Once upon a tale as old as time…

It’s been another exciting week over here at Book Box Club HQ, partly because we are busy planning all of the special items that will go on your April boxes and partly because we went to see the film of the moment, Beauty and the Beast! I LOVED it! The songs, the costumes, the magic – it all took me back to my childhood and I have been humming ‘I want much more than this provincial life’ ever since!

Our April theme is Belles and Beasts and features an atmospheric retelling of our favourite fairytale and because we love nothing more than a fantasy retelling, we thought: ‘what better way to get in the mood than with a blog?’.

To get you prepped and ready for all of the beastly romance and enchanted castle fun that will fill our next box, we decided to have a little look at our shelves and reminisce about all of our favourite reworkings of some well-known stories. Whether it be a modern twist on Cinderella or a fantasy world Red Riding Hood. We would love to hear some recommendations from you guys too! Here are some of our favourites as elected during our alfresco fondue fuelled ‘business meeting’!

The Lunar Chronicles by Melissa Meyer

cinder.jpgWho has read these futuristic retellings of some of our most loved stories?  I have only gotten around to Cinder so far but, wow! A Cyborg Cinderella set in a plague-riddled, postapocalyptic New Bejjing. The premise had me sold and Cinder did not disappoint, she’s a feisty heroine that makes so many dubious choices that you can’t help but love her. If you are a fan of Firefly (which I am), Sailor Moon and Sci Fi/fairytale reworkings then this is the series for you! Can anyone out there confirm that the other books are just as good as the first?

spindle.jpg

Spindle’s End by Robin McKinley

This was one of my favourite reads back in my early teens and I now I’m thinking that it’s probably long overdue a reread! It’s a brilliantly magical retelling of sleeping beauty with a main character (Rosie) that is much more interesting than Disney’s Briar Rose ever could have been. The world building of the whole magical kingdom backdrop completely enchanted me and had some seriously Stardust-y vibes, which is never a bad thing! I’d really recommend this as a bit of cosy Sunday reading, I will certainly be getting my battered copy down from it’s dusty shelf!

Shadows on the Moon by Zoe Marriot

This Cinderella retelling is beautiful and perfect if you (like me) have a thing for books set shadows.jpgin a fantasy, version of ancient Japan (I also LOVE Across the Nightingale Floor). The story follows Sazume as her father is accused of treason again the Moonlit Lands and her whole world is stripped away from her. During this huge upheaval Sazume discovers she has a certain skill. She is a Shadow weaver and can glamour herself into anyone she wants by blurring the lines of illusion which comes in handy when you are on a mission for revenge. This book is poetic and some of the scenes have really stuck with me since, anyone who has read it will no doubt remember the horrific cherry blossom scene towards the beginning! Please drop me a line in the comments if you know what I’m on about.

A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. MaasACOTAR.jpg

I don’t know what you guys think about this being on a retelling list… I’m not really sure it counts especially seeing as ACOMAF bears no resemblance to Beauty and the Beast at all. Every online list I see about fairytales has this right at the top and, sure, Feyre is imprisoned in an enchanted castle by a mysterious cursed being and she does end up seeing ‘something there that wasn’t there before’ but for me that is where the similarities end. Tamlin and Feyre’s relationship is a really complex one which involves a lot of guilt and self-loathing from both sides and, as we know, is by no means the great romance of the story (sorry, slight spoiler). That doesn’t mean I am not a MASSIVE fan of this series though. Roll on May!

A Thousand Nights by E. K. Johnston
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If you’re looking for a pacy, romantic, rompish retelling of 1,001 Nights then you’ve come to the wrong place (check out The Wrath and the Dawn instead!), but I loved this lesser-praised, lyrical novel inspired by the same original. It’s poetic and unashamedly fairytale-ish and it completely whisked me away to a dark, beautifully drawn world with a brave, talented storyteller at the helm.

The unnamed narrator is on a mission to protect her sister from Lo-Melkhiin – a demonic ruler who is in search of a wife but ends up killing each woman that he considers. Knowing her lovely sister is a certain target, our protagonist steps in to take her place, fully expecting her own life to be taken. But she survives night after night, as Lo-Melkhiin is transfixed by her magical storytelling ability and slowly the secrets behind his own cruelty and past begin to come to light.

The Bloody Chamber and other stories by Angela Carter

Warning: this book will not be up everyone’s street. It is very very dark in a nightmarish, playing-on-your-mind-for-months-afterwards kind of way. It also contains a selection of bloodyshort stories, which I know a lot of you can’t stand. Kate and I LOVE these retellings, though and really felt like we couldn’t write a list without them. This collection contains familiar fairy tales and legends like “Little Red Riding Hood,” “Bluebeard,” “Puss in Boots,” and “Beauty and the Beast,” but like you have never read them before, they couldn’t be less like Disney.  Angela Carter’s style is perverse and gothic and lovers of the violent original Grimms versions of some of these tales will feel right at home here. Each tale is twisted into a symbolic reimagining with underlying themes about feminism, gender and truth. We’d love for you to read them and let us know what you think!

So that is it! Have you read any of these retellings? Tell us what you think of our selection in the comments below or please do recommend us some more!

And if you’re in the mood for some more fairytale action then remember you can still sign up for our April Belles and Beasts box (if you haven’t already). Be quick though because we only have a handful left. This box will include an amazing, gritty retelling of Beauty and the Beast with echoes of Sarah J Maas and Victoria Aveyard and will be a hot off the press YA hardback. As well as your monthly read, each box will be full of handcrafted items that centre around the Belles and Beasts theme and an invite to our exclusive book club in our members-only Clubhouse where you can chat about the book with each other and the author. We honestly can’t wait for that, our Clubhouse meetings are our favourite night of the month!

Have magical weekends everyone,

Love, Libby and Kate xx

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2 thoughts on “Once upon a tale as old as time…

  1. Okay, so… I have to disagree kinda with similarities bit between ACOTAR and beauty and a beast. The whole cursed thing is pretty similar, the curse was that Tamlin couldn’t find a human that loved him—one that willingly killed his kind. Hence why he sent all his wolfie friends into the human world to begin with. I really think that’s the biggest similarity.

    As for recs… I Honestly haven’t read all the retellings on my shelves, but I can recommend those I have.

    Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge — retelling of beauty and the beast. It’s kind of a hit and miss for some, but personally, I devoured this.

    The Witch’s Kiss by Katharine and Elizabeth Corr — genderbent retelling of Sleeping Beauty. Yet another one I really enjoyed. I got it in one of the first bookboxes I ever bought, and I just loved it. The fact that Sleeping Beauty was a guy, was just a bonus.

    Also, I absolutely LOVED the lunar Chronicles, and in particular “Fairest”, it’s a sort of Novella/prequel that tells the story of Queen Levana. It blew my mind.

    And finally, it probably won’t come as a surprise, but I have a ton of unread retellings as well. I went through almost every list of retellings and bulk bought most of them. It’s everything som fairytales, to classic, to myth retellings (especially the Hades/Persephone myth seems to be popular)

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  2. Oooo thanks for the reply Maja. I guess with ACOTAR it does start out similar (I’d forgotten the actual terms of the curse!) then it spirals into something completely different!

    Thanks so much for the recommendations. I knew you’d have loads! Witches Kiss looks amazing, I will definitely be purchasing a copy and I’ve seen Cruel Beauty all over the place but never actually read a synopsis!

    Can’t wait to chat on Wednesday, will we see you there?
    Libby x

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