1) ‘The Snow Child’ by Eowyn Ivey
This magical novel takes a Russian fairy tale and sets it in 1920’s Alaska. I found it a bit slow and ‘wagons and homesteads’ to begin with but was drawn in and, like everyone else, fell in love with Faina. Wonderfully snowy, this is my book club‘s January read and I am expecting it to be very popular. It also has a very beautiful trailer that you can see here.
2) ‘The Penelopiad’ by Margaret Atwood
My favourite from the Canongate myth series from one of my favourite authors, this one tackles Penelope’s experiences during the Odyssey and deftly handles double standards between the sexes. Atwood also wrote ‘The Robber Bride’, the title of which references the Grimm fairy tale ‘The Robber Bridegroom’. Other titles in the myths series included ‘Weight’ by Jeanette Winterson, ‘Girl Meets Boy’ by Ali Smith and ‘The End of the Gods’ by AS Byatt.
3) ‘Gods Behaving Badly’ by Marie Phillips
I loved this very hilarious book so am super excited to find that it’s being made into a film starring Christopher Walken and Sharon Stone! Here’s an interview with Sharon on set! Bookmarks Magazine say: “Reviewers almost unanimously praise Phillips’s daring, high-concept premise and the wit and cleverness with which she recycles mythic tales and gives them a postmodern twist.”
4) ‘Tender Morsels’ by Margo Lanagan
A dark, dark retelling of the Snow White, Rose Red fairy tale, be warned, this is not a novel for the faint of heart, with rape, bestiality and sodomy as themes and no Disney style ending, it’s a book that lives with the reader for a long time after. Publishers Weekly said: “Writing in thick, clotted prose that holds the reader to a slow pace, Lanagan explores the savage and the gentlest sides of human nature, and how they coexist.”
5) ‘Oh My Gods’ by Phillip Freeman
Oh My Gods is a contemporary retelling of some of the most popular myths by Philip Freeman, a noted classicist. These tales of errant gods, fantastic creatures, and human heroes are brought to life in fresh and modern versions. Powerful Zeus; his perpetually aggrieved wife, Hera; talented Apollo; beautiful Aphrodite; fierce Athena; the dauntless heroes Theseus and Hercules; and the doomed lovers Orpheus and Eurydice still inspire awe, give us courage, and break our hearts.
6) ‘New World Fairy Tales’ – Cassandra Parkin
I first stumbled across Cassandra when I discovered her acerbic and incredibly hilarious explanation of everything that is wrong with Fifty Shades of Grey. I had an inkling then that I was going to enjoy this, her first published book of prize winning short stories from Salt Publishing. And I did, enormously. These are very, very modern retellings of various fairy tales – beautiful, sexy and compelling.
7) ‘Thirty Seconds Before Midnight’ by me
This is a contemporary retelling of the classic Greek myth Orpheus and Eurydice set in a menagerie in a rundown country estate in Sussex which turns upside down with the arrival of a new family of rock stars set on change. Readers love Herbert – the main narrator of the book who is a giant land tortoise. You can be friends with Herbert on Facebook here. You may also find him blogging on this site quite regularly.
8) ‘Grimm Tales – For Young and Old’ – Phillip Pullman
Well the title says it all really! I bought these for my six year old niece for Christmas. Unfortunately I’ve been in the French alps (poor me!) over the festive break so I am yet to have a read of them but am looking forward to it very much. I love Pullman’s writing, in particular the Northern Lights trilogy – me and my cat were likened to Lyra and her daemon by a friend once which made me smile a lot. He is also very good friends with Neil Gaiman from what I understand who deserves a mention here for his masterful ‘Stardust’.
9) ‘The Bloody Chamber and Other Stories’ by Angela Carter
Ian McEwan (and I love his writing) described this as: “Magnificent set pieces of fastidious sensuality”. These are fairy tales retold and interwoven by a master of seductive, luminous storytelling – The Times said: “She can glide from ancient to modern, from darkness to luminosity, from depravity to comedy without any hint of strain and without losing the elusive power of the original tales.”
10) ‘Beauty’ by Robin McKinley
“The best-known and best-loved of Robin McKinley’s books is also one of the best of the fairy-tale retellings — “Beauty,” a more enlightened, fully-drawn version of “Beauty and the Beast.” There’s a depth and a richness to the story and characterizations, as well as a beauty of atmosphere and writing.” E A Solinas – Amazon Hall of Fame reviewer
Do you know of any more to add to the list?
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