Have you finally thawed out from Once Upon a Time’s icy cold cliff-hanger? Well, actually, it was less of a cliff-hanger and more of a total fairy-tale tease. We’re not quite sure if we’re OK with how things ended with our misguided heroes—Emma in the arms of Hook, a man she had been adamant on NOT ending up with, Regina finding love only to have her world crushed like Graham’s heart circa Season One by the return of Robin Hood’s used-to-be dead wife, and don’t even get us started on the lack of substantial consequences to Emma traveling back in time and almost erasing her entire family line.
How about those last 45 seconds? Were you expecting Disney’s newest Princess-turned-Queen to pop up in the unknown little town in Maine? We sure as heck didn’t think so, not this soon anyway. Queen Elsa may be on her way to Storybrooke next season, but if you’re eager to see what happens next, like we are at here at BookTrib HQ, then you’re going to need a little “something-something” to curb that magical appetite for updated fairy tales while you wait.
Let’s kick off this list with one of our childhood favorites: Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine. Who knew a gift from a fairy could turn Ella of Frell’s world so upside down? Like many of our beloved characters in Storybrooke, Ella is faced with an internal battle between obedience and following her heart. It was the first time many of us thought of a “princess” as someone who could hold her own and rescue herself. A great read at any age, this fairy tale follows a strong-willed girl, her journey through a dangerous forest filled with ogres and giants, hideous stepsisters and a handsome prince who could just turn out to be Ella’s happily ever after.
Rumplestiltskin and Belle have a way to go before they match the tenderness and devotion in Beauty: A Retelling of the Story of Beauty and the Beast by Robin McKinley. This has some differences from the Disney version—the heroine’s name is Honour, not Belle, and she’s the youngest, and plainest, of three sisters. When the one of the sisters must willingly go to the Beast’s castle in order to save their father’s life, it’s Honour who volunteers. While there’s no unexpected twist to this tale, the depth of feeling and honest emotion makes it a joy to read. It was also one of the first novels that retold a classic fairy tale.
How could we not mention Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West by Gregory Maguire in this list? This book truly started it all! An intriguing and breathtaking tale that tells the side of the Wicked Witch, a girl who just might not have been as wicked as everyone made her out to be. Talk about getting a bad rap! If you love this bestseller, don’t stop there. Maguire has some other great reads that are sure to be right up your (Diagon) Alley—wrong crowd? Oops! Be sure and sink your teeth into Macguire’s other twisted tales, including Son of a Witch, A Lion Among Men, Mirror Mirror, Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister and more.
These three are classics, but retold fairy tales are hot right now and there are tons to choose from. What are some of your favorites?
Next week: The Bates Motel. Tell mother you’ll be busy.