I don’t really have any clear memories of reading fairytales as a child. I still have a book of fairytales that I’ve had ever since I can remember, and I do remember sitting in my room reading it as a kid (or looking at the pictures anyway) but properly reading wasn’t what I did, there were so many words in it and I got bored. I would instead sit marvelling at the pictures and remember how much I loved one story or another. I think, like every other girl in the western world, it was Disney which began my love for fairytales. I remember watching films like Sleeping Beauty and Beauty and the Beast and being enchanted by those worlds. I wanted to be a princess and find my prince charming, gaining friends and having adventures. I wanted to believe there was magic and no matter how terrible things may seem there was always a happy ending to come.
I know these films didn’t really promote the best attitudes in life for me, the idea of being a princess and waiting for my princess charming to get my happily ever after, but they were wonderful and magical and I didn’t really care at the time. I didn’t know any better and
That is where I fell in love with fairytales, but then when I became a teenager I fell out of love with them. These perfect worlds where girls were rescued by one person or another and were waiting for their prince, they stopped being something that inspired me. fairytales, but adapted to suit more modern values. But that didn’t come straight away and the fact of the matter is once you reach a certain age it just isn’t cool to like Disney with the magic and the musical numbers. I got over that by the time I was sixteen, but when I began secondary school I just couldn’t embrace the Disney loving.
I ventured off into other genres, watched other films, read different books and grew up a bit. I read a lot of romance when I was at university, because really Disney influenced me way more than I thought, and also romance always has a happy ending, and that’s what gave me the warm and fuzzies in Disney films, so what did you expect? In those romance novels there is always a guy and a girl and some issues and then they end up together with a happily ever after. Then that started to bore me, because we all know what happens when you binge too much on one genre, you get fed up and cynical of it, so I was on a path to find something new.
I rediscovered the YA genre, which could offer me romance, without the sickly sweetness, and it also offered me some action that had been sorely lacking from the books I’d been reading. I then discovered book like Abandon by Meg Cabot and The Goddess Test by Aimee Carter, which are a retellings of a Greek myth, and I began reading YA books in earnest, not realising I was going to become totally obsessed with the genre.
I think it was probably Throne of Glass which is the first fairytale retelling I read, and even then I was not aware it was any kind of fairy tale retelling, because it is an amalgamation of different fairy tales and is so much it’s own story that I could not be expected to recognise the beginnings. I was not quick to read stories like Cinder and the Lunar Chronicles, because I was till wary of retellings, because I have seen them go wrong. When I finally committed, though, it was love and I cannot believe I did not embrace them sooner. Then, slowly, retellings have become a thing, I think they were always a thing. After all, the Disney versions of fairytales are nothing like the stories they claim their origins from. Happy endings were not always a thing that happened in these stories and they certainly weren’t all that light and fluffy. I love that retellings can completely reinterpret what we think we know about a fairytale and turn it on its head, it’s just so fascinating, I think that’s why I love them really.
But, anyway, I slowly came to embrace retellings of all kinds and am now committing to the fairytale retelling reading challenge for the year, which is made all the more challenging by finding the best books to read in the genre (is it a genre?) and also committing to buying or lending them.