Midnight Chat: Retelling Reluctance

chatOkay, ready for a confession? I have never read a fairy tale retelling. 


Ah, but I kid you not. There are several questions that come into play here, namely “why?” and perhaps “how?”. To be honest, I am not even entirely sure how it came about. One day, I was commenting on a post about some book that was a retelling of some story or another. My comment was something along the lines of “I am not really into retellings, I tend to be a bit wary of them”, which turned into my standard response whenever someone was reviewing or discussing some fairy tale-inspired book. But, I haven’t even given them a chance, so how is this a fair assessment? It isn’t. And I should really remedy this situation.

With my second confession, I will answer what I assume is the “Why?”: I didn’t really like fairy tales growing up. Or really, any fantasy. I was an oddly realistic child, and favored more realistic fiction to anything with fantasy elements. giphy

Again, no idea why. But eventually, I did come around to fantasy, though my mantra had been the same “I don’t get along with high fantasy” until I read The Grisha series. I think I feel that if I didn’t like a Disney version of some fairy tale, why would I want to try it again? But I think that is selling the book short, so I am vowing to fix this problem. By the end of the year, I need to read a retelling! Plus there are a lot of upcoming books and new releases that sound really good and  have fairy tale elements in them.  But, since I want to get on board with them and not be turned off for life, I need to know: Which should I start with? 

So let’s discuss! Do you read and enjoy retellings? Do you have a favorite? Or are you strange like me and refuse to read them?


Posted October 24, 2014 by Shannon @ It Starts at Midnight in Discussion / 21 Comments


21 responses to “Midnight Chat: Retelling Reluctance

  1. I read “Entwined”, which is a retelling of The Twelve Dancing Princesses, which I think was why I liked it… it’s a somewhat obscure fairy tale… no “Ariel” or “Cinderella” to get muddled in.

  2. Hmmm this is a good topic! I have read retellings, but I haven’t liked most of them. I’ll tell you about a few I liked and why:

    This Dark Endeavor by Kenneth Oppel: This is sort of a prequel to Frankenstein by Mary Shelley, but I’m counting it as a retelling. I love Frankenstein so appreciated how she stuck to the gothic nature of the original novel.

    Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge: I feel like you either love this one or you hate it. It was a VERY different kind of book and got a bit flowery and needlessly complex, but I felt that even though it was a retelling of Beauty and the Beast, it was also very original as well.

    Stolen Songbird by Danielle L. Jensen: This is also a Beauty and the Beast retelling, and I advise you read this quick like! It’s original enough not to draw attention to the generic Beauty and the Beast plot, and the characters and story is enough to just make you fall head over heels… not to mention the most fantastic world building!

    I will just add the Percy Jackson series in there for good measure, though I think it’s on a different playing field than the rest of these retellings.

    A few of the ones I didn’t like include Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige (Wizard of Oz), Princess of Thorns by Stacey Jay (Sleeping Beauty), Solsbury Hill by Susan E. Wyler (Wuthering Heights), and Queen of Hearts by Colleen Oakes (Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland). That’s all I can really think of.

    I think you have to just take what you can get when it comes to retellings. I find that if I don’t like them from the get-go I can easily DNF them really quick, which I don’t know if that’s because of the book or the lack of patience I have with retellings. Either way, I think they are always worth a shot, and if you end up not liking them DNFing a book never hurt anyone. 🙂

    • I had NO idea that Stolen Songbird was a retelling! I have been interested in it too, so maybe that is a good place to start. I have also been pretty curious about Cruel Beauty too. I’ll have to check the others out, thanks!

      I am definitely staying away from Dorothy Must Die, I have not heard good things, so I figure not a great place to start at all. I like that you can DNF them easily, I am hoping that I will be able to too, I am making progress on that front 😉 Thanks for the suggestions!

  3. As I child, I was the same as you. I read fairy tales and had some read to me, but I preferred more realistic books overall. With the exception of Enid Blyton’s fantasy(ish) books. I loved those. Especially the ones with the faraway tree. Now, I don’t steer clear of fairy tale retellings, but I don’t go out of my way to read them too. If I like the synopsis and have heard positive things, then it’ll be added to my TBR.

    Great discussion topic, Shannon. 🙂

  4. I haven’t really read much retellings, and the only one that comes to my mind is Cinder, which I loved. I’m not exactly sure why I don’t read them because I do really enjoy fairy tales. But Amanda mentioned that Stolen Songbird by Danielle L. Jensen is a retelling. Now, I read that book, and I never considered that one a retelling, so maybe I did read some more, but just didn’t notice it was a retelling, or maybe it’s a retelling from a story I’m not familiar with, idk.

    • I was thinking of Cinder too, when I first thought about retellings. I am so scared to read Cinder, and I have NO idea why since basically everyone loves it! I really should just start and not worry so much about categories!

  5. I haven’t read too many retellings, well, not compared to all the ones out there lately, and the popular ones (haven’t read Cinder yet) For me, I’d start with Cruel Beauty, it’s supposed to be a retelling of Beauty and the Beast, though apart from the essence of it, it’s not that much of a Beauty and the Beast retelling, if that makes sense. Really good though. The Splintered series by A.G. Howard is freaking amazing, again, it’s not really a retelling of Alice in Wonderland since it’s more of a companion on from Alice and Wonderland, one of my favourite series though. Stacey Jay’s retellings are supposed to be really good, I’ve only read Juliet Immortal which I freaking loved since it’s Romeo & Juliet, and Romeo’s the bad guy, which any retelling of Romeo & Juliet where Romeo’s painted in a bad light I’ll love, really.

    • I definitely need to get Cruel Beauty (I mean, even if I end up not liking it, the cover will look so pretty on my shelves!) and I am so on the fence about Splintered! Though, I do trust your opinion, so I may have to give it a try! I LOVE Romeo and Juliet stuff, I definitely need to check Juliet Immortal out! That sounds really good. Thanks for the recommendations!

  6. Okay, so I love retellings! They are some of my favorite books and one of my goals as a writer is to come up with my own…so far I’ve gotten no where on that front. Of course, I love The Lunar Chronicles! Probably the best retellings, I love them so much that I stood in line for two hours at a convention last year to get a Cress ARC, that’s dedication! Also, they’re very light on the similarities to their fairytale counter parts, the author does an amazing job of giving you just enough similarities to recognize that it’s a retelling of sorts, but that story really stands on it’s own.

    But I also love a few stand-alones, Entwined by Heather Dixion was probably my first retelling and I adored it! It’s an easy read and it’s Twelve Dancing Princesses so it’s not really high fantasy at all. I also love Tiger Lily which is a Peter Pan retelling and it’s one of those rip your heart out and stomp on it books. Also if you like self published, Cameron Jace writes a ton of retellings(some better than others), I especially love his Alice In Wonderland retelling called Insanity.

    Okay, I’ll stop recommending books now… =) But I definitely think you should try a retelling, like most people I encourage you to start with Cinder!

    • Entwined and Cinder are definitely standing out as the winners here! I also think I might own Tiger Lily? Did I get it for free or something? I have no idea. Maybe I thought I wanted it? Seriously, not a clue. But I am definitely trying these! I like that you said that they aren’t like, actual recreations, that makes me feel quite a bit better- I can do subtle similarities, but I don’t want to read complete copies! Thanks so much for the help, I think I shall start with Cinder, just because I own iT!

  7. Bri

    Not exactly a retelling I guess because it takes place afterwards but The Collectors Society is sort of an add-on to Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass. I just finished it last night and it was really great!

  8. I am a huge fan of retellings, but then I’ve always loved fairy tales and fantasies, so I guess it’s no surprise that I love them still. I enjoyed Cruel Beauty, Cinder, Splintered, and Insanity (which have all already been mentioned). Haven’t read Entwined, but now I want to! Loved the cover for Towering by Alex Flin, but the book did not live up to it (I’ve also read a few so-so self-pubbed retellings, but it sounds like you’d be starting with a mainstream published book anyway – one self-pubbed series that I have enjoyed is the Blood Prince series by Jennifer Blackstream, but it involves werewolves, vampires, etc. and is definitely 18+ in content – not sure that’s up your alley).

    Good luck! Hope you find one you love!

  9. Hmmmmm… I get wary with retellings too, especially if it’s a fairy tale that I really like. I’ve heard mixed reviews about Cinder/The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer, which is supposedly a Cinderella retelling. I’m very relaxed about Cinderella so I may give that a go.

    I do have to recommend Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson. It’s a Peter Pan retelling and I personally found it beautiful.

    • That’s how I feel about Cinder too- I am not like, particularly attached to Cinderella, so I don’t care if it isn’t really in line with the story. In fact, I kind of hope it isn’t! I am definitely going to check out Tiger Lily though, it sounds great and I have heard wonderful things about her writing! Thanks 🙂

  10. I cannot express to you how much you need to get over this “retelling reluctance” thing you’ve got going on. Because a) I was the same way, and now I’m not, b) the uniqueness, originality, and creativity being spun into twisting my favorite stories is *almost* always fabulous, and c) FAIRYTALES! Like, I know you weren’t a fan when you were a child (which is just incomprehensible to me), but you might actually really enjoy them BECAUSE of that. You won’t feel disappointed if they don’t live up to their origins.

    Favorites? Are you sure you’re ready for this? The Lunar Chronicles (amazing series), Of Beast and Beauty (so fabulous!), Princess of Thorns (doesn’t come out until December 8th, but trust me, YOU WANT THIS BOOK), Stitching Snow. I could go on and on, especially since there are so many I want to read that I haven’t yet.

    Basically just read a fairytale retelling, Shannon. (Was that too pushy? If so, I am sorry. Sort of). 🙂

Leave a Reply