All posts filed under: Fairytales & Folklore

Beauty and the Beast by Marianna Mayer

Beauty and the Beast by Marianna Mayer, illustrations by Mercer Mayer I’ve saved the best for last. This is the book made me fall in love with fairy tales. Mayer uses richly detailed paintings to illustrate this classic story of Beauty and the Beast, setting it somewhere in the medieval era. Mayer depicts the Beast’s strange and magnificent castle by including elements of Egyptian and Art Nouveau influences. Mayer is a master at hair. It’s one of the little things that I love about this book from Belle’s father’s beard to the fur on the Beast’s cloak, and every single illustration that features Beauty close-up. Her hair is gorgeously done with the individual strands that are first lined and then filled in… it just looks so realistic. It’s beautiful. Also, Beauty is a bibliophile and when she’s sitting in the tower, book in hand, so regal in her natural grace, posture and yes, her stunning jewelry, well, I just wanted to be her. Speaking of jewelry, I love the butterfly wing coronet in one scene, …

Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge (Cruel Beauty Universe)

Graceling meets Beauty and the Beast in this sweeping fantasy about one girl’s journey to fulfill her destiny and the monster who gets in her way-by stealing her heart. Based on the classic fairy tale Beauty and the Beast, Cruel Beauty is a dazzling love story about our deepest desires and their power to change our destiny. Since birth, Nyx has been betrothed to the evil ruler of her kingdom-all because of a foolish bargain struck by her father. And since birth, she has been in training to kill him. With no choice but to fulfill her duty, Nyx resents her family for never trying to save her and hates herself for wanting to escape her fate. Still, on her seventeenth birthday, Nyx abandons everything she’s ever known to marry the all-powerful, immortal Ignifex. Her plan? Seduce him, destroy his enchanted castle, and break the nine-hundred-year-old curse he put on her people. But Ignifex is not at all what Nyx expected. The strangely charming lord beguiles her, and his castle-a shifting maze of magical rooms-enthralls …

King Midas and the Golden Touch by Charlotte Craft

King Midas and the Golden Touch, as told by Charlotte Craft, illustrated by K.Y. Craft (Morrow Junior Books) I’ve always liked the story of King Midas which began as a Greek myth about a king who in his quest for gold, stands to lose everything he truly loves. What really stands out for me about this particular rendition are the beautifully detailed illustrations by Craft of a king in all his glory, and the apple of his eye, his daughter Aurelia. I wish I knew why dogs played such a role in the background of Craft’s illustrations though. Just like in Sleeping Beauty, here too the castle is filled with canine companions which humanizes these graceful servants and royal occupants. What makes King Midas an interesting figure compared to other fairy tale characters who falter – whether by greed or naiveté (ex: The Goose Girl), is that he pursues his own redemption. He isn’t condemned to his fate and he isn’t rescued from the outside. While you can argue that the legend of King Midas …

The Twelve Dancing Princesses by Ruth Sanderson

Set in the 15th c., costumes and knowledge about period dancing provided by Nan Hurlburt. One major change that I liked about this version is the disappearance of each of the princes who tries to discover where the 12 girls are going to.  In some other stories I’ve read, the punishment for failure is death. I also like the introduction of Michael as the garden boy to Lina, the youngest of the sisters.  In some versions, the hero is represented as a hardened soldier, a bit older, and is matched to the eldest girl.  In this one, there is an appropriate similarity in ages between the potential match that is a modern update, but welcome. The cause of the enchantment of the princes (without spoiling it) is one hat I haven’t seen before, and quite unexpected.  I don’t quite understand the conditions of the spell that is cast but since it is just a fairy tale, perhaps we don’t need to. The princesses’ costumes are of course, glorious in golds, greens, and blues, some with …

Entwined by Heather Dixon

Come and mend your broken hearts here. Just when Azalea should feel that everything is before her — beautiful gowns, dashing suitors, balls filled with dancing — it’s taken away. All of it. And Azalea is trapped. The Keeper understands. He’s trapped, too, held for centuries within the walls of the palace. So he extends an invitation. Every night, Azalea and her eleven sisters may step through the enchanted passage in their room to dance in his silver forest, but there is a cost. The Keeper likes to keep things. Azalea may not realize how tangled she is in his web until it is too late. (GoodReads description) The Specs ISBN: 0062001035 , hd, 472pp, 2011 by GreenWillow Books, YA, Fairy Tale Retelling, Romance There is so much humor in this book, I love it.  This is one of my favorite moments, near the beginning of the book (so not spoiling anything): “[…] Azalea looked down to see a pudgy little hand reaching out from beneath the tree, grabbing at his trouser ankle. Azalea cringed. “Not …

The Princess Curse by Merrie Haskell

“Merrie Haskell’s middle-grade fantasy novel Princess Curse is an imaginative retelling of the fairy tales The Twelve Dancing Princesses and Beauty and the Beast. In the fifteenth-century kingdom of Sylvania, the prince offers a fabulous reward to anyone who cures the curse that forces the princesses to spend each night dancing to the point of exhaustion. Everyone who tries disappears or falls into an enchanted sleep. Thirteen-year-old Reveka, a smart, courageous herbalist’s apprentice, decides to attempt to break the curse despite the danger. Unravelling the mystery behind the curse leads Reveka to the Underworld, and to save the princesses, Reveka will have to risk her soul. Princess Curse combines magic, suspense, humor, and adventure into a story perfect for fans of Gail Carson Levine.” (Goodreads review)   Before I launch into my thoughts about this book, I just want to take a moment and say that I hope I get to meet Merrie Haskell someday. We both wrote our first stories at the age of seven, we both got BAs in anthropology (mine cultural, hers …

Two Versions of Sleeping Beauty!

Sleeping Beauty, retold by Mahlon F. Craft, illustrated by Kinuko Y. Craft (SeaStar Books) This is a gorgeous illustrated version of Sleeping Beauty.  One of the unique features about this version are the illustrated letters beginning the text on each page.  I also love how the fairies are depicted. The good fairies are ethereal beings, non-corporeal, with a glow about them, as if they’re gods. The evil fairy has a wizened face and hands emerging from a smoke monster inferno of black birds. Pretty gosh darn scary. The time period feels very Renaissance with glorious pearl detailing and rich brocade fabrics and translucent overlays on the dresses, suggesting maybe silk or organza. What surprised me the most about this version was the depiction of the youngest fairy sister.  The twelfth fairy arrives on a fiery chariot drawn by dragons, too late to stop the curse, but able to console the king and queen and put the realm to sleep. I’ll repeat in case you were scanning and missed that bit. A CHARIOT OF FIRE DRAWN BY DRAGONS That …