This is a topic that has been floating around in my mind ever since I posted a Top Ten Tuesday topic a little while ago on fairytales I’d love to see retold more. I am a massive fan of fairytale retellings, and most retellings actually; all a book needs to do is hint at the fact that it’s a retelling and it’s an automatic add to my to-read list.
However that doesn’t mean I think all retellings are amazing, and that all I read are given five star ratings and should be read by everyone. Retellings, be they fairytale or not, aren’t for everyone, and there have even been a fair few fairytale retellings I haven’t enjoyed at all.
The Pros and Cons of Retellings
When it comes down to it I’m not 100% sure why I love retellings so much. It’s as hard to explain as it would be explaining why I love fantasy or sci-fi books so much. There’s no short answer and I could spend hours trying to put the words in order to properly describe why.
This is a big one for me, and likely the main reason. Every time I pick up a book that retells the story of Alice in Wonderland or Cinderella it brings back memories from my childhood of watching the Disney films with my sister, or reading the stories from an old and tattered copy of fairytales. The retellings aren’t all the same, but they do all have that common thread that brings back those memories in one way or another.
You can have a hundred retellings of Beauty and the Beast, and actually I think there are more Beauty and the Beast retellings out there than any other, but no two are the same. Some authors choose to stick closer to the original tale, Hunted by Meagan Spooner, whereas others use the story as a foundation to create something completely new, A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J Maas.
Nine times out of ten you know how retellings are going to end, especially if you’ve read the original story. Granted reading is as much about the whole book as it is the last few chapters, but I know there are people out there who likely don’t enjoy retellings because they like to be surprised be the end. When I picked up Heartless by Marissa Meyer, I knew even before starting the book how the story would end for Cath; not with a happily ever after.
The Lack of Options
There are so many retellings out there for Beauty and the Beast, and some of the other really popular fairytales, but there are so many other stories out there that have the potential to be retold. In the run up to the release of Flame in the Mist by Renee Ahdieh I spoke to more than a few people who said that one of the main reasons they were so excited for this book was because it was a Mulan retelling; a story that hadn’t been retold much before, if at all.
You can only read retellings of Beauty and the Beast so many times, no matter how unique the concept of each is, before you start getting a little bored.
Like I said earlier I am a massive fan of retellings, and it doesn’t matter what kind they are. Be they stories that expand more on the original, like The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller, or stories that use the original tales as a foundation for a completely unique story, like Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson series, I will read them all. However that doesn’t mean I’m blind to the cons, and just because a book is a retelling doesn’t mean I’m guaranteed to love it.
There are a fair few retellings out there I haven’t enjoyed; because of the plot, or the writing, or the characters. For me retellings are like fantasy books, I’m more likely to read them than other genres, but there needs to be more than a concept for me to enjoy the story.
Now Onto the Discussion Part of This Post:
Do you enjoy fairytales, or do you find yourself avoiding them more often than not? Why?
What pros and cons do you think there are when it comes to retellings? Do you agree with the ones I’ve discovered or not?
What retellings would you like to see more of?
Let me know in the comments below.