Top Five Wednesday: Favourite Retellings

If you’ve been reading this blog or following our videos for a while now, you know just how much Chelsey and I love fairy tales and folklore. This week’s top five Wednesday was right up our alley. Today we get to talk about our favourite retellings.

Whether they be retellings of some of our favourite fairy tales or different spins on classic novels there were a lot of choices for this list. So without further ado, here is our list… see if you can guess the underlying theme in our picks…

Top Five Wednesday is a book tag started by GingerReadsLainey. Join the goodreads group to get each week’s topic and participate yourselves!

1. Wicked – Gregory Maguire

Chelsey and I read Wicked while we were in high school and both loved it. Wicked was a lot of firsts for me:

  • The first adult fiction novel that I ever read (on my own volition)
  • The first book I ever read that had sex in it
  • The first book I ever read that was a retelling of something (that wasn’t a fairy tale)

This book is full of themes and symbols that one could spend hours discussing and dissecting. It also manages to follow the Wizard of Oz narrative both very closely and very distantly at the same time. You know that the Wicked Witch is going to die at the end of the novel and that death looms over the entire narrative. At the same time the Dorothy story line takes on a darker meaning. Understand this, in Maguire’s Oz, Dorothy is not your friend.

If you haven’t read Wicked and have only seen the musical, understand that these are two completely different beasts. The musical is like popcorn: it’s fun and it’s happy but the book on the other hand is very dark and thought provoking.

2. DEATHLESS – CATHERYNNE M. VALENTE

This is a retelling of a Russian folktale. Deathless is a weird portrait of Russian history that has a fairy tale weaved through it. The novel somehow manages to walk the line between fantasy fiction and historical fiction. The first thing that stood out to me about Deathless was just how beautifully written it was. The novel has that fairy tale melody that mimics oral story telling. The story is just so well put together and flows so beautifully. This was my first introduction to Valente’s writing and after this I will read anything else that she writes.

Check out my review of Deathless here.

3. TEAR YOU APART – SARAH CROSS

Chelsey read Tear You Apart because it sounded interesting and she had gotten a copy through Netgalley. Tear You Apart was a lot of fun. It wasn’t super serious but Chelsey liked the idea of the novel’s setting. It’s a place where you get a fairy tale curse when you’re born and you have to live out this curse for the rest of your life, no matter what. Tear You Apart is kind of like the Tenth Kingdom in a quirky sense. If you want a fairy tale story that’s not too complicated but quirky and a lot of fun, check this one out.

Check out Chelsey’s review of Tear You Apart here.

4. A COURT OF THORNS AND ROSES – SARAH J. MAAS

This was the first book by Sarah J. Mass that I have ever read. I originally picked this novel up because it was billed as a Beauty and the Beast retelling (and Beauty and the Beast is one of my all time favourite fairy tales) crossed with Hades and Persephone. At first I thought that didn’t make any sense, but the more I thought about it and the more I read the novel it dawned on me that these two stories were a match made in heaven. What I found so fascinating about this book is that it doesn’t feel stockholme syndromey. It’s really easy for Beauty and the Beast retellings to fall into that trap. Thorns and Roses manages to dodge that bullet by having Feyre go to live with Tamlin because of a treaty. Once she arrives at his house, he has fulfilled his end of the bargain and just leaves her to get up to her own devices. It’s simple and elegant and takes away the creep factor beautifully.

I had a lot of fun with this novel. The romance was cute and the world was interesting. I will definitely be picking up the next book when it comes out.

Check out my review on A Court of Thorns and Roses here.

5. AN EARTHLY KNIGHT – JANET MCNAUGHTON

I never read this book to Chelsey’s horror. An Earthly Knight is an adaptation of the Tam Lin legend. It follows a knight who has returned from the fairy world and is trying to reintegrate himself with human society. The main character Jenny meets him and falls in love with him but has to save him from this fairy curse. This novel is more adult than what you’re used to finding in the teen section but Chelsey recommends it whole heartedly. I’m not going to lie, I totally stole her copy after we finished filming this review.

If you guess fairy tale retellings YOU ARE CORRECT! If you went more specific and went with retellings of Tamlin… you’re still correct. Trust me, that was a happy coincidence.

What are your favourite retellings? Tell us about them in the comments below.

Until next Wednesday… Happy Reading and also don’t fuck with the fairies!

Written by
Alexandra is always looking for the next book she can devour. She has a love hate relationship with teen fiction specifically when it comes to fantasy, post apocalyptic and failed shakespeare adaptations.

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