Book List

6 International Fairy Tale Retellings

March 23, 2017
Gabriella Abbate
Riveted Editorial Board

Everyone knows the standard Disney fairy tales, you may even know the more violent collection from the Brother’s Grimm, but there are thousands upon thousands of fairy tales from all around the world. Each culture has a Cinderella-esque tale, with different moral lessons and cultural signifiers ingrained into it. Below is a list of retellings of fairy tales you may have never heard of—and you should check out both the retelling AND the original! 

Hushby Donna Jo Napoli

Hush is based on an Icelandic saga called the Laxdæla, which depicts the story of Melkorka, an Irish princess. Hush acts as a prequel to the saga. And guess what? You can read it free here, but only until March 27!

Vassa in the Nightby Sarah Porter

Vassa in the Night is inspired by the beloved Russian fairy tale, “Vasilisa the Beautiful” where Vasilisa is sent to the hut of Baba Yaga, a famous witch of slavic folktale, by her evil stepmother. (Fun fact, my cat’s name is Vasa after another Russian fairy tale, “The Firebird and Princess Vasilisa,” and she’s quite the princess.)

The Great Huntby Wendy Higgins

We all know popular Grimm’s fairy tales like Cinderella and Snow White, but have you heard of The Singing Bone? In The Great Hunt, Wendy Higgins retells the Grimm’s story of two brothers who set out to kill a boar who is attacking their city.

A Thousand Nightsby E. K. Johnston

One Thousand and One Nights, also known as The Arabian Nights, is a collection of Middle Eastern and South Asian stories with the frame story of a young woman who marries a king who has killed all his wives before her, and she tells him a story every night to keep herself alive. A Thousand Nights focuses on the story of the wife who must keep herself alive, rather than the stories she tells to do so, and portrays an incredibly strong and feminist main character.  

Iceby Sarah Beth Durst

Ice is a retelling of the Norwegian fairy tale “East of the Sun and West of the Moon” and is classified by fairy tale scholars as the tale of “the search of the lost husband.”

Strands of Bronze and Goldby Jane Nickerson

Strands of Bronze and Gold is a retelling of the French tale “Bluebeard,” written by Charles Perrault (my favorite fairy tale writer). “Bluebeard” is the story of wealthy man who has secretly been murdering his wives, and the one woman who tries to escape his violent ways.

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