Today’s Top Ten Tuesday, brought to you by The Broke & the Bookish, is all about fairy tale retellings. I enjoy retellings because I like seeing how the story could play out from another point of view. I read more retellings when I was younger, but I find that there aren’t as many I’d be interested in as an “adult.” (I put adult in quotations because I’m only 23). Instead of writing about ten books I have or want to read, I decided to write about ten stories I’d like to see retold.
10. The Brave Tin Solider
I always liked this story. I used to watch Happily Ever After: Fairy Tales for Every Child when I was a child, and I remember they did a gender-swap tin soldier story. I loved seeing all these women soldiers! I feel like if somebody were to retell this story, they could easily do so from the point of view of a war veteran or something similar. Maybe a sci/fi version where he’s sucked into space or something. I think that would be kind of interesting to see.
9. The Little Match Girl
Oh my heart. When I was very young, my grandmother bought me one of those large fairy tale books with the pages lined in gold. One of the first stories I read alone was The Little Match Girl. I was so sure the old woman who came to her was her fairy godmother, sent to take her away to the life she deserves. Then I find out she’s just dead and my heart broke. I was, like, eight years old when I read this! Do you know how emotionally traumatizing this was to read!? I think a retelling would be good because maybe she could get the ending she deserves.
8. The Nightingale
Imagine if the nightingale was a person instead of a bird. Her voice is meant to be the loveliest, but she’s so plain looking that nobody knows it’s her singing. I don’t know exactly, but this is another fairy tale I think would be great as a retelling. By keeping the nightingale an actual bird, you could make her some creature of myth that is sought after for her magic or something similar.
7. Volsunga Saga
I love mythology in general, but Norse mythology in particular. This story focuses on Byrnhildr, a Valkyrie who betrayed Odin by fighting for a younger king rather than an old one. For her betrayal, Odin condemned her to life as a mortal woman and locked her in a remote castle behind a wall of shields on top of mount Hinderfjall, where she sleeps in a ring of flames until any man rescues and marries her. Now, a retelling could keep the original line where a hero, Sigurðr, comes to save her, but I think I’d like it much more if she was able to free herself.
6. The Little Mermaid
There is just something inherently odd about a 16-year-old who ends up marrying a guy that she’s never spoken to. This story has so much potential, but falls flat for me. Now imagine if the “prince” knows sign language, finds a mute girl on the beach and begins teaching her how to sign. I don’t know if the “three day,” rule would work for that, but I think it’d be an interesting take on a classic story.
I’m not well-known in non-European fairy tales, but I think more need to be retold. I searched for some international fairy tales and found this one. It’s about a woman, Adiaha, who is a “spider daughter,” and, as such, was born with two skins: one ugly skins that she must wear during the day and a beautiful skin she can only wear at night. It’s kind of long and a little confusing, but I do like it.
This one is from Hawaii. It’s about the King of the Sharks, a deity, who takes the form of a human and marries a woman. If I gave away any more, I’d give away the whole story. It would make a great story with lots of room for magic and extra lore. Plus, it would have a beautiful island setting.
3. The Ugly Duckling
Instead of ducks, imagine different races. Not human races (though that could work too) but what if a human baby and a faun baby were switched at birth? Each family would be wondering why their child is so ugly or why they don’t look like other people of that race. A retelling could definitely be told using races of humans, though a person much more well versed in racism would do it better justice than I.
2. The White Dove
A French fairy tale, this would be a great retelling of spousal abuse. A woman marries a man because he is rich. He gives her a ring of keys but forbids her from using one particular key. She does, of course, and finds the bodies of eight women. More things happen and then her brothers come and kill the husband. The ending might have to change, unless you wanted to keep it morbid. It could work.
1. Wildwood Dancing – Juliet Marillier
High in the Transylvanian woods, at the castle Piscul Draculi, live five daughters and their doting father. It’s an idyllic life for Jena, the second eldest, who spends her time exploring the mysterious forest with her constant companion, a most unusual frog. But best by far is the castle’s hidden portal, known only to the sisters. Every Full Moon, they alone can pass through it into the enchanted world of the Other Kingdom. There they dance through the night with the fey creatures of this magical realm.
But their peace is shattered when Father falls ill and must go to the southern parts to recover, for that is when cousin Cezar arrives. Though he’s there to help the girls survive the brutal winter, Jena suspects he has darker motives in store. Meanwhile, Jena’s sister has fallen in love with a dangerous creature of the Other Kingdom–an impossible union it’s up to Jena to stop.
When Cezar’s grip of power begins to tighten, at stake is everything Jena loves: her home, her family, and the Other Kingdom she has come to cherish. To save her world, Jena will be tested in ways she can’t imagine–tests of trust, strength, and true love.
I added this because it’s one of the best retellings I’ve ever read. It isn’t just one retelling either; there are at least three different stories being used to create this unique one. I probably finished this book in two days because I loved it so much. Marillier completely transported me to this world, filled with princesses and demons and a slew of other magical creatures. I know there’s a second, but I have yet to read it.
Are there any fairy tales you’d like to see retold? Did any of yours make my list? Let me know in the comments!