Book Review

Twisted Fairy Tales

If you like your fairy tales more Brothers Grimm than Disney, you’re in for a treat with this lot…

The Bloody Chamber and Other Stories – Angela Carter

Angela Carter is often seen as the queen of the reimagined fairy tale. In this collection, the stories are as dark, twisted and brilliantly written as they come. The main story, The Bloody Chamber, is a retelling of the French folk tale Bluebeard, which sees a young wife make a gruesome discovery in a locked room at her new husband’s house. The collection also includes retellings of Puss in Boots, Sleeping Beauty, Snow White and Red Riding Hood.

The Surface Breaks – Louise O’Neill 

The Surface Breaks is a feminist reimagining of The Little Mermaid. In Gaia’s world, mermaids are supposed to look good, entertain the mermen and stay subservient. Gaia’s father, the king, rules with an iron fist. Gaia swaps her life underwater, her tail and her voice for a chance with the man she saves from a shipwreck. But is he really worth it? An intriguing, thought-provoking tale.

Revolting Rhymes – Roald Dahl

Dahl’s childhood classic is more than 35 years old but still just as funny today. Six well-known fairy stories are reimagined in rhyme, with various twists to the tales and extra helpings of gore. Cinderella’s stepsister has her head chopped off, Red Riding Hood turns out to be a crack shot with a pistol and Jack’s mum gets eaten when she climbs the beanstalk. Great fun for kids and parents alike.

The True Story of Hansel and Gretel – Louise Murphy

In Nazi-occupied Poland, two Jewish children take on new identities – Hansel and Gretel. Pursued by soldiers, the children’s father and stepmother urge the children to seek safety in the forest while they try to draw the danger away. Deep in the woods lives an old woman who may be the children’s only hope. A harrowing read, but a memorable one.

Grimm Tales for Old and Young – Philip Pullman

Pullman has reworked 50 of the Grimm brothers’ tales. He’s kept most of the content the same, but updated the language and ‘tidied them up’. The collection includes well-known tales, such as Rapunzel, Cinderella and Rumpelstiltskin, along with lesser-known stories such as Hans-My-Hedgehog and The Musicians of Bremen.

Kissing the Witch – Emma Donoghue

Donoghue wrote Kissing the Witch long before her bestselling Room. It’s a collection of 13 rewritten well-known tales, including Cinderella, Beauty and the Beast, and Snow White. Whether it’s Cinderella choosing the Fairy Godmother over the prince, or Beauty discovering an entirely unexpected Beast, the tales are original and well-written. They’re also very short – perfect for enjoying over a coffee break.