>There is something I really enjoy about new twists on old ideas. Whether it be songs or stories, something inside me just loves to see something so classic rearranged and made either darker, lighter or just plain different somehow! I know what your thinking…isn’t that stealing someone else’s creativity? I say NO. Nothing is all together original anymore. Everyone has been influenced in various ways by other artists and that influence sneaks into their work periodically. It is my opinion that it isn’t so much about the originality as much as it is about the delivery of the concept…and that is where these new versions of classic tales come into play.
Mirror Mirror by Gregory Maguire is a trippy take on Snow White with cameo appearances by Cesare and Lucretia Borgia and some not so adorable dwarfs. Maguire’s books are like trying to make sense of another person’s dream. Things seem familiar enough but then all of a sudden *BAM* some crazy new thing is introduced. Set in Renaissance Italy, this is a curious and interesting, dark view on such a classic tale.
The same can be said for another Maguire book, Confessions Of An Ugly Stepsister.
This one is a different perspective on one of the most famous of all Fairy Tales…you guessed it…Cinderella. This book is a novel of beauty and betrayal, illusion and understanding, reminding us that deception can be unearthed–and love unveiled–in the most unexpected of places. Set in 17th century Holland, Confessions of an Ugly Step Sister is more sympathetic to the sisters and step mother and takes readers on a journey through a different time and alternate universe.
Another hauntingly dark re-telling is The Child Thief by Brom. This book is so dark it is disturbing. Brom takes the beloved classic Peter Pan and twists it into horrifying adventures in this macabre fairy tale. Born of faerie blood, Peter hunts abandoned children, runaways and the hopeless, recruiting for his Devils in Avalon and promising them a place where you never have to grow up. He conveniently fails to mention that Avalon’s monsters are very real, and the Devils must practice their war games or risk being tortured to death, eaten or worse. The Child Thief is not a happy re-telling and touches upon issues like gang violence, child abuse, rape and more…definitely not a child’s bedtime story.
Continuing with the dark interpretations and bastardized Fairy Tales is Shiloh Walker’s Book of Grimm. These
tales are all very, VERY different tales than the ones we grew up with. The first book in her series is Candy Houses, and it is the “true” tale of Hansel and Gretel. But, Gretel was a molested girl whose step brother, Hans (aka Hansel) was one of her abusers and the witch that supposedly lured the children to her candy home was not the evil woman the Brothers Grimm made her out to be…no, everything in Walker’s Grimm Circle is not what we expect.
All of these stories are darker than the original, they are definitely for a mature reader and NOT suitable for children. Perhaps my selections are darker because I gravitate toward the re-tellings that push that envelope and go places that are utterly unexpected and most of the time they happen to be dark? Like I mentioned before, I love a fresh look at an old idea, but I want to be surprised when I turn the page. There is little for me to enjoy if I already know the ending…you know, the “and they lived happily ever after” type of ending…kind of a crock in my book. As an adult that grew up expecting fairy tale endings, I suppose I derive some sick satisfaction in these fairy tale princesses having a dose of reality. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy lighter, happier books as well, but if we are talking about Fairy Tales, I’ll take my re-makes just as bastardized as I can get them. If I want something closer to the classic I might as well enjoy the original..but, that’s just me. What are your favorite re-imagined tales?