Fairy tale fans there’s an author you must know. Please say hello to Jennifer Wardell, writer of hilarious, romantic fairy tale reinventions. Her first book, “Fairy Godmother’s Inc.” is such a great read. For my review of it, CLICK HERE.
Now, her second book, BEAST CHARMING, has just hit shelves.
Beast Charming tells the story of Beauty, who works as a temp at an agency run by a high-tempered dragon. To avoid running into her conniving and desperately-craving-for-nobility father—conveniently named Noble—she takes on a peculiar job that will force her to converse with a violent beast named, well, Beast. The rest of the story develops into a hysterical tale of a classic fairy tale romance gone modernly awry.
I asked Jennifer to give us a list of some of her favorite fairy tale re-tellings. Check out her recommendations below . . .
Books are a writer’s greatest food.
My reading tastes are, unsurprisingly, very similar to my writing tastes – fantasy with a healthy dose of humor and a nice twist in there somewhere. I’ve always been particularly drawn to fairy tales, which are always full of so many possibilities for a playful author. For those who might have similar literary palates, here are some of my favorites:
1. “The Sleeping Beauty,” Mercedes Lackey
The story combines the titular fairy tale with the Norse myths found in Wagner’s “The Ring Cycle,” which also includes sleeping ladies, and generally makes everyone much more clever and sensible than they were in the original stories. If you’ve ever wanted to scream at the characters in fairy tales, this is the book for you.
This one is my absolute favorite of Lackey’s “500 Kingdoms” series, though they’re all wonderful and if you haven’t read them you need to do that now.
2. “The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents,” Terry Pratchett
Pretty much everyone ignores “The Pied Piper of Hamelin,” because the original story is full of plot holes and if you think about it too much it becomes extremely creepy. Pratchett, however, seemed to take it as a challenge, and filled in those plot holes with a wonderful story about enchanted animals, the nature of truth and identity, and what exactly “happily ever after” means. It’s funny instead of dark, filled with heroes of all shapes, sizes and species, and is chock full of the best quotes.
3. “Spindle’s End,” Robin McKinley
I actually love several of McKinley’s fairy tale books – her “Beauty” was a key part of my teenage years – but “Spindle’s End” is probably my favorite. It’s a wonderfully nuanced look at “Sleeping Beauty,” particularly those years where she was spirited off into the woods in an attempt to hide her from the curse, and explores aspects of the story I’ve never even thought about before. Besides, I’ve always been a sucker for less-traditional romantic subplots.
4. “Rumpelstiltskin’s Daughter,” Diane Stanley
Yes, this is technically a kid’s book, but it’s still the best version of Rumpelstiltskin I’ve ever read. Besides, why should we let something being a “kid’s” book stop us from enjoying it? If being a grownup means we have to do all that boring, hard stuff like paying bills and waiting in line at the DMV, we should be allowed to read whatever we want.
I may never actually write my own version of the fairy tale, no matter how much I’m tempted to, simply because I’m pretty sure I can’t top what Stanley does with it.