A Beast By Any Other Name…

What do you think about re-telling fairy tales?

Writing about BEAUTY AND THE WEREWOLF last week got me thinking. I love reading fairy tales re-done. (Re-done WELL, that is. Not butchered.) But am I alone in this?

Well, obviously not, given the sheer number of them out there. On the other hand, are there just so many re-told fairy tales because it’s easier to build on an existing idea than it is to create new ideas entirely from scratch?

I’m not implying anything against the skill or dedication of those who re-tell fairy tales, mind. I’ve thought about doing it myself, but I haven’t yet found a new way to do so that appealed to me. But sometimes it does seem like it would be nice to have the bones of a story (plot, character, setting) handed to you for you to flesh out. (I might well change my mind once I try it, of course.)

Okay, so I’m not the only one who likes to read new takes on old stories. But what makes them good? Is it best when they stick to the story we already know? Or when they are so far removed from the original that we have to dig for the hints? Maybe the story has nothing to do with it, and whether or not the story is enjoyable is entirely due to the skill of the author instead of the plot.

I don’t have the answer to this one. I’m not even sure what the question is anymore. But if anyone can recommend any good fairy tale re-tellings to me, I’d love it.


4 thoughts on “A Beast By Any Other Name…

  1. Tanith lee’s Red as Blood is an excellent collection of retellings.

    I thing retellings work best when they have some cultural or personal resonance for the reader

  2. It needs to be done well, obviously. I’ve read some wonderful fairy tale retellings – both m/m and not. Tam Lin by Pamela Dean comes to mind – and I think it was part of a set of fairy tale retellings. Maybe Brier Rose by Jane Yolen, too? (It’s been easily 16 years since I read those books and I’m too lazy to go look them up.)

  3. I do like to read stories based on fairy tales – it adds such a rich layer to subtext/shorthand but it does have to be done well, which is probably the real secret.

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