Retelling fairy tales is one of the most prolific acts of fanfiction in the publishing industry, although there’s more room to maneuver in retelling fairy tales than in more traditional fanfiction, but the impulse is the same—correcting or supplementing the original text. In any case, today we’re looking at a pair of retold fairy tales.
Beast by Donna Jo Napoli
Meet the Beast — before there was Beauty
Orasmyn is the prince of Persia and heir to the throne. His religion fills his heart and his mind, and he strives for the knowledge and leadership his father demonstrates. But on the day of the Feast of Sacrifices, Orasmyn makes a foolish choice that results in a fairy’s wretched punishment: He is turned into a beast, a curse to be undone only by the love of a woman.
Thus begins Orasmyn’s journey through the exotic Middle East and sensuous France as he struggles to learn the way of the beast, while also preserving the mind of the man. This is the story of his search, not only for a woman courageous enough to love him, but also for his own redemption.
This is one of the rare books on my list that came without recommendation—it just sounded interesting. So many retellings of “Beauty and the Beast” focus on Beauty, but to see one that focuses on the Beast is downright refreshing.
Rhinoa at Rhinoa’s Ramblings liked the Persian setting but ultimately found it mediocre. Melissa at One Librarian’s Book Reviews liked it, even if she found some of Orasmyn’s life as a lion a little much.
Beast was published in 2000.
The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale
Anidori-Kiladra Talianna Isilee, Crown Princess of Kildenree, spends the first years of her life under her aunt’s guidance learning to communicate with animals. As she grows up Ani develops the skills of animal speech, but is never comfortable speaking with people, so when her silver-tongued lady-in-waiting leads a mutiny during Ani’s journey to be married in a foreign land, Ani is helpless and cannot persuade anyone to assist her. Becoming a goose girl for the king, Ani eventually uses her own special, nearly magical powers to find her way to her true destiny. Shannon Hale has woven an incredible, original and magical tale of a girl who must find her own unusual talents before she can become queen of the people she has made her own.
I’ve heard wonderful things; I have a feeling this might be one of the Nancy Pearl recommendations from three years ago, but I’ve had that recommendation affirmed.
The Goose Girl was published on November 3, 2003.