Thursday, March 29, 2012

Favorite Fiction: Modern Fairy Tales

   The term "modern fairy tales" can mean many different things.  From rewritten versions of well-known tales to new stories that mimic the fairy tale style, it's hard to narrow down this literary genre.  So I've decided to include a mix of books and authors that could be classified as "modern fairy tales."  Some are based on traditional tales and some are merely inspired by them, but they all include elements of magic or the supernatural and are reminiscent of the folklore/fairy tale genre.

The Bloody Chamber - Angela Carter

This magnificent book includes Angel Carter's rewritten versions of classic fairy tales, such as Beauty and the Beast, Little Red Riding Hood, Snow White, and (my personal favorite) Bluebeard.  But beware:  Carter's version of these well-known tales are for adults only, as they include graphic violence and mature themes.

The Snow Child - Eowyn Ivey

Those of you who follow Hooked Bookworm know how much I enjoyed this debut novel by Eowyn Ivey (read full post here).  The Snow Child is based on the Russian fairy tale, Snegurochka, or The Snow Maiden but with a very unique American twist. I cannot recommend this book enough!  It is magical, whimsical, and mysterious - much like the fairy tale it's inspired by.

The Rose and the Beast - Francesca Lia Block

I would argue that every Francesca Lia Block book could be classified as a modern fairy tale, but this book exemplifies the genre.  Much like The Bloody Chamber, The Rose and the Beast is a retelling of traditional fairy tales, such a Snow White, Thumbelina, and Cinderella.  This book is marketed as a YA publication, but I assure you, adults would be equally enchanted by Block's imagination and talent for prose.

Stardust - Neil Gaiman

If you're familiar with Gaiman's work, then you already know that he is a master of the modern fairy tale.  Stardust is an original story about Tristran Thorn, who embarks upon a journey to catch a falling star in a magical, unfamiliar land.  But this is no ordinary star.  The star turns out to be a beautiful young woman who needs Tristran's help to escape some very powerful and very dark forces.  You can read the full post here.

Nectar - Lily Prior

This strange little novel tells the story of Ramona Drottoveo, an unattractive, albino servant in Italy who has a unique attribute - she smells good.  She smells so good, in fact, that men all over Italy are hopelessly attracted to her and fall madly in love with her.  But her magical scent disappears when she gives birth to a child, and she is forced to live out her life like the rest of us, with no advantageous intoxicating scent to manipulate men into fulfilling her every whim and desire.  In my original post, I referred to Nectar as a comical, anti-fairy tale reminiscent of The Princess Bride.  It's not anything like a traditional fairy tale, but it contains unexplained elements of magic and timelessness.

In Red - Magdalena Tulli

Magdalena Tulli's little book is set in the fictional town of Stitchings, Poland during wartime.  The setting is ethereal and characters remain undeveloped, abstract, and fleeting, but for this novel, the setting is more of a character than anyone we encounter.  It might be a little far-fetched as a modern fairy tale, but there is something about this book that is haunting and transcendent.  Read it for the poetic writing and magical imagery rather than for plot development.  See full post here.

Thus concludes our first installment of Favorite Fiction.  What would you add to the list?

P.S.  If you would like to read more about the fairy tale genre, I recommend that you visit the SurLaLune Fairy Tales blog.