how their covers seem to portray that hint of humor you said they have :).

    Also, I love your Spotlight feature. Not sure if I commented about that before.... Time to go read the other fairy tale ones :D.


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