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Stephanie Garber on Her Favourite Fairytale Retellings

Posted on 4th October 2021 by Mark Skinner

If you're missing the magic of the Caraval series then the news of a brand new fantasy epic from Stephanie Garber packed with romance, intrigue and bewitching storytelling is a major event. Featuring a young woman who makes a dangerous bargain with the manipulative Prince of Hearts, Once Upon a Broken Heart is full of the singular wonder of classic fairytales. In this exclusive piece, Garber recommends her favourite modern fantasy novels that retell fairytales in fresh and exciting ways.

I love beautiful stories that are edged in shadows, which is one of many reasons that I adore fairytale retellings. The combination of something pleasantly familiar twisted into something darkly unexpected hooks me every time. When I’m not writing, I love reading fairytale retellings and here are a list of some of my favorites.

Six Crimson Cranes by Elizabeth Lim 

This book is one of my newest favorites. Both charming and delightful, Six Crimson Cranes elegantly weaves together elements of The Wild Swans, Cinderella, the legend of Chang E, and the Tale of the Bamboo Cutter. This is one of those books that you can judge by its cover because both are absolutely beautiful. It’s also just a really fun story. It has evil stepmothers, clever curses, and a very sexy dragon.

£14.99 £12.99
Hardback
10+ in stock
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Inspired by the Grimm Brothers' fairy tale The Six Swans, Lim's evocative fantasy follows a banished princess' quest to track down her transformed cousins.
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A Curse So Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer 

Beauty and the Beast is perhaps one of my favorite fairytales. I’m always a fan of falling in love with a monster and I fell very hard for the monstrous prince in Brigid Kemmerer’s spellbinding A Curse So Dark and Lonely. This contemporary fantasy, uses one of my favorite devices—the portal—to thrust its modern day heroine into a fantastic fairytale world where she must do more than just break a curse to save a kingdom, a prince, and herself.

£7.99
Paperback
10+ in stock
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The opening instalment of Kemmerer's epic retelling of Beauty and the Beast finds a headstrong girl pulled into the orbit of the tormented Prince Rhen - cursed to transform into a hideous creature at the end of each autumn.
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The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert

This book takes fairytale retellings to an entirely new level. The Hazel Wood doesn’t just retell one fairytale, it creates an entirely new set of disturbing fairytales that make the forbidding stories of the Brothers’ Grimm look downright cheerful. Deeply atmospheric, mysterious, and delightfully insidious, this contemporary fantasy is perfect for the sort of reader who’d rather see a princess kill the prince instead of kiss him.

£7.99
Paperback
10+ in stock
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Much more in tune with the gothic sensibility of Grimm than the wholesome sentimentality of Disney, The Hazel Wood posits links between the dark fairy tales of our protagonist’s grandmother and our own equally perilous world.
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Midnight in Everwood by M.A. Kuzniar

Decadent, delicious, and delightfully escapist are a few of the words that come to mind when I think of M.A. Kuzniar’s utterly immersive Nutcracker retelling. The descriptions in this book are absolutely magical—everything is sugared glass, edible castles, glittering parties, and, of course, like all the best fairytales it’s all woven together with a series of sinister threads. Just make sure you have a mug of hot coco handy because this book will make your sweet tooth ache!

£14.99
Hardback
Coming soon - 28/10/2021
Awaiting publication
A breathtaking, gothic twist on the story of The Nutcracker, Kuzniar’s bewitching debut focuses on a young Northern ballerina and the mysterious toymaker whose sinister magic holds out the promise of fulfilling all her dreams.
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Alice in Zombieland by Gena Showalter 

I’m not usually a fan of zombies but I am a huge lover of Alice in Wonderland. So, despite my fear of zombies, I bought this book when it first released. Like Alice in Wonderland, Alice in Zombieland is strange and peculiar and it is an absolute trip to read. It’s been a while since I’ve opened this particular paranormal novel, so the details are hazy, but I still remember the amazing kissing scenes. For that reason alone, I recommend this book, but I also think it’s a perfect combination of fun, frightening, and fantastically unexpected.

£9.99
Paperback
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Sly, sexy and terrific fun, Showalter's delicious mash-up of Lewis Carroll and the undead puts a fresh new spin on a children's classic with playful gothic self-awareness.
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The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh 

Renee Ahdieh knows how to write romance. This Arabian Nights retelling is painfully romantic and devastatingly swoony. The prince in this story is another one of those monsters you can’t help but fall in love with. I still remember frantically turning the pages of this lushly written tale, knowing there was no way it could end well, but still hoping somehow it would give me an impossible happily ever after.

£8.99
Paperback
10+ in stock
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This brilliantly realised twist on the Arabian Nights sees young Shazi attempt to defy the murderous whim of the Caliph of Khorasan whilst uncovering even darker and more sinister plots that threaten every woman in the kingdom.
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Daughter of the Moon Goddess by Sue Lynn Tan

This book doesn’t release until 2022, but I had to add it to my list because I’m absolutely obsessed with this breathtaking retelling of Chang E. I can't remember the last time a book surprised and delighted me as much as this one. Epic, romantic, and enthralling from start to finish, this debut novel will sweep readers away to the moon and back.

£14.99
Hardback
Coming soon - 20/01/2022
Awaiting publication
Beginning the Celestial Kingdom duology, Tan's evocative fantasy is a sweeping story of magic, romance and mythology that takes the legend of the Chinese moon goddess as its jumping off point.
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