Fractured Fairy Tales | Fantasy Novels That Recast Old Fables

A beguiling prince vanishes and Sleeping Beauty’s fairy godmother takes center stage in these mixed-up tales.

A beguiling prince vanishes and Sleeping Beauty’s fairy godmother takes center-stage in these mixed-up tales.

Kingfisher, T. Thornhedge. Tor. Aug. 2023. 128p. ISBN 9781250244093. $19.99. FANTASY

Why was Sleeping Beauty trapped so thoroughly in her castle? That’s the question asked in Kingfisher’s (Nettle & Bone) inside-out version of the classic fairy tale, told through the eyes of Toadling, the almost-fairy with the too-kindly heart trapped by a spell gone wrong. She isn’t the princess, although she might have been. Toadling is the fairy “godmother” tasked with keeping a changeling “princess” from doing any more harm than she already has. When a kindly would-be knight finally arrives to solve the mystery, Toadling has to decide whether to trust in his seeming goodness or maintain the protections that have trapped her every bit as much as the beautiful but deadly princess within. This marvelously fractured fairy tale takes a well-known and well-loved story and turns it completely around, into a story about love not being enough, duty not being sufficient, and love and joy being found in the unlikeliest of people and places. VERDICT Highly recommended for anyone who loves to see fables fractured into new and different shapes, similar to Alix E. Harrow’s A Spindle Splintered.—Marlene Harris

Linwood, Jade. Charming. Solaris. Jul. 2023. 336p. ISBN 9781786188465. pap. $16.99. FANTASY

Jean-Marc Charming Arundel is everything a prince should be: handsome, charismatic, and skilled with swords and saving kingdoms. His bravery earns praise and the hand of the beautiful lady of the land, but his true motives are revealed when he is gone the next morning. Left behind are an empty treasury and broken hearts. When three of his victims—Marie Blanche de Neige, Bella Lucia dei’ Sogni, and Doctor Emilia Rapunzel—meet by chance, they discover the depths of his artifice. Now Prince Charming will face the wrath of women scorned—and their plans for revenge. Minor characters such as dwarves, fairies, and donkeys are given stronger roles to support the leads and create a more robust backstory. The twists in the plot pay respect to the original tales, while creating three-dimensional characters with their own desires. VERDICT A delightfully twisted mash-up of fairy tales, filled with amusing dialogue and unusual character variations. Fans of Alix E. Harrow’s “Fractured Fables” series or Kevin Hearne and Delilah S. Dawson’s “The Tales of Pell” series will enjoy this story from Linwood (who wrote Bad Gods under the name Gaie Sebold).—Kristi Chadwick

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