Monday, December 8, 2008

Retelling of: Hansel and Gretel

The True Story of Hansel and Gretel by Louise Murphy

This is a haunting new adaptation of a grim fairy tale. Young Jewish children, Hansel and Gretel, whose names have been changed to protect their heritage, flee into the woods of Poland with their family. In an effort to keep the children safe, their father and stepmother send them further into the woods, leaving the couple alone to draw the Nazi searchers away from the youths. Hansel and Gretel walk alone until they find a cottage in the woods, inside is an outcast Gypsy woman who harbors them and tries to keep them safe. But how long can the feeling of safety last in a world torn apart by hunters who want to find the concealed children? This novel recounts both a fairy tale and a dark portion of German history, illuminating the sacrifices, vices and perseverance of the human soul.

Check out a reading guide to The True Story of Hansel and Gretel and an interview with the author!

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Retelling of: Beauty and the Beast

Beastly by Alex Flinn

Kyle Kingsbury wants to be crowned king of Tuttle Prep, the school he attends. He is beautiful and gets all he could want with his newscaster father's money, but he especially wants to become king, and who wouldn't vote for him? There is a goth girl in his English class who doesn't seem to keen on Kyle's fun for king though; as she crumples up his flyer, complaining that pretty people get everything. To get back at the goth girl, who is seeming more and more like a witch to Kyle, he asks her to the school dance, a dance which he already has a hot date for. Humiliated and embarrassed, the girl calls Kyle what he really is, beastly. Thus, a curse is placed up Kyle and he is transformed from boy to beast; forced to hide by day and prowl the city at night. Can he break the curse and become human again?

Retelling of: East of the Sun, West of the Moon

Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow by Jessica Day George

The lass is the last born daughter to a poor woodcutter and his wife. Her parents are so dismayed at the thought of another female mouth to feed, that they refer to the girl only as the pika. In such wilderness of the North it is dangerous to not have a name, as trolls would love to seize the opportunity to snatch up such a vulnerable child. But one day the lass changes her fate when she frees a white reindeer. In thanks the beast gives her two gifts, a name and the ability to understand the speech of animals. However, the second gift seems to turn against the lass when a great white polar bear comes to her home, demanding that she come with him to his palace farther north. The conditions are that she must remain with him for one year, then her family will be rich and she can go home. Can the lass keep her promise or will she destroy everyone's chances of a new life when she uncovers a mysterious secret?

Retelling of: The Wild Swans

The Swan Kingdom by Zoe Marriott

This is the story of Alexandra, a plain and unobtrusive girl. Her father and mother are fair, compassionate rulers, and her mother possesses powerful healing abilities. Her three older brothers are kind, handsome and brilliant. But Alexandra, possesses a gift unlike any of her other family members, she has a connection with the very land and earth upon which she stands. Tragedy strikes the family when her mother is killed by a beast with chestnut fur. While questing for the beast so that he may exact his revenge, Alexandra's father becomes ensnared by the charms of a chestnut haired woman and unexpectedly remarries, much to the dismay of the four children. Sinister events are put into motion with the pronouncement of their father's marriage vows and sister and brothers are separated. Can Alexandra solve the mystery to her brothers' disappearance and save their lives? Will she be able to come out of the shadows that have seemed so comfortable until now?

Retelling of: Twelve Dancing Princesses

Wildwood Dancing by Juliet Marillier

This story takes place in Romania and tells of five sisters who travel through a portal every full moon to dance in the Realm of the Faerie. Jena, is the second oldest of her father's daughters, Tatiana, Iulia, Paula and Stela. The two eldest sisters, Tatiana and Jena, take it upon themselves to maintain their father's household while he is away for the winter due to illness. This does not prove easy as their cousin, Cezar, seeks to intensify his grip over the household and the girls. Jena's problems become even larger when her elder sister, Tatiana, falls in love with a creature of the faerie realms, one of the Night People, a vampire. With the help of her sisters and her best friend, a frog, can Jena prevail over Cezar and sinister forces within the Faerie Realm?

Also by Juliet Marillier:

Cybele's Secret is a companion novel to Wildwood Dancing, taking place six years later. The story follows the youngest sister, Paula, as she travels with her father to Istanbul in search of the Cybele's Gift, a pagan artifact which threatens the Muslim political powers with its very existence. Pick up this novel if you liked Wildwood Dancing, it will not disappoint!

Retelling of: Sleeping Beauty

Spindle's End by Robin McKinley

The heroine of this tale is Rosie, the infant princess who is cursed to die on her 21st birthday by spindle prick. The baby Rosie is spirited away to live with a peasant fairy, Katriona, in a rural village in the hopes that she may be kept safe from the curse. Rosie grows into a headstrong, willful young lady and possess an uncanny ability to communicate with animals. Preferring breeches to ball gowns, Rosie despises her golden hair and loves the life that she grew up having. This novel illustrates the theory of nurture over nature in the development of an individual's personality traits, rather than being defined by her birthright Rosie is defined by her actions and upbringing. This retelling introduces new characters to a familiar tale in Peony, Rosie's best friend, Narl the blacksmith and an assortment of incredible animal friends. McKinley illustrates a strong, independent heroine who can take care of herself and is far from the archetypal meek princess. A must read for all who wished they could talk to animals, here's your chance to experience the inner thoughts of hedgehogs and horses!

Other fairy tale novels by Robin McKinley include:

Beauty was McKinley's debut novel published more than twenty years ago, but still remains one of her most popular books. This is the story of a widower and his three daughters, Grace, Hope and Honour. The youngest sister, Honour, decides that her name is boring and would rather be beautiful than honorable. Thus, the nickname sticks and she is from then on known as Beauty. However, despite her name change, Beauty grows into a gawky and plain young woman but cares little for her lack of beauty instead taking pride in her ability with horses. When the family's business goes bankrupt they must uproot themselves and more to a cottage in the country. Remarkably, the family adjusts to their new lifestyle and thrives. That is until one day when their father makes an unexpected stop at a curious manor where he is received by a mysterious host...

Rose Daughter is another adaptation of the Beauty and the Beast tale. Jeweltongue, Lionheart and Beauty are three sisters living in a cottage with their father. Beauty possesses an affinity for gardening flowers, particularly roses, as they remind the girl and the family fondly of their deceased mother. This is a talent that serves Beauty very well as she nurtures the Beast's dying rose garden within his manor. Now, you might be thinking that two novels of such similar concepts from the same author might be a little redundant, but McKinley shows her literary prowess and the reader will not be disappointed.

The Door in the Hedge is a collection of four short stories, two original fairy tales and two re-imaginings. "The Stolen Princess" and "The Hunting of the Hind" are McKinley's own creations, while "The Princess and the Frog" and "The Twelve Dancing Princesses" show McKinley's skill in refashioning an old tale.

Deerskin is a retelling of a little known Charles Perrault fairy tale, Donkeyskin. Princess Lissar is the heir to her mother's great beauty and becomes the victim to her father's desire when his grief plunges him into uncontrollable madness. Lissar flees her father's house with her devoted dog, Ash, to seek solace in the great forest. A goddess of the forest, called only "the Lady", heals Lissar and transforms her hair from its deep black to a stark white. Lissar then travels to a nearby kingdom and falls for a handsome, dog loving prince. But will her horrific past destroy Lissar's chances to make a future?

Get updates on Robin McKinley on her website!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Retelling of: Snow Queen

Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr

This debut novel is a modern day fairy tale set in Huntsdale, Pittsburgh. High school junior, Aislinn and her grandmother both have the ability to see fairies, but hide their secret from other mortals and fairies alike, attempting to ward off unwanted attentions. The city, abundant with steel and iron, provides a perfect refuge for Aislinn because only the strongest of fairies can withstand the effects of iron. Yet, two fairies are stalking Aislinn in the city and are not deterred from the iron, because the Fairy King has set his sights on Aislinn and plans to make her his wife. The last unlucky girl to receive his attentions failed to pass the test and was sentenced to forever serve his mother, the evil Winter Queen. Will Aislinn be able to thwart the Winter Queen? More importantly, will she be able to choose between two guys, the mysterious tattooed outsider or the beautiful, ethereal fairy? You'll have to read the book to find out..

Other books by Melissa Marr include:

Ink Exchange is a companion novel to Wicked Lovely and focuses on Aislinn's friend, Leslie's, story. Leslie' world is being torn apart because of the decisions being made by her drug-dealer brother and drunken father, and so Leslie seeks to take charge of herself by getting a tattoo. She is drawn to the image of wings and a pair of eyes, but that symbol is more than it seems. By placing the mark upon her skin, Leslie unknowingly creates a connection between herself and the Dark Court of the fairy realm.

Fragile Eternity is the sequel to Wicked Lovely set to be released on April 19, 2009. Mark your calenders!

Check out Melissa's website!

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Listen to the Barnes & Noble Meet the Writers interview with Melissa Marr!

Check out a chat with the author about her books and writing