There are some fantastic Fairy tale Retellings and books based on folklore out there. Making this another list that I struggled to narrow down. Here are a few of my 5* recommendations!
Uprooted by Naomi Novik
“Listen, you impossible creature,” he said, “I’m a century and more older than–“
“Oh, be quiet,” I said impatiently.”
Agnieszka loves her valley home, her quiet village, the forests and the bright shining river. But the corrupted Wood stands on the border, full of malevolent power, and its shadow lies over her life. Her people rely on the cold, driven wizard known only as the Dragon to keep its powers at bay. But he demands a terrible price for his help: one young woman handed over to serve him for ten years, a fate almost as terrible as falling to the Wood.
The next choosing is fast approaching, and Agnieszka is afraid. She knows—everyone knows—that the Dragon will take Kasia: beautiful, graceful, brave Kasia, all the things Agnieszka isn’t, and her dearest friend in the world. And there is no way to save her. But Agnieszka fears the wrong things. For when the Dragon comes, it is not Kasia he will choose.
This book is loosely based on Beauty and the Beast, a favourite of mine. Agnieszka is a fantastic heroine, dependant on no one, and I loved the relationship between her and the Dragon. Their relationship is one of mutual learning, the Dragon teaching Agnieszka magic and her teaching him to be more human.
Novik’s writing is beautifully lyrical and she weaves fairytales and folklore seamlessly to create one of the best retellings out there today. This book is a standalone tale, however, Novik will release a second retelling “Spinning Silver” based on Rumpelstiltskin later on in the year and you can find my review for that here. I cant tell you how many times I’ve read this book and not once has it lost its magic!
The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden
“I gave everything for you, Vasilisa Petrovna.’ ‘Not everything,’ said Vasya. ‘Since clearly your pride is intact, as well as your illusions.”
At the edge of the Russian wilderness, winter lasts most of the year and the snowdrifts grow taller than houses. But Vasilisa doesn’t mind–she spends the winter nights huddled around the embers of a fire with her beloved siblings, listening to her nurse’s fairy tales. Above all, she loves the chilling story of Frost, the blue-eyed winter demon, who appears in the frigid night to claim unwary souls.
After Vasilisa’s mother dies, her father goes to Moscow and brings home a new wife. Fiercely devout, city-bred, Vasilisa’s new stepmother forbids her family from honoring the household spirits. The family acquiesces, but Vasilisa is frightened, sensing that more hinges upon their rituals than anyone knows.
And indeed, crops begin to fail, evil creatures of the forest creep nearer, and misfortune stalks the village. All the while, Vasilisa’s stepmother grows ever harsher in her determination to groom her rebellious stepdaughter for either marriage or confinement in a convent. As danger circles, Vasilisa must defy even the people she loves and call on dangerous gifts she has long concealed, in order to protect her family from a threat that seems to have stepped from her nurse’s most frightening tales.
This book isn’t based on a traditional fairy tale but intertwines folklore and fairy tales from Russia. Arden writes the perfect heroine is Vasilisa, a fantastic character that you cant help but bond with. One thing Arden does effortlessly is teach you all about another cultures folklore, I loved all the little “demons” and they became as much a part of the story as Vasilisa.
This story is beautifully written and is one of my favourite reads of the year.Arden manages to weave the unknown folklore of Russia and keep you enthralled right until the end. I have already ordered the Girl in the Tower, the second novel in the Winternight trilogy and can see this being a series that I do not want to end!
A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J Maas
“Be glad of your human heart, Feyre. Pity those who don’t feel anything at all.”
Feyre’s survival rests upon her ability to hunt and kill – the forest where she lives is a cold, bleak place in the long winter months. So when she spots a deer in the forest being pursued by a wolf, she cannot resist fighting it for the flesh. But to do so, she must kill the predator and killing something so precious comes at a price …
Dragged to a magical kingdom for the murder of a faerie, Feyre discovers that her captor, his face obscured by a jewelled mask, is hiding far more than his piercing green eyes would suggest. Feyre’s presence at the court is closely guarded, and as she begins to learn why, her feelings for him turn from hostility to passion and the faerie lands become an even more dangerous place. Feyre must fight to break an ancient curse, or she will lose him forever.
This is another Beauty and the Beast retelling but with a completely different take on the fairy tale. Feyre is once again a fantastically written heroine ( Can you see a theme here ;D) quite possibly my favourite female character! She is so easy to relate to and you create a bond with her from the first few pages. In Prythian Maas creates a world so detailed and intricate that you could believe it was real, and in my case want it to be!
ACOTAR is the first book in the series and I would highly recommend you read them all. This is one of my favourite series and I have read it multiple times. There are three novels and a Novella “A Court of frost and Starlight” out at the minute so get tucked in. I can guarantee you wont regret it!