ON THE SAME PAGE: FAIRYTALES FOR WILDE GIRLS
Darker Fairy Tales
April’s choice for our On the Same Page read was Fairytales for Wilde Girls by Allyse Near. It’s an Australian-born book but I was so lucky to have received it for Christmas from my dear friend Amy (Tripping Over Books) and we had heard such good things about it that we decided to make it our April pick.
Don’t let “fairytales” fool you — there’s plenty beneath the surface of this book. It’s actually described as “bubblegum gothic” so if that sounds like something that’s appealing to you, I can tell you not to hesitate to pick this one up! It’s a giant ball of fairy tale, fantasy, contemporary, and magical realism all rolled into one but the fantasies and fairy tales aren’t for the faint of heart. Things get a little dark. Things get a little twisty. Things get a little horrific. And I loved the darkness of it.
So many people grow up on the milder fairy tales. Heck, we all love Disney (I surely will never deny that) but Disney adapted many fairy tales to show the softer side — the kid friendly side — and many of the adaptations out there don’t know the “true” nature of these stories. I mean, have you read a true, unaltered story from The Brothers Grimm? I was actually reading up on some original versions of fairy tales and found this article from The History Channel, actually, called The Dark Side of the Grimm Fairy Tales and Stylist Magazine details their choices for The Eight Darkest Fairy Tales which give you a little insight on the gory, gritty details of some of the originals. There are many, many things that have been cut out for the sake of protecting our ears and our minds! Fairy tales were not always for children. (Or maybe they were for scaring kids… Either way.)
I loved that Fairytales for Wilde Girls appealed to both the childhood nostalgia of fairy tales as well as a twist on what those tales actually were. It’s a story for the older crowds and yet still maintains that tug on the heartstrings of the child in us all. In honor of the darker side of these childhood-favorite stories, I’m sharing some of my own personal favorites as well as other darker and more sinister fairy tales for you to check out:
Still kid-friendly, Jon Scieszka has a couple of fairy tales modified to show a slightly darker side but still incorporate a lot of humor and not scare the kids too much. The True Story of the Three Little Pigs and The Stinky Cheese Man are two that I remember hearing as a kid that were fun, but didn’t always have a happy ending.
Gregory Maguire is obviously a popular one and actually, the broadway adaptation of Wicked and Gregory Maguire’s originally version is kind of a perfect example. The broadway show is one of my favorites. I love the pieces of music and I loved the retelling as adapted by Stephen Schwartz (you know… musicals will pretty much always reel me in) so I decided to actually try and read the book the musical was based off of. It was actually a LOT darker and more twisted than I had expected so it really took me by surprise (and oops, not in a good way) but if you’re looking for twisty retellings, Gregory MaGuire’s books are sure to shock you!
Speaking of The Wizard of Oz… Although the Return to Oz I’m referring to is the movie and not the book, it’s still kind of a twisty and darker adaptation that I know I’ve had discussions about before and my fellow Return To Oz-watchers kind of couldn’t believe we watched this movie as kids. Some parts are pretty terrifying and kind of disturbing even as an adult! Still kind of awesome, though.
I actually haven’t read them yet, but Adam Gidwitz’s A Tale Dark & Grim books seem like perfect additions to this list! I got book one signed last year from BEA and I’m definitely looking forward to picking it up sometime. They’re middle grade books so although they’re darker, they’re also designed to not be too horrific so a bit younger of an audience can enjoy them as well.
Neil Gaiman: Now I’m a Neil Gaiman novice having only read The Graveyard Book and Stardust, but I feel like his writing fits perfectly in with this general theme. The Graveyard Book was definitely the darker of the two (which is almost amusing considering that was the one for a younger audience) but Stardust had more of the fairy tale feeling. (I would consider The Graveyard Book to be more straight-up paranormal-type.) I actually saw the movie for Coraline and still haven’t read the book yet but that definitely gives off the same vibe as well! I’m hoping to pick up Neverwhere soon because Alyssa has told me great things about it and I’d really like to make that one of my next Gaiman reads!
And of course, the book we came here to talk about today — Fairytales for Wilde Girls. It’s definitely one of the more original books I’ve read and it combines so many wonderful elements to make one great story. I really got to know all of the characters, the setting, the plot — everything really just clicked and so the horrifying parts felt even more real and the personal relationships did as well. Sometimes it’s hard for me to get into things like magical realism or certain fantasy aspects but Fairytales for Wilde Girls just drew me in and I was mostly able to just lose myself in this book!
I know I’m missing SO many because there are just so many more darker or “true” fairy tales that I have to read. There’s still some collection of “true” fairy tales that I used to own as a kid that for the life of me I can never find, but I know it exists out there somewhere! Which ones are you favorites? I’d love to hear your suggestions!
Don’t forget to check out Alyssa’s and Amy’s posts for Fairytales for Wilde Girls today too!