Many of us grew up reading fairy tales or having fairy tales read to us. These stories are not only fun adventures to spur our imaginations, but they will also teach us a lesson along the way.
Fairy tales are not just entertaining, but also educational, especially for children.
Do you wish that you could rediscover an old fairy tale for the first time, having heard all of them before? Well, look no further.
Below, we have compiled a list of 8 books that are retold and/or modernized fairy tales, written for an adult reader.
What Is A Fairy Tale?
A fairy tale is a brief narrative that falls within the folklore category. Preliterate societies’ literature is made up of stories like these, which frequently include magic, enchantments, and mythological or fantastical beings.
In most cultures, there is no clear distinction between myth and folk or fairy tale.
Children typically read fairy stories, usually with a moral lesson at the conclusion to teach them a lesson about life.
Older fairy tales typically have gloomy, depressing conclusions, e.g., the mermaid at the end of Hans Christen Anderson’s The Little Mermaid dies before she reaches her happily ever after.
However, updated, contemporary versions of these same tales will have been rewritten to have happier endings.
In the Disney version of The Little Mermaid (1989), the mermaid marries the prince and lives happily ever after.
Baba Yaga Laid An Egg (2010) By Ellen Elias-Bursac
Baba Yaga is an elderly creature who takes the form of an elderly hag, who abducts young infants and resides in a home supported on chicken legs.
She is considered one of the most prevalent and potent supernatural entities in all mythology, with the potential to take a nurturing position and assist, or harm, all who come into contact with her.
This tale is filled with enchanting mystery and includes a wagering victory, a tragic death on the golf course, a starling infestation, long-lost family members, and many more unusual events.
- This book shows a creative perspective on how women are treated and what their place in society is, especially as they become elderly.
- This book is divided into three seemingly unconnected sections that are intricately entwined with one another.
- This novel can be a little puzzling for the reader if they are not familiar with the Russian folk figure known as Baba Yaga.
The Bear And The Nightingale (2017) By Katherine Arden
Vasilisa and her siblings have a tradition of meeting by the fireplace during the long winter nights to hear the myths and stories their nurse tells.
When their father returns home with a new bride, the brand-new stepmother prevents her household from respecting their domestic customs.
Bad luck starts to plague the community, but Vasya’s stepmother only gets stricter as she works to change the community to her satisfaction.
Vasya realizes she must use perilous abilities that she had previously kept hidden in order to defend her family from a catastrophe that has materialized from her nurse’s most terrifying legends.
- Readers will be captivated by this opulent story from the very first page.
- Vasya is a compelling heroine who readers can identify with since she merely wants to be free from the restrictions placed on her and take control of her own destiny.
- Some readers have complained that the novel, which isn’t sure if it wants to be a fairy tale or historical fiction, becomes a little muddled towards the end.
Gingerbread (2019) By Helen Oyeyemi
Although Perdita and Harriet appear to be a typical mother-daughter team, there are indications that they may not be who they claim to be.
Perdita spends her early life producing unique gingerbread with her mother in their apartment.
In Druhástrana, the remote country where Harriet spent her early years, this baked treat is especially well-liked.
As the years go by, Perdita discovers more about her mother, the history of her family, and the reality of Druhástrana, the town where gingerbread is so highly prized.
- The ending of this book deviates significantly from what the reader anticipated when they began, thanks to Oyeyemi’s completely unexpected twists on a well-known tale.
- This book’s writing is flawlessly composed, vivid, and full of meaningful detail.
- This story is quite confusing, and some readers find that the narrative itself didn’t make much sense.
The Girls At The Kingfisher Club (2014) By Genevieve Valentine
Each night, Jo Hamilton signals for her 11 sisters to leave the constraints of their father’s townhouse, so they can wait for the cabs that will transport them to the Kingfisher Club.
The sisters work as a team under Jo’s leadership to avoid their tyrannical father until the moment he intends to wed them all off. Until then, they spend their nights at the Kingfisher.
One night, while out dancing, they become separated during a raid, and Jo is forced to confront somebody from her past.
Consequently, she must work out how to manage the expectations she should make of herself with those of her father, and her eleven sisters.
- Many women will identify with this tale of kinship, hunger for independence, and romance.
- This is a well-known narrative that readers will enjoy revisiting through a pair of fresh eyes (It is a 1920s setting for a retelling of the 12 Dancing Princesses).
- Given how short the novel is, too much time is spent on developing each sister. The majority of the characters’ character development suffers as a result.
Gods Of Jade And Shadow (2019) By Silvia Moreno-Garcia
Casiopea daydreams of a life outside of her arid, little village in southern Mexico. Up until the day she discovers a mysterious wooden box in her grandfather’s bedroom, this fresh start appeared as far away as the heavens.
She unintentionally releases the Mayan deity of death’s spirit when she opens the box, and he asks for her assistance in reclaiming his reign.
Casiopea embarks on an expedition with the oddly fascinating god, armed only with her wits.
The journey leads her from the woods of Yucatán to the glittering spotlights of Mexico City, all the way down into the depths of the Mayan abyss.
- This book is a fantastical fairy tale with Mayan mythology as its source.
- Although it is a slow read, the reader will be intrigued by the intriguing plot.
- The narrative is mostly written in middle-grade prose, which some readers may find a touch too childish.
House Of Names (2017) By Colm Toibin
At the start of the narrative, Clytemnestra rules Mycenae with the help of her new lover, and the two of them plot Agamemnon’s brutal murder on the day of his nine-year return from war.
Clytemnestra continues by outlining the tragic narrative that brought about these heinous deeds. Her husband tricked her eldest daughter into believing she would get married, only to have her sacrificed.
With a convict who had the ability to kill, she enticed and worked together. Additionally, her spouse returned with a mistress of his own.
Also, the reader learns how Clytemnestra ultimately got revenge on Agamemnon for his breathtaking betrayal.
- Insights into how injustice develops animosity and how bitterness almost invariably generates violence, are both beautifully captured by Tóibin.
- The book’s strong characterization, and modernized adaptation of mythology, will keep the reader captivated until they have finished reading.
- Some readers complain that the story ends quite abruptly, leaving them wishing that the narrative had been left unresolved.
The Winter Sister (2019) By Megan Collins
Persephone, Sylvie’s sister, went missing sixteen years prior to this novel’s opening. Her body was eventually discovered, but her murder remained unsolved for almost two decades.
Many years down the line, Sylvie travels back to her childhood home to assist her cancer-stricken mother.
Sylvie is still confused about what truly occurred, as she carries her own guilt from that night; remorse that keeps her stuck while the world surrounding her moves forward.
Sylvie starts to learn about the mysteries that surround their home and the actual events that took place the night Persephone passed away, as she negotiates her difficult relationship with her mother.
- This enigmatic book investigates the intricate ties that bind families together, as well as the conflicts that tear them apart.
- A somber, suspenseful, and totally engrossing retelling of the Greek mythological tale of Persephone.
- According to some readers, this novel felt incomplete and had an anticlimactic ending.
Two Years, Eight Months And Twenty-Eight Nights (2015) By Salman Rushdie
Once a hurricane hits New York City in the near future, a number of odd events start to take place. Several people discover that they have newly acquired powers and/or abilities after waking up.
Unknown to them, every one of these humans is a descendant of the boisterous, predatory beings known as the jinn, who dwell in a realm veiled from theirs.
A jinn princess named Dunia once became enamored with a human man centuries ago. As a result, they had countless offspring who dispersed over the human globe over numerous generations.
These descendants’ lives, along with the rest of the world they live in, were forever altered by the storm.
- A clever, passionate argument for rationality that is presented as a jinn story.
- The reader will be on the edge of their seat as they read this book since it is full of fascinating beings and terrifying beasts.
- Some readers claim that there are too many characters to keep straight, which can occasionally be confusing.
Whether you are looking for a retelling of a Greek myth or a deeper insight into mythical creatures that only exist in folklore, there is something here for all grown-up readers looking for a brand new fairy tale to enjoy.
We hope you found this list helpful, and that you found a book or two to read in your spare time.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Is The World’s Oldest Fairy Tale?
Out of all the fairy tales in the world, it is believed that two of the oldest tales ever told are Rumplestilskin and Beauty and the Beast. Both fairy tales are believed to be over 4,000 years old.
What Is The Darkest Fairy Tale Of All Time?
The majority of original fairy tales have gruesome, dark narratives, so it is difficult to decide which is the darkest of them all.
Hansel and Gretel, the story of two young children who experience abuse and cannibalism along their journeys, is a good contender.
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