Fairytales are an integral part of family tradition and sometimes of one’s beliefs. Whether it’s Cinderella or The Little Mermaid, we grew up with Disney’s purified versions of the taleS and as we grew older, we find that the original fairy tales were far bloodier and violent. Yet even with these in mind our love for fairy tales have not diminished. The entertainment and literary industry have created so many retellings from these children’s tales, enchanting even the most serious of adults.

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In truth, stripped down to its bare bones, fairy tales are far more relatable than expected.

In fairy tales, characters are faced with obstacles from an abusive household to discrimination to death to being homeless. The fact that the characters end up happy and in love speaks to our inner desires whether it’s becoming successful or simply being comfortable with ourselves, fairy tales try to tell us that it is possible.

But is this the only reason retellings have been increasing?

Nobody likes the neatly polished “happily ever after” at the end of each tale. We cry outrage that Sleeping Beauty would run to the man who raped, or that Ariel would give up her voice for a man she barely knew. Fairy tales have been sliced open, their motifs and themes examined by authors and researchers, bringing to life the feminine instinct in each of the stories.

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Personally, I can’t get enough of fairy tales.

They’re intoxicating and addictive; but at the same time, I find the stories have been getting a bit repetitive.

The stories we read have been overdone, the characters over-used, and the settings revolve around the same story-line. Yes, the characters have become more outspoken, fiercer, and retaliate against the villains and I wish this could have been enough for me but it’s not.

As beloved as these tales are they are lacking. My opinion, of course, isn’t meant to insult any of the books written. I haven’t read every fairy retelling out there, so my opinion comes from my limited reading.


Firstly, I read of fairy tales from around the world. Enough with the Disney princesses. There are so many more folklore of love and horror, of loss and greed, of creation and death; stories bringing to life creatures we’ve never heard of.

How about a story about the Jade Rabbit on the moon?

What of the La Huesera or Bone Woman from Mexico?

Princess Hase from Japan?

Better yet, we could pull away from focusing on the stories of humans and write about goblins, the Filipino manananggal, or the Nagas from Hindu mythology.

Then there’s the premise for the stories. I like that authors try to stay true to the fairy tales by sticking to the original story-line but I want to see more stories about the secondary characters, and not just the villains.

Why aren’t their stories being told? What if the Prince didn’t want to save the Princess? What if he didn’t care for a kingdom? What if it was the sister who slayed the dragon? There are so many “what if’s” that can be asked! If you look closely at fairy tales, you realize that there are many plot holes with vague characters – leaving so much space for people to twist a more extraordinary tale. As much as I love reading stories where Peter Pan becomes the villain or Red Riding Hood is actually a werewolf, give me characters who were unnamed but changed the story.

I do love that the characters have been given a voice. It’s wonderful to have little girls read stories where their princesses do daring things but, don’t hate me for this, I want know what the men’s stories were. There’s much focus on the feminine aspect of the tales that we forget the role men played in them, I mean, Prince Charming must have an actual name, right?

There’s much to be explored with folklore and fairy tales, so I don’t see why we stick to the same ones. Perhaps we truly aren’t able to let go of the girls and boys who helped us – not including me – grow up. While a majority of the retellings I’ve come across are Young Adult, I’ve found that adults also enjoy them immensely. So I do hope that there will be more stories voiced, more lessons taught, and a few adults left terrified and fascinated by the true brutality of fairy tales.

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What’s your favourite retelling? Is there a fairy tale you’d love to see retold? What’s one thing you’d like to see change with fairy tale retellings?

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22 thoughts on “[Belle’s Bookish Tales] MY EXPECTATIONS FOR FAIRY TALE RETELLINGS

  1. Krysta says:

    It does seem like “Cinderella” and “Beauty and the Beast” and even “Little Red Riding Hood” are always being retold. I have wondered for years why authors don’t branch out a little more! People love fairy tales retellings because they are familiar, but I think they also love the magic and the romance in many of them. (I just love the ones where the hero has to complete three tasks to gain prize, for instance. It’s a familiar trope, but it works. It’s all about perseverance and using your wits to outsmart the villain!) You can retell a story no one knows and it will have those elements–and might inspire them to read the story you loved enough to retell!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Cam @ Camillea Reads says:

      I love this comment! I do hope to see different stories in the future because I don’t think fairy tale retellings will ever go away! It’s so deeply entrenched in our culture, as you said because of the moral it serves us, so I’d love to see more done with it. Thank you for commenting!


  2. Belle says:

    I get what you mean about the same fairytales being retold over and over again. As much as I love Beauty and the Beast, I’d like to see more retellings of unpopular fairytales. I haven’t seen any fairytale retellings that haven’t been already done by Disney.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. FranL says:

    For my first retelling I did go with Beauty and the Beast, because I felt that it’s the story about which I had something to say. I speak a little bit about why here, and hopefully I’ll blog about it a bit more in the future https://franlaniado.wordpress.com/2017/04/06/why-beauty-and-the-beast/ But for my follow ups I’ve venturing out into some lesser known tales.

    As far as retelling tales that haven’t been done by Disney, they do exist! A lot of wonderful fairy tale retellings feature darker tales. Donkeyskin or Many-Furs has several interesting retellings including The Wild Girl by Kate Forsyth and Deerskin by Robin McKinley. Snow White and Rose Red (a story not related to Snow White and Seven Dwarves at all!) also gets a very dark retelling in Tender Morsels by Margo Lanagan. The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey is a melancholy retelling of The Snow Maiden (also called Snegurochka).

    But I think that there are more books inspired by fairy tales than we realize. For example, Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte and Rebecca by Daphne DuMaurier are strongly inspired by Bluebeard. Many of Jane Austen’s novels have fairy tale themes in them. Fairy tales influence the way we think about stories in general.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. theorangutanlibrarian says:

    I think that’s a great point about how there are so many other stories that could be explored and retold! And yes, I think that’s so true about how fairytales, stripped down to the bare bones are truly archetypal stories and that’s why they have so much weight. Great discussion!!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Chauncey Rogers says:

    Great post! I had to drop in and read this one since my current WIP is, for better or worse, a semi-retelling of Cinderella. Why Cinderella? My three-year-old daughter requested it, and I already had some ideas for it. It’s not exactly a retelling, though. It’s focus is on entirely different characters, with only some crossing over into my “telling.”
    In spite of being guilty with sticking to the Disney stories myself, I think that seeing more people branch out would be great. I think that perhaps some of the reason that they don’t is that once you’re far enough away from something familiar, maybe you just end up wanting to write something totally original. I’m not sure, but I’d guess that happens a fair amount.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Cam @ Camillea Reads says:

      That sounds interesting! I’ve loved Cinderella’s story & have always wanted to know the other side to it. There’s much vagueness regarding Cinderella. And yes, people do prefer something that is more nostalgic to them.

      Quite a few stories I’ve been seeing recently aren’t exactly retellings but you can see that there is some influence it which is quite interesting.

      Good luck with your book!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Kristen @ Metaphors and Moonlight says:

    I never even thought about how we always seem to get the princess/female version of things, but not the men. That could def be interesting! My biggest issue is that I want more actual retellings, whereas it seems like most books I find are just vaguely inspired-by or are a sequel of sorts. And I want more that are genderswapped or lgbt+ or feature disabled characters, that sort of thing!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction says:

    I think it would be interesting to see some of those lesser known fairy tales being told—we are starting to see more and more of that. Of course, the old standards will probably continue to get new stories because many people enjoy seeing a story they already know well told in a new way, which is an element that is missing with more obscure tales.

    Liked by 1 person

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