If You Like….

Since we missed our regularly scheduled If You Like this morning, here’s a make-up If You Like, inspired by Kate Forsyth’s Bitter Greens.

If you like books based on fairy tales, you’ll probably like….

— Kate Forsyth’s Bitter Greens, a tale set in 17th century France and 16th century Italy, woven around the story of Rapunzel. I am currently very much in love with this book, which brings both those eras to life beautifully. (I’ve also heard wonderful things about her The Wild Girl, but haven’t read it yet.)

— Robin McKinley’s Beauty, a re-telling of Beauty and the Beast (I could practically recite the first chapter of this book word for word in Middle School). She took a second stab at Beauty and the Beast with her book Rose Daughter. (She also took on Sleeping Beauty with Spindle’s End, Donkeyskin with Deerskin, and the Twelve Dancing Princesses in The Door in the Hedge).

— Pamela Dean’s Tam Lin, another of my all time favorite books, which transports the story of Tam Lin to a college campus (a thinly veiled version of Carleton) in the 1960s. It’s one of those books that makes you remember the joy of learning, and those wonderful college days where everything is woven through with Shakespeare and Milton and whatever else you’ve been studying. With, of course, a touch of faerie.

— Patricia C. Wrede’s Snow White and Rose Red, an Elizabethan version of Snow White and Rose Red.

— Eloisa James’s fairy tale romances: When Beauty Tamed the Beast (Beauty and the Beast), A Kiss at Midnight (Cinderella), The Ugly Duchess (the Ugly Duckling), The Duke Is Mine (the Princess and the Pea), and Once Upon a Tower (Rapunzel).

— Kate Holmes’s The Wild Swans. I read this one a while ago, but I remember a) being impressed that she managed to pull off a romance where the heroine isn’t allowed to speak for most of the book, and b) thinking that the hero was particularly Miles-esque.

What are your favorite novels based on fairy tales?


  1. Kristen Allen-Vogel on January 30, 2014 at 1:13 pm

    I just finished reading an ARC of While Beauty Slept by Elizabeth Blackwell, a Sleeping Beauty retelling coming out on Feb. 20th.

  2. Christine on January 30, 2014 at 1:41 pm

    Entwined by Heather Dixon. I LOVED the Faerie Tale Theatre version of The Dancing Princesses (and the whole series is on Hulu!)when I was a kid, so I jumped at this book. Definitely darker than the versions I’m used to, but very good.

  3. Pam on January 30, 2014 at 2:02 pm

    The Bloody Chamber by Angela Carter, hands down one of my favorite books of all time. She re-works classic fairy tales and gives them an incredibly dark, modern-yet-timeless sensibility. So amazing!

  4. Cate on January 30, 2014 at 2:04 pm

    Diana Wynne Jones’, Fire in Stubble is another take on Tam Lin, it’s a complete page turner.

    • Lynn on January 31, 2014 at 3:34 pm


      Did you mean Fire and Hemlock? That is an excellent version of Tam Lin. I also loved Elizabeth Marie Pope’s The Perilous Gard.

  5. Leigh on January 30, 2014 at 2:08 pm

    I just finished “Entreat Me” by Grace Draven, a retelling of Beauty and the Beast which was spectacular.

    I also recently enjoyed”Sold for Endless Rue” by Madeline E. Robins. It was beautifully written, if only vaguely based on Rapunzel.

  6. Ami on January 30, 2014 at 2:19 pm

    Mercedes Lackey has a ton of faerie tale mashups in her Five Hundred Kingdoms series. They vary in how good they are, but they’re all very interesting and some are fantastic!

  7. Ella on January 30, 2014 at 3:41 pm

    Haven’t ready any, but now I have a nice long list!

  8. Ellen Sheffer on January 30, 2014 at 5:05 pm

    Mercedes Lackey’s Elemental Masters series is also a reworking of fairy tales. Also a mixed bag, the early ones are excellent but some of the later ones not so much.

  9. Elizabeth Lefebvre on January 30, 2014 at 6:22 pm

    Shannon Hale! Goose Girl based on the story of the same name by the Brothers Grimm and A Book of A Thousand Days based on Maid Maleen. Both AWESOME!

  10. Gina on January 30, 2014 at 8:13 pm

    This is a great list! Looking forward to Bitter Greens in particular.

    It isn’t quite fairy tale, but Robin McKinley’s Sunshine is also really, really good. Different take on vampires and their myths that was fantastic to read.

  11. Betty S. on January 30, 2014 at 9:20 pm

    Love this list! I have copied so many titles and authors from it. Robin McKinley’s Beauty is awesome, and I guide my 5th grade girls who are advanced readers to it.

    Not exactly fairy tales, but I would recommend Robin Maxwell’s O, Juliet as a wonderful redoing of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. Also, Rosalind Miles has an excellent Guinivere series as well as a Tristan and Isolde series.

    Another YA fantasy/fairy tale is Tuck Everlasting.

    Can’t wait to try some of the books mentioned!

  12. Sharlene Moore on January 30, 2014 at 11:15 pm

    I have read all of the Eloisa James ones and loved them all.

  13. jeffrey on January 31, 2014 at 11:04 am

    I likewise have read a few of Eloisa James’s books and truly appreciate her story-telling mastery.

  14. hilly on February 1, 2014 at 9:39 am

    Love this post!

    Laura Florand’s books incorporate many Fairy Tale storylines — often multiples within the same work, with varying degrees of success. (Always a fan of her language & imagery, though, even when the fairytale themes are incoherent.)

    Thanks for all the recommendations, everyone!

  15. Kristy on February 3, 2014 at 4:01 pm

    Sometimes I find wonderful new books here, and sometimes I swear people have lifted the titles of the books from my bookshelves! Tam Lin by Pamela Dean is a gem I rarely hear people mention, and I reread it on a regular basis when I want to know why education in the classics still matters. And The Perilous Guard is a wonderful old/new book for me that once read, I had to own. Beauty stands on its own for perfection. What about Robin McKinley’s Outlaws of Sherwood Forest? Predates Kevin Costner’s take on a less-than adept Robin Hood by a good margin and is a great story. Bravo, All!

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