I don’t know if y’all know this about me, but I am a sucker for retellings. I’ve heard the phrase “genre kryptonite” and retellings (of any kind: fairy tale, mythology, classic literature, Shakespeare, etc.) are my absolutely my weakness. Well, one of them, at least. Today, for Top 10 Tuesday, which is on-time this week, I thought long and hard about what I wanted to bring to you and I realized that from the end of 2016 to 2017, there are so many cool sounding fairy tale retellings coming out, that I figured I’d bring you a list of the ten I’m most excited for that are coming to my bookshelf sometime in the next couple months or so.
1. Sarah Porter’s Vassa in the Night (September 20, 2016 by Tor Teen) – So, this is actually the book that helped me come up with the idea for this post. I had absolute no clue about anything that even sort of related to Russian folktales until one of my friends gave a crash course to a group of us before we started a table top game. Coincidentally, I found this book, which was also compared to the work of Francesca Lia Block, who is an author I really love for her work on subverting and rewriting fairy tales. I knew that I had to get my hands on this book. Vassa in the Night is inspired by the Russian story of Vasilisa (also Vassilissa) the Beautiful and is one of many stories that feature Baba Yaga, a fantastic fairy tale witch who has a house that stands on chicken legs and flies around in a giant mortal wielding a magic pestle. Of course Porter’s take on the story is contemporary, taking place in Brooklyn, but I like the modern update and cannot wait to see exactly how she takes the story and makes it her own.
2. Robin Talley’s As I Descended (September 6, 2016 by Harper Teen) – While Macbeth isn’t my absolute favorite Shakespeare play (I was a TA for two years in a ninth grade English class and the amount of times I had to read/hear the “Out, out brief candle” soliloquy could probably have driven the sanest person to madness, but I was excited when I saw Robin Talley’s retelling. Shakespeare retellings are amazing because his plays (usually) still hold up even with a change of scenery or of time period. Macbeth is very much a masculine play to me, with even the main female character saying that she wished she were a man so that then she would have power of her own. Robin Talley’s retelling is a more female-centric which features a lesbian couple, which in and of itself makes it stand out from other Shakespeare retellings I’ve read, but that’s not the only thing that intrigues me. The transferring of the story from its original setting of Scotland to this new prestigious academic setting makes the stakes different, but still in a world where the right school is almost as important as a royal title, the stakes are still incredibly high.
3. S. Jae-Jones’ Wintersong (February 7, 2017 by Thomas Dunne) – Even though it doesn’t explicitly state it within the book’s Goodreads summary, this is definitely a sort of retelling or expanding upon the movie Labyrinth. As far as retellings go, this one is definitely unique. It’s not a traditional retelling and the novelty of that makes it so much more interesting to me, because I want to see exactly what the author plans to do with the work that is being played with and retold. I will admit that it has been pretty much an eternity since I’ve seen the actual movie Labyrinth and I can’t help but hope that the “You remind me of the babe” thing somehow works its way in here, but I will say that there isn’t really anyone I could imagine in this role that isn’t David Bowie, so I will definitely be reading this with that in mind. I may or may not rate this book based on how David Bowie-esque The Goblin King is.
4. Danielle Paige’s Stealing Snow (September 20, 2016 by Bloomsbury USA Childrens) – To be honest with you, I would read anything that Danielle Paige writes ever since I finished Dorothy Must Die, which itself was a retelling of L. Frank Baum’s The Wizard of Oz (both the movie and the book, I think. Definitely more of the movie, though). Stealing Snow is another retelling, but this time, it’s a retelling of Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Snow Queen”. I keep reading the comments on Goodreads and there’s a lot of confusion as to why there is a character named Kai, because I guess the prince in Cinder was named Kai. The character in the original story is named Kai. Anyhow, I can’t wait to see what she does with “The Snow Queen” because all I have that references that is Frozen and I’m really ready to just kind of “let it go.” (Sorry, I had to).
5. E. K. Johnston’s Spindle (December 6, 2016 by Disney-Hyperion) – This is the kind of sequel to Johnston’s A Thousand Nights, which was, itself, a retelling of the framing story of The 1001 Nights. Spindle takes place many, many, many years later and is more of a retelling of Sleeping Beauty than it is a straight sequel to the first book. There are some elements that bind them together, such as demons who are trapped in the original story and the legacy of The Story Teller Queen who was able to trap them. I like the idea of working to connect these two together and though I am still reading A Thousand Nights, I’m sure I’ll be finished by December and I can’t wait until I’m able to enjoy Spindle.
6. A. G. Howard’s RoseBlood (January 10, 2017 by Amulet Books) – RoseBlood is another incredibly unique retelling on the list because it happens to be a retelling (or more aptly, a continuation of) The Phantom of the Opera. Howard is, perhaps, well-known for herSplintered series, which is an Alice in Wonderland retelling. I’m not the biggest fan of The Phantom of the Opera but I do like books that bring in another perspective and allow me to look at a story in a different way. Because the characters aren’t the same, I feel as though I could probably love this book and besides that the cover is absolutely flawless, just like the covers for Howard’s Splintered series. I’m still kind of on the fence about books that seem heavily rooted in romance, but I’ll try this one out because it’s a retelling and I can’t say no to one of those.
7. Lexa Hillyer’s Spindle Fire (April 11, 2017 by HarperCollins) – I love books about sisters almost as much as I love retellings. It’s probably because I have sisters that the relationship between sisters in books means so much to me. This seems to be a retelling of Sleeping Beauty, but there are two princesses instead of one and both seem to need the other. The synopsis is still sort of vague, but I was kind of sold on it already after seeing the beautiful cover. It’s just enough to make me want to know more about these sisters and this evil queen and the dream realm that is mentioned. I’ve read Sleeping Beauty a number of times in a number of forms, but this one sounds unique and like it gives the story a very much needed update. I can’t wait for this book to come out next spring. Hopefully, time can go a little faster so I can get my hands on it.
8. Marissa Meyer’s Heartless (November 8, 2016 by Feiwel and Friends) – I just have one thing to say about this book: thank the book gods for stand alone novels. I’m fine with duologies and trilogies, but sometimes it’s nice to have one book and then not worry about when the next two will come out. Sometimes it’s nice when a story has an end. Heartless is a stand alone novel about the beginnings of The Queen of Hearts in Wonderland before Alice shows up, sort of like a Wonderland Wicked. Marissa Meyer is another author on this list who has written retellings before so I’m sure this one is safe in her hands and that she’ll do an amazing job with it. I’ve heard nothing but good things and I do love an origin story every once in awhile, so I am curious to know what happens to make a girl who just wants to be a baker into a terrifying beheading obsessed tyrant and hopefully this story will give me that.
9. Hannah West’s Kingdom of Ash and Briars (August 30, 2016 by Holiday House Inc) – This one is sort of a strange as it isn’t totally a retelling as much as it is an homage, so I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t cheating, but if spin-offs count, then so can homages, I’ve decided, just now. I may or may not have chosen this one specifically because I loved the cover, but the description definitely sold the book for me. Described as a homage to “Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Jane Austen’s Emma and the Chinese legend of Hua Mulan,” I absolutely had to read something that could be described as a blend of all of the above. Strong female heroine who disguises herself as a man to protect her kingdom is, at least, a homage to Mulan and that’s just what’s in the description of the book on Goodreads. Hannah West’s Kingdom of Ash and Briars sounds like one of the most unique books in this category as it’s almost entirely an original. I can’t wait to see if this book lives up to the hype.
10. Sarah Prineas’ Rose & Thorn (September 13, 2016 by HarperTeen) – Rose & Thorn is a sequel to Prineas’ earlier book, Ash & Bramble. First off, I really like this cover as an addition to the the previous one. I love the minimalistic covers with the beautiful dresses. Rose & Thorn is a retelling of Sleeping Beauty, much like its predecessor was the retelling of Cinderella and much like it’s predecessor, it upends the traditional fairy tale trope by allowing us to see Rose, the princess, try to find her own happily ever after instead of just waiting for it to come to her. It takes place fifty years after Ash & Bramble, both are subversions of fairy tales that allow our princesses to find their own fate and make their own destiny.
What are your favorite YA retellings? Any you think I forgot?
I was going to include The Duke of Bannerman Prep by Katie Nelson, but there’s not a great deal of information on it yet, but I am looking forward to that one. Another one I’m looking forward to that I’ve already mentioned is Kim Zarins’ Sometimes We Tell the Truth, which is the upcoming YA Canterbury Tales retelling.