Alternative Fairy Tales

One reason why I love fairy tales so much is because I love the alternative ways that different authors choose to tell the familiar stories. Putting twists on famous fairy tales opens up whole new interpretations for readers and viewers, and can really change the way certain characters are portrayed. The AADL has a whole host of alternative fairy tale stories of all types. One of my favorite collections is a teen series, contributed to by various authors, that “retells” many different fairy tales. There are 15 total retellings in the series, including Midnight Pearls: A Retelling of The Little Mermaid, Before Midnight: A Retelling of Cinderella, The Crimson Thread: A Retelling of Rumpelstiltskin and Beauty Sleep: A Retelling of Sleeping Beauty along with retellings of Jack and the Beanstalk, The Magic Flute, and others.

In the adult book Boy, Snow, Bird, Helen Oyeyemi has reimagined the story of Snow White and the Deven Dwarfs as set in the United States in the 1950s and 60s. Maintaining the focus of the original fairy tale’s obsession with beauty, Oyeyemi turns her retelling into a story of race, vanity, and family, while also painting an enchanting picture of life in Massachusetts during the mid-twentieth century. Readers will find that Boy, Snow, Bird is a thought-provoking novel, described as “gloriously unsettling” by the New York Times Book Review.

For those who are eager to read a number of alternative fairy tales, we even have some collections of retold favorites. Try Swan Sister: Fairy Tales Retold, or The Rose and the Beast: Fairy Tales Retold, both compilations of alternative fairy tales from many cultures written by famous authors.

Also in our collection are The Stepsister’s Tale, Snow White and Rose Red, and the movie Ever After: A Cinderella Story.


Oldies but goodies in the fairy tale retelling field are some of Robin McKinley's earlier works- "Beauty" and "Rose Daughter," both retellings of Beauty and the Beast, and "Spindle's End," a retelling of Sleeping Beauty. "Boy, Bird, Snow" was phenomenal.

Well, here's a whole bunch more for my reading list. Must give credit to Angela Carter, for really starting the adult fairy tale resurgence with her book The Bloody Chamber. All the stories originally published in there should also be in the collection of her short fiction Burning Your Boats.

Fairy tales give real insight into the psychology of people throughout different places and times in history. As such they are an invaluable resource in understanding the ways in which people once looked at the world. They also make for very interesting reading.

Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling have a great series of anthologies of fairy tales for adults. They include:
- Snow White, Blood Red
- Ruby Slippers, Golden Tears
- Silver Birch, Blood Moon

and a few others. They are mostly short stories with a few poetry entries. Neil Gaiman, Tanith Lee, Gene Wolfe, and other high-profile authors have entries along with some other authors whose work is less well-known but the stories are usually quite great.

Agreed. Robin McKinley is great. Her book "The Door In The Hedge" has a couple of straight-up retellings and a couple of more original tales. "Beauty" is a classic. It really should get credit as a major positive influence on Disney's movie of Beauty And The Beast.

"Deerskin" by her is very powerful, but definitely for adult readers. It's a brutal (but logically so) version of the tales which are usually called "Donkeyskin."

I haven't read Boy, Bird, Snow - will get right on it.

Once Upon a Time the TV series also has some interesting takes on classic fairytales. Season 4 is starting back up in September. I think AADL has season 1 and 2. And then Netflix should have S3 soon!

Because I love fairy tale retellings and keep thinking of retellings that I've read and loved, here I am commenting again. Malinda Lo's Ash is a great YA retelling of Cinderella, and The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale (also YA) is a retelling of the lesser-known story of The Goose Girl by the Grimm Brothers. I must admit that I sometimes find it most interesting when authors rework lesser-known fairytales such as Robin McKinley's Deerskin, which another commenter referenced.

"A Curse Dark as Gold" is a retelling of Rumpelstiltskin, and a nice adaptation.


I love classical fairy tales,but they're getting a bit old. I think a new set of fairy tales is good for the later and more modern generations.

Also love both original fairy tales and twists and retellings. It is fascinating to see the evolutions and cultural influences.
Thanks for the list of suggestions.


Once upon a time is a great show!

i love fairytales

So many more to add to the reading list!