Fairy Tales for me feel like something related to Disney or The Brothers Grimm. But I've read three books that have taken the concept of fairy tales and written fresh new stories
Fairy Tale by Stephen King
I'll be honest, I love Stephen King with a deep deep nerdy book love. I've been reading his books since I was a wee young teen. He has a specific style of writing that makes every story have a similar Stephen King feel and yet still interesting and fresh. And often very dark in a completely enjoyable way.
Fairy Tale is no different. It is the story of Charlie Reade, a 17-year-old boy, who discovers a parallel world where there is a darkness that has taken over that world. They are looking for a hero to come and rescue them.
Surprisingly, the first half of the book has nothing to do with fairy tales at all but rather about learning about who Charlie is and the relationship he builds with an old man and his old dog. But the whole time the suspense builds. I'll stop there... I don't want to give anything away. Like all Stephen King books, it is a hefty-sized book at 608 pages, c.o.m.p.l.e.t.e.l.y worth it.
Stardust By Neil Gaiman
I have taken an embarrassingly long time to discover Neil Gaiman. But I'm making up for it. I'm working through his Sandman graphic novels. Side note: The Sandman Netflix series is also excellent. I've finished his American Gods series which I thought was awesome and weird and different and so good.
Stardust is one of his that I finished recently that has strong links to classical fairy tales. Tristian Thorn lives in a small village that has an ancient wall that they are not allowed to cross. On the other side is Faerie which is a very different place from where he comes from. Tristian goes on a journey in that world to rescue a star and discover who he really is. He meets a witch, a trapped star, a kingdom without a king and many other adventures.
I found this story to be a really fun light read. Neil Gaiman similar to Stephen King has a very specific style of writing that is not overly complex but completely pulls me into the story. The world of Faerie is different and also familiar with a lot of common fairy tale characters and experiences. If you have never read Neil Gaiman before this is a good one to start with.
Nettle & Bone by T. Kingfisher
Nettle & Bone by T. Kingfisher is one of my favourite books of the year. The story is about Marra, the third-born princess in a very small kingdom, that sets out to rescue her sister that is stuck in an abusive marriage with a very powerful Prince. She meets a dust witch with a chicken that is possessed by a demon that sets out to help her. I don't think I need I say more at this point... The story is funny, action-packed and unexpected.
I found Nettle & Bone take a little time to get going but then I was completely hooked and read the rest of the book really quickly. My wife also found it to be excellent even though she is not a big fantasy fan like myself. If you are looking for book ideas to fill someone's Christmas stocking. This would be my pick.
Happy reading... 📚