thinking out loud

(More Than) Ten Books Every Fairy Tale Fan Should Read

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly bookish meme hosted by The Broke and The Bookish.

I’m not sure when and how it happened, exactly, but around the time I started working part-time at the bookstore (I was still doing my BA back then!) I realised that I was reading a lot of books about fairies. And fairy tale retellings. Since I don’t do as much of the former these days, but am still very much into the latter, I’m choosing that as my topic for this week’s Top Ten Tuesday. Except that I’m not restricting my post to ten books, because I’m going to go with my three favourite fairy tales instead!

Tam Lin

My absolute favourite, and a ballad, rather than a fairy tale. You can listen to a version of it by Fairport Convention here, or check out the many variations of it here. I was introduced to it when I read Diana Wynne Jones’ Fire and Hemlock (which also had elements of East of the Sun and West of the Moon, and Thomas the Rhymer), and then Pamela Dean’s Tam Lin. I suspect that these books also got me started on the whole fairy/fairytale thing.

AnEarthlyKnight fireandhemlock mirkandthemidnighthour perilousgard
tamlin thornjack tithe

Okay, I did not realise that I’d hit ten with just Tam Lin. Some of these (like Tam Lin and An Earthly Knight) are closer retellings than others (Tithe and The Treachery of Beautiful Things, for example.) Thorn Jack is like a Tam Lin AU. Some are mixed with other fairy tales (like the aforementioned Fire & Hemlock). Some are historical (The Perilous Gard), most are low fantasy, and one is science fiction (Red Shift). But they’re all Tam Lin, in one form or another.

Another title that Tam Lin fans may enjoy is Sarah J. Maas’ A Court of Thorns and Roses, which isn’t on this list, but has obvious influences of both Tam Lin and East of the Sun, West of the Moon (next in my list). It’s not in the list because it’s main influence is Beauty and the Beast.

There are more books based on Tam Lin out there, but a lot of them are unfortunately out of print now.

East of the Sun, West of the Moon

Confession: back before searching all these stuff on the internet was as simple as typing some words on google, I had to do some mad research to find The Blue Fairy Book. (Another confession: I may have had a hand in the fact that all the fairy books are available at Kinokuniya now.) Anyway, this was another of the stories that DWJ’s Fire & Hemlock was based on, and quickly became my obsession after Tam Lin. I didn’t find as many books based on it, though. Oh, and you can read the original story here.

fireandhemlock east ice sunandmooniceandsnow

So there’s Diana Wynne Jones, again, and three awesome books.

The Wild Swans/Six Swans

Before I knew about Tam Lin or East of the Sun, West of the Moon, this was my absolute favourite. Obviously, I like stories about transformations – other favourites of mine include Beauty and the Beast, Donkeyskin, and The Goose Girl. You could read the original here, and below are some retellings I’ve enjoyed.

birdwing daughteroftheforest spinningstarlight swankingdom

My favourite of these is Juliet Marillier’s, although I do really recommend the others. Birdwing is beautifully written, and is told from a unique perspective – that of one of the princess’ brothers, the one who ended up with one bird wing instead of an arm at the end of the story.

If you’ve read any of these, what did you think of them? Do you know of retellings of these stories that I didn’t mention? What are your favourite retellings?


7 thoughts on “(More Than) Ten Books Every Fairy Tale Fan Should Read

  1. I’ve not read any of this, but I do own a copy of Juliet Marillier’s Daughter of the Forest but have not read it yet. Personally, I’ve not read too many retellings…and sadly can’t think of any from the top of my head 😦 But this was a good list 🙂 I gotta check some of these out! I did not do this week’s TTT…but feel free to check out some of my past ones 😉


    1. I just realised that I’ve yet to reply to comments on this post (sorry!). I’ve read McKinley’s Spindle’s End and Beauty, and Sunshine which is sort of a Beauty and the Beast retelling. Love them 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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