fairy tales

Once Upon a River

By Diane Setterfield
Rated by Meghan F
Apr 29, 2020

Fairy tales are often dismissed as stories only for children, but I've never been able to stop reading them, even as an adult.  C.S. Lewis said it best when he wrote, "Some day you will be old enough to read fairy tales again."  These types of stories are ones I turn to again and again, whether they be new tales or the dark, Grimm originals.  I especially love historical novels that incorporate fairy tale elements - which is why I was so excited when I heard about the new book by Diane Setterfield.

Set in a small English town on the river Thames, the story centers around a local inn, The


By Marissa Meyer
Rated by Megan K.
Oct 8, 2019

The second book in the Lunar Chronicles, Scarlet, is a take on the well known tale of Little Red Riding Hood. The main character and namesake of this second installment of The Lunar Chronicles is Scarlet, a farm girl on the outskirts of a small French town. Caution: some unintentional spoilers may be in the full review.

The Hazel Wood

By Melissa Albert
Rated by Chris K.
Mar 21, 2018

I'm not a fan of gruesome, graphic, gory horror; however, I'm a big fan of stories that are dark. Atmospheric. Disquieting. Plumbing the depths of the human psyche. Some of those stories are creepy dark. Some of them are deliciously dark. The Hazel Wood is gritty dark.

Alice has spent her life haunted by a collection of dark fairy tales famously authored by her grandmother. Haunted, and hounded. Always on the run, in one way or another, with her rootless mother. A loving, fiercely protective mother who has always been fully open and honest about everything. Except for one topic: Alice's

Kubo and the Two Strings

By Laika
Rated by Rachel C.
Jun 20, 2017

"If you must blink, do it now. Pay careful attention to everything you see and hear, no matter how unusual it may seem. And please be warned, if you fidget, if you look away, if you forget any part of what I tell you, even for an instant, then our hero will surely perish."

Thus begins the saga of Kubo.

I don't want to give away plot details, so I'll talk about themes. There is exploration of family, both good and bad. Well-meaning relatives can want what they feel is best for you, but still be hurting you. But the ones who shelter you, no matter how flawed, will do their best by you

Raven Girl

By Audrey Niffenegger
Rated by Sam S.
Jun 8, 2017

Raven Girl is the story of a girl-raven child produced by a lonely postman and the raven he fell in love with. It's a uniquely illustrated, dark, short novel—similar to Niffenegger's The Three Incestuous Sisters. The story opens with a postman rescuing a young raven who has fallen from her nest. After bringing her home and restoring her to good health, the two begin a life together and eventually fall in love. They produce a child, a girl. Though she appears human, she communicates in squawks and screeches and endlessly yearns for the sky. The story follows her as she approaches adulthood and

Every Heart A Doorway

By Seanan McGuire
Rated by Josh N.
May 26, 2017

There's a long tradition of stories about children who stumble into another world, a fantastic world that works in completely different ways from our world. The children follow a talking rabbit down a rabbit hole or walk through the back of an old wardrobe or are swept up by a tornado and dropped onto an evil witch. At the end of the story, the child returns to our world a little wiser, but none the worse for wear. Seanan McGuire's Every Heart a Doorway, recently given a Nebula award for Best Novella, plays with and expands on this tradition, and the results are wonderful and frightening.


Into the Woods

By Stephen Sondheim
Rated by Caitlin T.
Dec 3, 2015

What a fabulous movie version of this amazing musical! This is arguably Stephen Sondheim's best musical with lyrics that will make you laugh, make you think, and make you rewind to listen to them again. Though I was nervous when the movie rights were sold to Disney, I was delighted to find they did not sugarcoat the potentially risqué topics of infidelity, child abandonment, and death.

The singing is fabulous with the two exceptions being the two biggest names, Meryl Streep and Johnny Depp. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences clearly disagrees with me though, since Ms. Streep

A Thousand Nights

By E. K. Johnston
Rated by Dawna O.
Nov 30, 2015

Johnston weaves a beautiful tale of sisterhood and love, while re-creating the story A Thousand and One Nights. Similar to the original story, this is a desert setting and the king has taken 300 wives, one from each village, before coming to the village of our unnamed heroine. She asks her sister’s mother to help ready her for the king. She wants to take the focus off of her sister and offer herself to the king instead, in order to save her sister. She is swept away with the king, as he has chosen her, and taken to his palace. Each night the king comes to her to listen to her tell stories of

The Sleeper and the Spindle

By Neil Gaiman
Rated by Peggy H.
Nov 24, 2015

The princess is soon to be married and not very excited about the prospect.  She believes a life of matrimony will be the end of her ability to live her own life and make her own choices; she will be required to live and choose for the king and the kingdom.

Three dwarves wind their way through tunnels beneath the mountains to reach a city on the far side. They are seeking the most beautiful fabric available to offer as a wedding gift to their beloved princess. When they reach the first village on the other side, terrible news awaits them. A sleeping sickness is slowly creeping across the

Crimson Bound

By Rosamund Hodge
Rated by Chris K.
Oct 29, 2015

Young Rachelle was trained to protect her people from the dark creatures that surround them, which she has always been determined to do. But she hasn't wanted to simply defend, she wants to boldly attack them. She learned the hard way that, unfortunately, sometimes the only effective way to attack the darkness is to embrace it. Now she clings desperately to her soul as one of those creatures, trying to hold off the darkness within herself while still protecting the people. And her work has moved her from a woodland village to the court of the king.

Hodge has meshed a nice array of elements

A Thousand Nights

By E.K. Johnston
Rated by Jennifer R.
Oct 9, 2015

There are monsters in the desert. They came from the sea and fought with man, but now they wait, picking off their victims one at a time until they see fit to rage against the world of man once more. 

As Lo-Melkhiin rides the storm into Her (there are no names in the book except for Lo-Melkhiin) village, She knows that he is coming to claim a new bride and her beautiful sister will most likely be his pick. Lo-Melkhiin has had three hundred brides already, and each one has met a swift death.

Without a second thought, She makes it so there is no other choice but to pick Her as his bride

Cruel Beauty

By Rosamund Hodge
Rated by Jennifer R.
Apr 29, 2015

Before she was even born, Nyx was sold by her brutish father to the demon Gentle Lord that rules over Arcadia. He made a bet with the Gentle Lord, and lost, like many other foolish people in Arcadia. It has suffered for almost 1000 years under the Gentle Lord's rule and the demons that escape his castle from time to time. When a person lays eyes on a demon they either die or go insane. So things don't look too good for Nyx. She arrives at his castle, ready to kill him, as she has been trained, but things of course don't go according to plan.
Nyx is not the average female heroine. She is

The Boy Who Lost Fairyland

By Valente, Catherynne
Rated by Jo F.
Mar 31, 2015

The Fairyland series is whimsical - its language has both beauty and humor, and its content is a knowing, friendly wink to fellow lovers of fairy stories. There aren't just inventive "turns of phrase" - the phrases do more than turn - they galumph riotously across the page. But lest you think it's all play: moments of surprising clarity and gravitas can be found throughout the each book in the series. They come at you unexpectedly, and are all the more powerful for it. The fourth wall is often broken by the charming narrator and every character will seem both familiar and surprising as readers lose themselves in this unruly and deliciously wild tale.

The Ocean at the End of the Lane

By Neil Gaiman
Rated by Robin D.
Sep 27, 2014

In The Ocean at the End of the Lane, author Neil Gaiman presents a magical fairy tale that completely captures the reader’s imagination.  This is a book you will not want to put down once you have started reading, so it is a good thing that, at just over 200 pages in length, it is an easy day read!  The story unfolds as the narrator, a man in his fifties, returns home to England to speak at a funeral. (One of the many things you will ponder is whose funeral is he at….the reader is left to wonder.)  Having a few hours to kill after the funeral and wanting to avoid other people, he returns to

Far Far Away

By Tom McNeal
Rated by Kate M.
Jun 24, 2014

An amazing and unique retelling of Hansel and Gretel this story is narrated by the Jacob Grimm himself, caught in the plane between life and death. Jacob has become rather fond of Jeremy Johnson Johnson, who has the unique ability to hear spirits, a gift that has ostracized him from many in his small town of Never Better, unfortunately suffering from a rash of missing persons. Luckily it does not deter the friendship of the enigmatic and problematic Ginger Boultinghouse, who’s thirst for adventure has gotten them both in trouble on more than one occasion. Ginger's plans, and Jeremy's unique

Feb 6, 2014

The third book in Catherynne M. Valente's Fairyland series, The Girl Who Soared Over Fairyland and Cut the Moon in Two, may be the best of the lot. (I reviewed the first two books here and here.) September, the young Nebraska girl who is our protagonist, is growing older and growing up. She desperately wants to return to Fairyland, but she's also anxious about her future there and at home. She doesn't know what she wants to do with her life, what she'll be when she grows up, and she's certain this is something she needs to figure out as soon as possible. She's insecure and uncertain, and when

Jul 21, 2013

This sequel to the dreamy and delightful The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making is at least just as good as the first book, possibly better. It's a little darker, a little stranger, and a bit more complicated, but just as whimsical and wondrous.

Our heroine, September, is back home in Omaha with her mother, still missing her father, who is off at war. She feels out of place in school, out of touch with the mundane life of her classmates. She longs to return to the fantastic Fairyland...which she does, of course. Only to find that things are not good in Fairyland

Apr 8, 2013

A modern-day fairy tale with some teen drama and angst thrown in!  A 15-year-old girl brings a storybook character to life as she struggles with her own real-life issues. My 12-year-old daughter and I both really enjoyed this book! It would make a great mother/daughter read. The audiobook provides three different voices which added to my enjoyment of the story.  Another fun fact is that it is co-written with Jodi Picoult’s daughter.

Apr 2, 2013

Catherynne M. Valente's The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making is a wonderful, magical fairy-tale fantasy that is aimed at children but doesn't talk down to them—and is written in a way that will appeal to adults, too. It's a fantasy in the same vein as Alice in Wonderland, The Phantom Tollbooth, and L. Frank Baum's Oz books. In The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland, 12-year-old September is whisked away from her home in Omaha, Nebraska by the Green Wind and taken to Fairyland on his steed, the Leopard of Little Breezes. September has a wondrous, mysterious

Who's the fairest of them all?

By Gail Carson Levine
Rated by Kate M.
Dec 9, 2011

What is it about the tale of Snow White that keeps coming back? The story is hundreds of years old, but 2012 will bring two new (and drastically different) movie adaptations of the tale. In preparation, you might want to check out these novel adaptations of the story.

Fairest by Gail Carson Levine

In a land where beauty and singing are valued above all else, Aza eventually comes to reconcile her unconventional appearance and her magical voice, and learns to accept herself for who she truly is.

Snow in Summer by Jane Yolen

Snow in Summer is a girl growing up in West Virginia in the


By Alex Flinn
Rated by Sarah W.
Aug 16, 2010

Beastly by Alex FinnI bought Beastly shortly after I saw the movie trailer. I wanted to read it before the movie came out. Then it got lost on my bookshelves and I didn't unearth it until Audiobook Community chose Beastly as a free audiobook last week. I started listening and couldn't get enough. It was fun to listen to and pick apart the differences I could see in the movie already. I won't give them away, but you can see the trailer for yourself here. Alex Flinn wrote this version of the classic Beauty and the Beast tale from the beast's perspective, Kyle Kingsbury aka Adrian King. Kyle was not a nice kid at