Saturday, May 29, 2010

Fairytales in Fantasy

Fairy tales have been a part of most people’s lives during their childhood. These type of tales are a part of every culture. Writers began collecting and publishing fairy tales as early as the 16th century. Familiar names associated with fairy tales are Charles Perrault, the Grimm brothers and Hans Christian Anderson. These men made fairy tales available to everyone. In recent times, fairy tale retellings have become a vital part of the Fantasy genre, recreated by authors of many talents.

A different take on the tooth fairy is told by Graham Joyce in The Tooth Fairy. Set in England, this is the story of a young boy named Sam and some of his friends. He wakes up one night, encountering the tooth fairy. This begins a long, convoluted relationship between the boy and a dangerous, violent creature over many years. Mr. Joyce creates a dark fairy tale in a complex coming-of-age story of three young people and a creature from our darker side.

Beauty by Robin McKinley is an excellent retelling of the “Beauty and the Beast” story. Ms. McKinley brings the characters to life with vivid descriptions. Beauty is a strong young woman that goes to live in the castle of the Beast in place of her father. She finds a magical place full of wonder and a troubled Beast. Dealing with things changes both characters by the end of the book. The author is a master of bringing fairy tales to life.

Charles de Lint is a master of Urban Fantasy, infusing magic into modern day city settings. Jack of Kinrowan is a fairy tale set in the Canadian city of Ottawa. Jacky Rowan develops the Sight which draws her into a battle between two factions of Fairy. Made up of two earlier books, this one is highly descriptive with likable characters and entertaining plots. Mr. de Lint uses the elements of fairy tales to bring a created city to magical life.

A Scottish ballad fairy tale is the basis for Ellen Kushner’s Thomas the Rhymer. Thomas is a wandering harper who meets Elspeth when he stops for an evening. Later he is captured by the Queen of Elfland. Returning to Elspeth after seven years, Thomas can only tell the truth. This creates a difficult situation for their relationship along with the separation of years. Ellen Kushner is a masterful storyteller, using vivid prose to give a magical story a powerful depth.

Orson Scott Card provides a retelling of “Sleeping Beauty” in Enchantment. The author mixes the fairy tale with Russian mythology to tell a different story. An American college student is pulled into the ninth century to live out a Russian Fairy tale. He and the princess must battle with the witch Baba Yaga to find happiness. Mr. Card is an excellent story teller, bringing a wonderful fairy tale to life.

Winter Rose is by author Patricia McKillip, a highly talented author of the genre. Two sisters have their lives get entangled with Corbet Lynn when he returns to rebuild Lynn Hall. His family is under a curse from a past indiscretion. The practical sister Laurel falls in love with him. Rois Melior is wild with a touch of magic. Drawn to Corbet too, she tries to unravel his past in order to save her sister. Ms. McKillip creates an entertaining fairy tale with her imaginative talent, adding another classic to her works.

The Porcelain Dove by Delia Sherman is a mixture of Historical Fantasy and French fairy tales. Told through the eyes of a chamber maid, Ms. Sherman creates a strange, magical chateau existing in the pre-revolutionary era of France. The chateau is called Beauxpres and located in the Jura mountains. At this place, no one ages and the servants are nearly invisible. There is a curse on the family, which sets off a quest to find a porcelain dove in order to destroy the curse. Readers will find an entertaining book, rich in detail, from a highly talented author.

Fairy tales have been a popular entertainment throughout human history. Fantasy authors are taking fairy and folk tales from around the world, and retelling them in new ways for modern readers. The books mentioned here are just a few in this category. There are many entertaining books for adult readers and young adults too. Other possibilities includes an anthology series edited by Terri Windling. For more books check out the list at:

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