Bonnie Jo Stufflebeam’s fiction and poetry has appeared in magazines such as Clarkesworld, Strange Horizons, Daily Science Fiction, and Goblin Fruit. She reviews short fiction bi-weekly on Mondays through her blog, Short Story Review, and holds an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Southern Maine’s Stonecoast program. Visit her website at bonniejostufflebeam.com.
by Bonnie Jo Stufflebeam
Ever since I was a kid, I have always loved fairy tales. The fairy tales that most resonated with me back then were always the grittier ones: Anderson’s Little Mermaid, the original Brothers Grimm. I liked the tragic endings and the grotesque descriptions. But when I read them now, as an adult, I find the stories lacking in depth, in vividness, in complex characterization and psychological motivation. And while I still adore fairy tales, I adore even more the recent (as well as not-so-recent) fairy tale retellings I have stumbled across.
Here is a list of ten of my favorites. These retellings stand out for many different reasons; they shatter or play with the gender issues present in so many fairy tales or add layers to otherwise simple myths or even create a whole new tale from the well-worn tropes. They are all worth checking out and exploring for yourself.
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Tales are not lies, nor are they truths, but something in between. They can be as true or as false as the listener chooses to make them, or the teller wants him to believe.- Juliet Marillier, Son of the Shadows
by Faith Mudge
I don’t know if anyone else noticed, but I’m pretty sure 2012 was the Year of the Fairy Tale. There wasn’t an official announcement or anything, but the nod was clearly given in secret circles and the retellings spread outwards like ripples on the waters of speculative fiction. Novels such as Kate Forsyth’s Bitter Greens, Sophie Masson’s Moonlight and Ashes and Marissa Meyer’s Cinder were released, there were big movie adaptations Mirror Mirror and Snow White and the Huntsman, there was even a TV series. Hell, there were two TV series! I’m a fiend for fairy tales; I was in paradise. And I was seriously impressed by the ingenuity of all these storytellers for finding something new to say about stories that have been retold over so many years.
But there was also a bitter aftertaste that’s been bothering me for some time. It was so subtle, and so pervasive, that it is difficult to pin down when exactly I first noticed it – in the reviews? The promotional interviews? The posts I read afterwards? What I noticed was this: that when people spoke about a fairy tale adaptation, the assumption was that it would be better than the original. Specifically, that the women would be better.
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