Hans Christian Andersen, Perrault, The Brothers Grimm. We think we know where our fairy stories come from. The stories we hear from the earliest age and carry inside us as we grow up. But even those 18th and 19th Century storytellers didn’t come up with the originals. They were part of a long and illustrious tradition of retellings. To take part in the practice of repeating a story down through the generations; preserving the essence of the original tale while tweaking the details to ensure it remains relevant and continues on to the next generation.
It’s a practice that still continues today. In fact, it’s having quite a revival at the moment, as this infographic of YA retellings will show you. Here are five of my favourite retellings…
5: Snow, Glass, Apples by Neil Gaiman
Snow, Glass, Apples is a short story from Neil Gaiman’s Smoke and Mirrors short story collection, that’s also been adapted into a play. The story turns the tale of Snow White on its head. Not for the faint hearted or sensitive reader though, this one!
4: The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey
This version of the children’s fairy story is told for adults and set in 1920s Alaska. Its wistful tone will leave you haunted long after reading.
3: The Bloody Chamber by Angela Carter
A bit of a cheat this one, as it’s actually a collection of retellings! However, it is a classic, and with good reason. If you haven’t read this, then you should. You’ll never view a Disney movie the same way again.
2: The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley
This retelling gives us a feminist take on the Arthurian myth. It does a great job of telling the story from Morgana’s point of view and of humanising a character that’s always been frustratingly flat in the vanilla Arthurian stories.
1: The Owl Service by Alan Garner
For me, this is the gateway book into the wealth of great Welsh stories that make up The Mabinogion. The Owl Service focuses specifically on the story of Blodeuwedd, setting it in 1960s Wales. It preserves the sense of magic and destiny beautifully, while still feeling very concrete and real.
What are your favourite retellings? Have I missed out a key story for you? Or do you have your own top 5? As always, post a link to your blog below in the comments if you post your own Friday Five – more inspiration for fantastic retellings to put on the to-read list can only be a good thing!