No new blog post today because I’m on a panel at VoyagerCon 2021! I’ll be talking with Kester Grant, Sue Lynn Tan and Kate Heartfield about retelling a classic at 3pm UK time on Saturday 11th September.
Guess what pals! It is officially FIVE DAYS AND THAT’S IT until the release of my debut novel, The Shadow in the Glass, and I’m fine. I’m tooooootally fine.
It’s a dark retelling of Cinderella and when I say dark, I do mean dark. (In my defence, the Brothers Grimm started it.) But it got me thinking about all the other great books which have been inspired by fairy tales, because that’s my whole thing. If you like the sound of my book, but can’t wait until it’s out to fill that fairy-godmother-shaped hole in your life, I can heartily recommend any of these:
Deathless by Catherynne M. Valente
A beautifully written retelling of the Russian fairy tale Marya Morevna, set in early 20th century Russia. I was intrigued by this one from the beginning because I always associate fairy tales with Ye Olden Times, and I was so curious to see how the magic would fit with a more industrialised setting. If you’ve ever wondered how undead sorcerers could merge with the Siege of Leningrad, this is the book for you. So dark and lovely that I have to sit with my feelings for a little bit every time I finish it.
2. Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik
A cleverly done retelling of Rumpelstiltskin rooted in Jewish history and culture. It plays with a lot of different cultural elements from Eastern Europe, which I loved, and I found it really refreshing to see a familiar story told from a cultural background which I’m not familiar with. Also it’s got a nice splash of enemies-to-lovers in there, and I know that’s one of everybody’s favourite tropes.
3. The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert
This one isn’t a retelling, but it is hands down one of the most atmospheric and dark modern fairy tales I’ve ever read. The story centres around Alice, a girl plagued by bad luck whose grandmother wrote a collection of extremely creepy fairy tales. You get snatches of the stories as you read (and they’ve just been published as a new book, Tales from the Hinterland) and they feel so real, I could completely believe they were written centuries before. It’s wonderfully creepy.
The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey
A retelling of Snegurochka, the old Russian fairy tale about a childless couple who make themselves a daughter out of snow. It’s set in the wilds of Alaska and it will break your heart ten times over.
5. The Bloody Chamber by Angela Carter
I mean I’m contractually obliged to put this on the list, aren’t I? Angela Carter is an absolute titan of the genre and her collection of fairy tale retellings set the standard for every single one which came after. They’re great, you should read them. I think my favourite of the collection is probably The Werewolf, a Red Riding Hood retelling which plays on traditional werewolf beliefs and kind of implies that Red maybe murdered her grandmother for her stuff. I always appreciate an enterprising protagonist.
6. Lost Boy by Christina Henry
A very dark retelling of Peter Pan told from the perspective of Captain Hook. Turns out the boy who never grew up has also not grown a conscience and knows a crocodile, so proceed with caution if you aren’t great with gore. Spoilers: no-one lives happily ever after.
7. Poison by Sarah Pinborough
A short read and definitely only for older readers, but one of the best Snow White retellings to really get into why the prince was so into the idea of a girl in a glass coffin. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: he is not a nice boy.
8. The Raven and the Reindeer by T. Kingfisher
A wonderful LGBT retelling of The Snow Queen. Gerda chases after Kay when he is taken away by the Snow Queen, as in the original fairy tale, but he doesn’t really deserve to be rescued. The robber-maiden, on the other hand, definitely does. Kingfisher has a fantastic knack for balancing dark and funny and makes the weird seem completely believable – she’s hands-down one of the best SFF writers out there and more people need to read her.
9. Snow, Glass Apples by Neil Gaiman
A Snow White retelling from the perspective of the evil queen, which makes it clear that she had a very, very good reason for cutting out Snow White’s heart. In this version she succeeds, which you’d think would put a crimp in Snow’s stride, but turns out Snow White is made of sterner stuff. Very dark and beautifully written, but what else do we expect from Neil Gaiman?
Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister by Gregory Maguire
A Cinderella retelling from the perspective of one of Cinderella’s stepsisters (as you may have guessed from the title). But it’s one that recasts the villains as sympathetic, believable characters all too aware of how good looks can affect a woman’s life. It’s firmly historical rather than fantasy and has a certain amount of frankness which you don’t often see in fairy tales, which I appreciated.
And there you have it! My recommendations for your fairy tale fix. Happy reading!
So! As many of you already know I have been working on my debut novel (GUYS I HAVE A BOOK COMING OUT DID I SAY) for most of this year. And yesterday, the cover was finally revealed.
HOLD ONTO YOUR BUTTS GUYS, IT’S GREAT!!
Here’s what it’s actually about:
Once upon a time Ella had wished for more than her life as a lowly maid.
Now forced to work hard under the unforgiving, lecherous gaze of the man she once called stepfather, Ella’s only refuge is in the books she reads by candlelight, secreted away in the library she isn’t permitted to enter.
One night, among her beloved books of far-off lands, Ella’s wishes are answered. At the stroke of midnight, a fairy godmother makes her an offer that will change her life: seven wishes, hers to make as she pleases. But each wish comes at a price and Ella must to decide whether it’s one she’s willing to pay.
With no further ado, I present to you the cover of THE SHADOW IN THE GLASS:
Look at it!! It’s just SO NICE. It’s spooky and great and an all-round knockout and I am unbelievably hype to share this story with you all. I have been working on this story since I was 17, so it’s about time!
It’s going to be available in March of next year from Harper Voyager, and if you’d like to preorder (which would be awesome of you, but no pressure), the link is here. It’s also up on NetGalley if you’d like to wish for an advance copy!