Retellings: When is Enough, Enough? Or There's Never Enough!

September 5, 2013 Discussion 29

The Classic fairy tale, she’s the girl at the party that everyone wants to dance with. And hey – who doesn’t like dancing with a pretty girl? *wink*

Fairytale 1

I’m sure many of you love retellings of classic fairy tales. I know I’m definitely among one of them. But when is enough, enough? Or hey, do you feel you’ll ever reach that threshold? I know some friends who can’t seem to get enough and it’s one of their favorite types of books to read.

I’m not personally saying to stop writing these retellings by any means. There have been some excellent ones! My favorites namely being Wicked and Cinder.

But what about the trend dumping that we seem to get from publishers? Not just one or two retellings but we are quite literally bombarded with them. Would it really make the story all that different if the author used an original name? An unrecognizable setting? No hints dropped that this is a ‘retelling’? How much of a difference would it make to you as a reader, if any? Do you think or feel the book would do better or worse?

fairytale 2

Essentially, I almost feel as if that by trussing these books up as retellings, even if that is what they are, could cause them to not get the light they could have otherwise. But then I’m feeling so contrary that I could think the complete opposite as well.

So, hey other forms of entertainment do it as well. Now when it comes to movies…I don’t know about you but I’m tired of all the Spider man and Batman reboots. Pick a new super hero already gosh damnit.

This was all brought on because I read a short piece in the Shelf Awareness newsletter today about the Wizard of Oz having 3 different shows in the works for 3 different tv channels. You can read about it in the below link. (near the bottom of that newsletter).

Inspiration for this post taken from Shelf Awareness: TV: Battle of the Network Wizards of Oz

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Tabitha (Pabkins)

When I'm in the zone I can flip book pages faster than the eye can see - screaming "More Input!" I'm a book, yarn, & art supply hoarding goblin who loves to draw, make toys and craft all sorts of creepy cute things. My current habit is to listen to audio books while I'm arting it up!
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29 Responses to “Retellings: When is Enough, Enough? Or There's Never Enough!”

    • Tabitha the Pabkins

      I completely agree with you. I compare them as well! Though admitted I don’t read all of the retellings that I see come out. Only the ones that sound REALLY unique.

  1. Cait D

    I would totally go for some new superhero movies too. 😉 I love Batman and Superman to death, but really? There are (literally) thousands of superheroes. Give them some limelight!
    Great post, too. I, for one, am a huge fan of fairy-tale retellings. I love it when they’re twisted in a sci-fi way (I just feel like it’s more creative or something…!) But, as with the superheroes, I think it’d be cooler if the books were of different and more obscure fairy tales instead of Cinderella and Little Red Riding Hood over and over again. (That saying, I loooove CINDER by Marissa Meyer!)
    Cait D recently posted…Waiting on Wednesday: 3:59My Profile

    • Tabitha the Pabkins

      YES! I would love to read about some obscure fairytales! Wouldn’t it be nice if the book included a forward with the original fairytale?

      I also loved the Lunar Chronicles books. I don’t read as many retellings as I know some friends do – I am pretty choosey as well. It has to sound really unique for me to start getting excited to read it.

  2. Aleksandra

    I actually don’t think I’ll ever get enough of bookish fairy tale retellings, but it’s quite rare when they’re quite extraordinary & memorable, at least for me, and I do tend to compare them, just like Lizzy said.
    As for being bombarded by publishers or movies or even tv adaptations, I always get annoyed when that happens, and often I found myself rolling my eyes with every new announcement, no matter the genre we’re bombarded with. As you said, enough is enough, I mean I love sci-fi, but stop with those superhero movies, because in 10 movies, only one or two would be worth my time. The same goes with all the fairy tale retellings, both on tv & as movies. I’ve always loved them: The 10th Kingdom, The Brothers Grimm & a few others are still some of my top favs, but most of the newer ones just aren’t on that level of goodness, I guess it’s more about quantity than quality now, so yeah, I’d rather have one amazing piece of work in 5 years, than lots of average ones, or just bad.

    By the way, Cinder & Scarlet were so amazing, I can’t wait for Cress!
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    • Tabitha the Pabkins

      They will always be redone over and over again. At least there are a few diamonds in the rough. I just think they almost do themselves a disservice by making their stories into a retelling instead of putting a more original twist on things. There are a few lately that have been done well. All of the ones I listed in the graphics are ones that I feel are worth giving a read or ones that I have read.

      I LOVED The 10th Kingdom – I know its corny but I thought it was so adorable! I really liked the recent Alice that was redone as a TV miniseries as well. I do enjoy the Grimm tv show that is currently on but I couldn’t get into that other one…Once Upon a Time or something like that.

      If done well these shows and books can be so marvelous. So I will of course continue to read and watch the ones that look awesome.

  3. Rachel

    First off, lovely article.

    Second, I enjoy checking out retellings just to see how the author portrays the characters and interprets the story. Lets face it we all grew up watching retellings from Disney; because those stories certainly weren’t how the fairytales were originally written (and oh how my childhood shattered with that little bit of knowledge..lol). The problem comes in when these companies just want to flood the market because its ‘in’ right now. There really is no need for 3 channels to air a Wizard of Oz spin-off, did they forget that there are other fairytales out there? But on the flipside Once Upon a Time has been brilliant and is getting a spinoff based on Alice in Wonderland that looks promising. I think what these big companies keep forgetting is that while the public wants a certain type of show or book we also want to be entertained; which is why I personally think all those ‘reality TV’ shows are so popular. While the ‘reality’ may be questionable they are entertaining, to a degree.

    And as for the superhero movies, I really shouldn’t get started. As a long-time comic reader it pretty much hurts to watch any movie based on comic-book characters. The X-men movies pretty much sent me into cardiac arrest, even if Hugh Jackman was hot as hell. Forget Batman, they can’t seem to find anyone that can play both Bruce Wayne and Batman, it’s borderline pathetic. Same for Spiderman, though the last movie was passing fair for using a new villian. Yet the new Superman movie was simply stunning, both visually and storyline; I was pleasantly surprised with how much I enjoyed it. I also enjoyed the Avengers; but I think that was because they were using new characters, Hawkeye and Black Widow and of course the fight scenes were amazing, I love things getting blown up.

    • Tabitha the Pabkins

      I know can you believe it…3 Wizard of Oz shows in the works. You’d think that maybe they might not all come to pass because they will be in direct competition with each other. I wasn’t able to get into Once Upon a Time – I think I watched just the first season and maybe not even all of it.

      The only reality TV I like is that makeup artist competition one called FACEOFF on the SyFy channel.

      I really love the comic book movies that they are making but I don’t like all of the remakes. I mean come on – pick a new hero!! I can’t speak to the new Superman movie because I haven’t watched it yet because when it came out I was really just fed up at that point. I’ll watch it on netflix sooner or later. So hopefully I’ll be surprised like you and really love it.

      Avengers just…rules. I love it. I haven’t watched the new Ironman yet. Have you read any good retellings lately?

      • Rachel

        I’ve read Wicked by Gregory Maguire, which I loved, but couldn’t get into the second book or any of his others for some reason. They just didn’t have the same feel for me. Also read the first three books in the Five Hundred kingdoms by Mercedes Lackey, they were very fun. The Looking Glass Wars by Frank Beddor were interesting.

        I’ve also picked up to read Her Mad Hatter by Marie Hall, Cinder by Marissa Meyer and a couple others. Also if you like comics definitely check out Fables from DC’s Vertigo Comics and Grimm Fairy Tales from Zenescope, both are really good, though the Grimm Fairy Tales is starting to slack off as they are trying to concentrate on a plot involving the main character instead of 1-2 shots involving a fairy tale and its morale. The early stuff was amazing.

        • Tabitha the Pabkins

          I couldn’t get into the one I tried either. Admittedly I never even bothered to try to read the ones after Wicked because I was satisfied that it was ending enough for me. I did pick up Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister and was going to try that someday.

          I will have to try Five Hundred Kingdoms. I do have quite a few issues of the Fables the first few. I think I might have an issue of Grimm Fairy Tales. I think that is how it goes for any kind of series, whether its fiction or comics they just teeter out after awhile. They should end them while they are ahead. Just how fresh can you keep something that has been running for 10 books or issues you know?

  4. Anya

    *snorts* .>). I actually hadn’t really discovered retellings until Cinder, and now I kind of like them since I don’t actually know the traditional stories all that well, so it’s fun to guess what is inspired from the Grimm tale and what is new 😉 Of the ones listed, I’ve only read Lunar Chronicles though, so I guess I haven’t burned myself out yet 😀
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    • Tabitha the Pabkins

      I’m not burned out yet either lol. I just thought it would be a good discussion since I’ve seen SOOO many retellings lately and then poom I saw the whole 3 OZ shows being developed by 3 different channels and I was like woooah overload much.

      Cinder is amazing! Did you request a copy of Cress from Macmillan? The ones currently floating around are the limited run editions that were made just for ALA and SDCC. So don’t worry there is another batch that will be shipped out soon I hear. I’m fine waiting til that run since it might have had changes made to it since the first limited galley run.

  5. [email protected]

    I don’t mind the retellings but it has to done right. I am very picky even more so lately with books. I adore the marissa Meyer series , and have read some Jackson Pearce retellings. I think it has done with some updates , but also done right.
    by the way : Cress is amazing & loved Scarlett . I still need to read Stacey Jay’s book.
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    • Tabitha the Pabkins

      Haha that is the umpteeen millionth time you’ve told me how amazing Cress is!! LOL I might have to come over and steal your brain so I know for myself. But hopefully I’ll be getting an ARC soon, hope hope hope!

      Stacey’s book sounds really awesome. I can’t wait to see what we both think about it! Have you ever read The Looking Glass Wars trilogy? If you haven’t you will love it!

    • Tabitha the Pabkins

      They can be really great! Indeed just writing this post made me excited to read a few more retellings that I had been eyeballing. I’m excited to try Of Beast and Beauty, Fathomless, Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister, etc – a lot of the ones I’ve pictures are ones I plan to read!

  6. Donna

    I absolutely love retellings! Of Beast and Beauty was simply incredible and there are a few others that I really enjoy too. Mercedes Lackey’s 500 Kingdom’s series is a lot of fairy tale fun and so is Alethea Kontis’ Enchanted. Both of these combine several fairy tales into one. I’m really looking forward to reading The Fairest of Them All. Personally, I don’t think there can be too many retellings if they all have their own original twist and bring something new to the story. Great topic!
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    • Tabitha the Pabkins

      It was incredible!!? I’m sooo glad to hear that! I can’t wait to read it. I just ordered Far Far Away that is based on the kid being a descendant of one of the brothers Grimm.

      All of those sound so good I will have to add them to the to be read mountain. I agree if done well the retelling is WONDERFUL if unique.

  7. DannyBookworms

    Up until recently when it was a retelling – I just stepped away and didn’t even read it. I didn’t want something similar to what has been there before, I wanted fresh and new!
    Cinder changed my mind – this one is so incredibly outstanding that it blows my mind.
    But that’s it – I rarely touch retellings and woudln’t mind if they would be original stories at all:)
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    • Tabitha the Pabkins

      I would pick up a retelling if the premise sounded really unique. I will still try them out – but I do not make it a goal to read all of them. I would get overwhelmed and sick of them if I did. Cinder is really marvelous I agree! She just takes little elements here and there and inserts them into a fully unique story that she created.

  8. Charleen

    I think they probably feel like they have to make it obvious, because there’s a huge crowd that loves retellings and actively seeks them out, so they want to make it easy for this built-in audience to find their books. I haven’t read many (the Gregory Maguire books might be it, honestly), but I do think I’d appreciate retellings that were more subtle about it.
    Charleen recently posted…Anticipation: Fall ReleasesMy Profile

    • Tabitha the Pabkins

      I definitely appreciate the ones that are more subtle. If you haven’t tried Cinder you definitely should. She has this wholly unique world/characters and concepts and then just inserts those tiny reminders here and there that it is a re-imagining of Cinderella. It is done so well that those tidbits add to the experience rather than being what the whole thing is about.

  9. [email protected]

    I can write a very long comment if I want to, but I’m going to make it easy: NEVER ENOUGH, haha. There are differences among the retellings though. It’s clear that some authors make it easy by sticking to the original story. That can be fun, but that’s not why I read a retelling. Most authors make it so fun, unique and thrilling – those are the precious ones that make this my favorite genre 🙂
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    • Tabitha the Pabkins

      Yes! I don’t like the ones that stick too much to the original story – it seems to much of a rip to me. Making it unique and truly RE-IMAGINING the story is what will make it great. Anyone can retell the story but the awesome authors take it and make it their own.

  10. Julie S.

    I can’t say I’ve read *that* many retellings so I might not be a good judge. Cinder is definitely among the best ones off the top of my head. So many others seem to be hit or miss though. So I guess it depends on how well the story is done, but I am careful and read a lot of reviews before picking one up.
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    • Tabitha the Pabkins

      Agreed! I can’t really say that I’ve read that many either. But I do see them all over the place. I really enjoyed The Looking Glass Wars, it was a retelling of Alice in Wonderland…a trilogy and quite good.

      Usually I can tell from the blurb if it’s something that sounds unique and worth it. But yes reading reviews is always a good way to do it!