Fairy tales are still around for a reason. They provide us with excellent heroes and heroines, exciting adventure, mystical magic, dastardly villains and maybe a little romance. Plenty of teen fiction writers are up to the challenge of keeping the genre fresh, giving the traditional tale a tempting twist.
Everybody knows the story of Snow White, but you probably haven’t heard it like this before. R.C. Lewis’ Stitching Snow takes place on the planet Thanda, where the temperatures are always sub-zero. Princess Snow is missing, and the kingdom is near war. Essie, our heroine, is a programmer who controls seven loyal drones that work the local mines, and she’s about to get much closer to the war than she ever thought possible. When a ship crash lands near the mines, questions begin to pile up. Essie’s decisions could lead to peace or tragedy; and it may start with the decision to find her true home.
The twists continue as we head into the ever-popular Beauty and the Beast (a personal favorite). Our beauty in Rosamund Hodge’s Cruel Beauty is not your typical “Belle.” For one, Nyx’s father is far from a friend. Nyx has been betrothed to the evil lord Ignifex since birth, a bad bargain by the hands of her father. But she isn’t going down easily. Sure, she’ll marry him—with the goal of ultimately assassinating him. Cruel Beauty flips good and evil on its head. Nyx must kill her Beast in order to save her people, but what of her charming enemy’s secrets? The enchanted castle will claim another victim.
Fairy tales also give us wonderful creatures, even if they happen to have human-like qualities. Think you know about trolls? Think again. In Danielle L. Jensen’s Stolen Songbird, the strong-willed Cecile is kidnapped, brought under the mountains and sold to the troll king. To break the curse that a witch placed long ago, Cecile must marry the prince. When the wedding fails to break the curse, Cecile is stuck in their dreary world, but entranced by their knowledge and the prince’s treasonous plans. Magic and politics collide, and we get a new take on the monster beneath the mountain.
If you’re looking for a quick fix for your fairy tales, try Poisoned Apples: Poems for You, My Pretty by Christine Heppermann. This collection takes the fairy tales you know and puts them alongside the life of the modern teenage girl. Much like Grimm’s original tales, it may not be so happily ever after. However, each poignant poem looks at the beauty and the beast: how girls are taught to think about themselves. From funny to dead serious, these bite-sized tales are reminiscent of Laurie Halse Anderson and Ellen Hopkins.
Fairy tales are being rewritten over and over because we love them. There are plenty more literature remixes than listed here, offering dozens of stories from classic to science fiction. Take a fresh look at where your favorite princes and princess stand. Whether good or evil, the magic of the fairy tale has never been more charming.