Thursday, February 11, 2010

Fairy Tales and Romance Week: Weekend Reading

Today I thought I would share five of my favorite romantic fairy tale novels--these are not usually categorized as romance, but love is certainly a major part of the plotlines that use fairy tales as their inspiration. So if you're looking for a cozy read during the holiday weekend, especially if you are snowed in, consider reading or rereading these.

For the Valentine's Day holiday, these are all sweeter novels, not as gritty or harsh as some other excellent choices I'm not including here. They also all include my number one requirement for a good romantic story, the growth of a relationship into one of love and friendship. Each has unexpected elements and their usage of fairy tales is overt. All of them are safe for most reading ages, too, preteen and up. And hopefully this list is publishing early enough to find one of these at your favorite bookstore for the weekend, either for yourself or as a gift.

1. Beauty by Robin McKinley

It's always hard to choose a favorite McKinley novel, but since this was the first fairy tale novel I ever read, it remains a keystone in my experience. She uses Beauty and the Beast for her fairy tale, arguably one of the most romantic fairy tales depending on the interpretation.

2. Enchantment by Orson Scott Card

A departure from Card's usual fiction, I consider this one of his best novels and always hope he will be inspired to treat another fairy tale into a romance someday. His usage of Sleeping Beauty in modern and historical times as well as Russian folklore, especially Baba Yaga, is charming and engaging. It's one of the fairy tale novels I recommend regularly to friends and acquaintances who usually shun fairy tales.

3. The Blue Castle by L.M. Montgomery

It's hard to imagine a novel using Bluebeard themes to be romantic, but this one definitely is. I debated between this and Jane Eyre which also borrows from Bluebeard considerably, but this one is well-known by an author most famous for writing Anne of Green Gables and probably never appeared on your school reading list. This one is the most dated of the choices, of course, but it still holds up well and is one of Montgomery's better novels outside the Anne and Emily oeuvres.

4. Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine

This is still one of my favorite Cinderella novels, hands down. I was surprised the first time I read it, prejudiced into thinking I couldn't enjoy it too much since it was Cinderella and I am usually weary and wary of straight Cinderella stories. But I was wrong and only too pleased to admit it. This was clever and fun and even more romantic than I usually expect from a novel safe for younger readers.

5. Book of a Thousand Days by Shannon Hale

One of my favorites by Hale, especially since she once again chose a lesser known fairy tale as her inspiration, this time Maid Maleen. True love, based on friendship, is one of the themes, but Hale deftly adds other elements in what could easily be a horrific tale.


  1. A fantastic list! I've read three of your choices and heartily agree (Blue Castle, Beauty and Ella Enchanted). I'll be adding the other two to my ridiculous mountain of a to-read pile!

    Speaking of Bluebeard, I am curious if you've read the picture book Count Silvernose. I'm sure you have, but I thought I'd mention it anyway. I just recently purchases a copy for myself and it is one of my favorite fairy tale picture books of all time!

  2. Ah, excellent list. I read Beauty over the summer (as well as Rose Daughter, which I was actually inclined to like more), but have never read the others. Thanks for the post!