Rachel Neumeier

Fantasy and Young Adult Fantasy Author

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What fairy tale should you read next?

Over at Book Riot, not normally a place I look for book recommendations, a moderately appealing list from Margaret Kingsbury: What should be your next fairy tale read?

This is actually an internet quiz! I enjoy silly internet quizzes, so sure, let’s just see what title gets tossed up for me:

Ah, looks like The Fox’s Tower by Yoon Ha Lee. Well, I don’t know. Foxes, check, fairy tales check, but this is a short story collection and I don’t generally l get very excited about short stories, except those connected to a universe I’m already into. I mean, I liked Patricia Briggs’ story collection that are all in the Mercy Thompson universe.

On the other hand, fairy tales might actually appeal to me in in shorter formats. I liked Robin McKinley’s short fairy tales. I wonder just how short Lee’s stories are … oh, they’re flash fiction. Well, probably not, then. Let’s try this quiz again. This time I’m going to aim to get The Girls at the Kingfisher Club. 

Yep, got it.

Okay, normally I’m all about shortening up a list — not fifty items, but ten. Not one hundred — for God’s sake, that’s way too many — but twenty. But for a quiz that’s meant to kick up a result that will appeal to you, I do think there aren’t enough choices here.  I think if you put in “historical fiction,” you’ll get The Girls at the Kingfisher Club, which is fine, but it would be significantly more fine if there were other options in “historical fairy tales” so that the rest of the quiz questions could have some influence on sifting through the crowd and selecting a book that would appeal to you.

Also, a quiz where you can check off multiple categories — SF, fantasy, historical, but not graphic novels or horror (for example). That would work better, probably.

Here are some other fairy tales that could be included to make this quiz work better:

Fairy tales that are also historicals:

The Girls at the Kingfisher Club by G Valentine

The Wild Swans by P Kerr

Strands of Bronze and Gold by J Nickerson

Fairy tales that are contemporaries:

Roses and Rot by K Howard

Fairy tales that are nearly straight retellings:

Beauty by R McKinley

A Curse as Dark as Gold by E Bunce

Daughter of the Forest by J Marillier

Fairy tales that are less straight retellings:

The Princess Curse by M Haskell

Castle Behind Thorns by M Haskell

Fire and Hemlock by DWJ

Fairy tales that are SF

Jenna Starborn by S Shinn — granted this is not a fairy tale retelling; it’s a Jane Eyre retelling. But it’s a retelling and I’m including it because I dislike all the SF fairy tale retellings I’ve read so far.

Of Beast and Beauty by S Jay — which I haven’t read, but I wanted a second choice under “SF fairy tales.”

Fairy Tale retellings that actually deconstruct the whole concept: 

Ash and Bramble by Sarah Prineas

“Into the Woods,” which is of course a play, but I wanted another entry under this category as well and couldn’t think of another book.

Fairy tales that are original, not retellings:

Uprooted by N Novik

The Changeling Sea by P McKillip

The City in the Lake by R Neumeier

Of course there are zillions more. Especially relatively straight retellings that stick pretty much to the actual fairy tale — many, many of those.

I couldn’t think of another fairy tale with a contemporary setting, but there must be some.

Likewise for SF settings. I know, I know, Meyer’s Lunar Chronicles, but I disliked those. I couldn’t finish the third book and can’t recommend the series.

I had trouble thinking of others that deconstructed fairy tales to the extent that Prineas’ novels do. Not sure there are any. 


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8 Comments What fairy tale should you read next?

  1. Sandstone

    I have a hard time with the short story length sometimes too, but The Fox’s Tower is actually a collection of flash fiction/vignettes, less retellings and more bits of invented folklore and fable! There’s some lovely, striking imagery and a good bit of whimsy- the nighttime birth of new carousel horses, a planet inhabited by robots who devise a new holiday celebrating dragons who they believe are imaginary and attract a real one, all number of trickster foxes as both main characters and side ones. It’s very different from his dark science fantasy space opera trilogy, but the same creativity is definitely there, I really enjoyed it and would highly recommend it.

  2. Irina

    I got The Fox’s Tower too, though I checked “novels” on the length question. I’ve actually got it and it’s good! But definitely not a novel. From the rest of the list I own Beauty, Fire and Hemlock and Uprooted: all novels, and I don’t see why I didn’t get any of those!

  3. Mary Catelli

    It gave me Baba Yaga’s Assistant.

    Mighty Jack and Mighty Jack and the Goblin King by Ben Hatke is contemporary in setting. Also SF and fantasy. (And improves by being read after his Zita the Spacegirl series.)

    Of Giants and Ice by Shelby Bach begins a contemporary with many fairy tales.

    But the one I would really recommend would be The Princess Seeks Her Fortune by Mary Catelli. 0:) Set in a fairy-tale land with many fairy tales.

  4. mona

    Have you picked up Novik’s Spinning Silver yet? Very enjoyable, and falls under historical.

    For SFF retellings, Stitching Snow or Spinning Starlight by RC Lewis. I don’t remember how realistic the SF is though; possibly not very.

  5. SarahZ

    For SF, what about Cinder? I enjoyed that series, and it’s got fairy tale inspirations for each book (Cinderella, Red Riding Hood/Beaty & the Beast, Rapunzel, and the Snow Queen)

    For contemporary settings, I was thinking Tithe by Holly Black

    Briar Rose by Jane Yolen and Tam Lin by Pamela Dean are contemporary-ish

    For deconstructions, maybe Six Gun Snow White?

    Graphic novels: Fables series

  6. Meera

    I really enjoy T Kingfishers fairytale retellings – funny, sensible and filled with great supporting casts and relationships; and really dig into the creepiness of the source material. The Seventh Bride is my favorite, as a retelling of Bluebeard; Bryany and Roses for Beauty and the Beast; and The Raven and the Reindeer for an awesome retelling of The Snow Queen; where Gerda and the Robber Girl fall for each other.

  7. Rachel

    Well, you all seem to be upvoting The Fox’s Tower, so I guess I will give it a try. An additional plus is that will make me feel a little less like I’m hopelessly behind as I continue to put off trying Ninefox Gambit.

    Mary, I like the idea of a protagonist who knows she’s living in a fairy tale!. I’ve picked up The Princess Seeks Her Fortune, but honestly I have no idea when I’ll get to anything at all on my TBR pile, if ever, given my current zero rate of reading new-to-me-books.

    I haven’t tried Spinning Silver yet, but one day for sure. I haven’t tried Six Gun Snow White either, though I think it’s on my TBR pile. I was trying to remember Dean’s Tam Lin; it was on the tip of my tongue, though at this point it might not quite count as contemporary. At least not for younger readers.

    I must confess I really, really disliked Cinder and that whole series.

    Meera, I agree about T Kingfisher, whether she writes under that name or under Ursula Vernon. I have several more of hers on my TBR pile and look forward to them. I’ve liked Nine Goblins the best so far, which I think would count as an original fairy tale.

    Pete, yes, but Goodreads doesn’t sort out the books on that list by genre or subgenre, not to mention I don’t always agree with how they categorize anything.

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