Fairy Tales for Adults

Many fairy tale retellings are written for young adults. Why not, when most of the protagonists are girls who are becoming women? You have YA Cinderella retellings in which the Cinderella character grows up and leaves her evil stepmother behind, and YA Beauty and the Beast retellings in which the Belle character falls in love with a beast. But what about adult retellings? Below are a collection of adult novels that retell or are inspired by particular fairy tales. But be warned – some of these stories are not meant for children. 

CINDERELLA

Gregory Maguire is well-known for his novel featuring the Wicked Witch of the West as the protagonist, the story which became a Tony Award-winning Broadway musical. Turning the antagonist in L. Frank Baum’s Oz series into the good guy. He does it again here, writing the story of the stepsisters who Cinderella leaves behind in the original version. In Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister, Maguire spins the popular fairy tale into the story of whether beauty really triumphs over ugliness. Will getting the prince really lead to a life of happily-ever-after? 


SNOW WHITE

Unlike Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister, Maguire’s retelling of “Snow White and the Seven Dwarves” fits more closely with the tale which inspired it. In Mirror Mirror, Don Vicente de Nevada is sent by Cesare and Lucrezia Borgia, children of a wicked pope, on a quest that will take years to accomplish, leaving his daughter, Bianca, in their care. Lucrezia becomes jealous of Bianca’s blossoming beauty, and, well, you know how the story goes. 

Things are much different in Neil Gaiman’s graphic novel retelling, Snow, Glass, Apples. The queen attempts to save her kingdom from her evil stepdaughter, but the girl, or creature, is not easily foiled. Between the graphic images and violent actions of the characters, this book is not for young readers or the faint of heart.


THE TWELVE DANCING PRINCESSES 

Not as popular as “Cinderella” or “Snow White,” the story of “The Twelve Dancing Princesses” is depicted in Genevieve Valentine’s The Girls at the Kingfisher Club. Every night, Jo “The General” and her eleven sisters sneak out to dance at club after club to temporarily escape the pressures at home, with their controlling father planning on setting them up for marriage. One night, they are caught in a raid and separated. Will Jo, the mother figure to all the girls, continue to put her sisters’ or father’s needs before her own?

MORE FAIRY TALES

The Snow White, Blood Red Anthology or Adult Fairy Tales series, edited by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling, is a curated collection of fairy tale retellings from some of the best writers, including Neil Gaiman (he just loves rewriting fairy tales), Charles de Lint, Jane Yolen, Robin McKinley, Patricia C. Wrede, Tanith Lee, and more! There are six books in this series, all available in ebook-format on hoopla:

Each volume of dark fairy tale retellings reimagines the classic tales we all know in story and poem form. Some of these same writers are contributors to another fairy tale anthology, Happily Ever After, edited by John Klima, also available on hoopla. 

For even more fairy tales, and not just ones for adults, take a look at the Folklore collection on Overdrive or through the Libby app. You’ll find some of the ya books from the YA Cinderella Retellings and YA Beauty and the Beast Retellings posts, as well as currently unmentioned titles. Annaleigh and her eleven sisters sneak out to dance at balls, and four of the girls meet a tragic demise in House of Salt and Sorrows, Erin A. Craig’s “Twelve Dancing Princesses” retelling. For more by Neil Gaiman, The Sleeper and the Spindle combines elements of “Snow White” and “Sleeping Beauty.”

hoopla also has an extensive Fairy Tales, Folk Tales, Legends & Mythology collection of ebooks. Find out what would have happened if Aladdin never found the lamp in Liz Braswell’s A Whole New World, watch Cinderella slay zombies in Ella, the Slayer by A. W. Exley, or go back to the beginning with The Original Folk and Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm

No matter what your favorite fairy tale is, Abbot Public Library has plenty to choose from!

Bedtime Stories for “Adulting” Fatigue

In times like these, “adulting” is more a necessity than an option. And if you’re feeling somewhat world-weary in consequence, you might take inspiration from one of Boston’s WCRB Classical Radio presenters, who has begun the charming Aurora Bedtime Story Project on Facebook Live and YouTube. Night after quarantined night, you can tune in at 9:30 pm (EST, Sundays-Fridays) to listen yourself into a not-so-grown-up state of wonder and relaxation. On the storytime menu? Alice in Wonderland, Winnie-the-Pooh, The Cricket in Times Square, several Beatrix Potter gems, some Grimm fairy tales, and The Wind in the Willows.

So, in the midst of  this very “adult” crisis, there is still that one, great childhood pleasure available to us: the inestimable comfort of being read to. If you don’t have the freedom in your schedule to tune into live performances, APL’s digital library is here for you 24/7! Our newly-curated hoopla audiobook collection–2020 APL Bedtime Stories for “Adulting” Fatigue–showcases some of the titles mentioned above, along with a number of other classic favorites.

So, if you’ve been meaning to read The Chronicles of Narnia–or at least The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe–since your fifth-grade classmate raved about it decades ago, now is your chance! Or escape into the wondrous world created by C. S. Lewis’s good friend J. R. R. Tolkien in The Hobbit. Or perhaps step into an enchanted Yorkshire realm as you unlock the gate to The Secret Garden. Even if you have read these or the other suggested titles before, it may well be therapeutic to tune in to a tucked-in, ready-for-a-bedtime-story feeling. Happy listening, and sweet dreams!