Top 5 Fairytales

Top 5 fairytales

It’s no secret that I love fairytales. I draw on them in my work a great deal, probably in part because they were among the first books I ever read. I have tons of them, too – from the books I dug out of my grandparents’ house, to the matched set of Andersen’s and Grimms Fairy Tales my mother gave me for Christmas when I was six, to the ones I’ve carefully collected over the years. Some of my best finds were in a wonderfully smoky used bookstore in Inverness.

The older, the better. If I can find them from pre-Christian or non-Christian cultures, that’s gold.

So what are my top five favorites of all time?

5. Princess Goldenhair and the Wonderful Flower

This is one I found at my grandparents’ house. It’s not old at all—published in 1932—and it’s more a retelling in a fairy tale theme. I instantly and lastingly loved the story for its unusually even-handed approach to the story, especially the princess. In researching for this post, I’ve discovered that the author, Flora Spiegelberg, was a Jewish woman who lived in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where I live now. No wonder I loved her book!

4. Táin Bó Cuailnge

This isn’t exactly a fairy tale either, but it counts in my head. The Táin is an Irish epic tale which dates back to the eighth century in its current form and is thought to reference events from around the time of Christ. It’s all about Cúchulainn, who is represented as a shapeshifter in some tales, and the great warrior queen Medb, among others. Fantastic stuff.

3. The Twelve Dancing Princesses

This is a terrific tale that actually informed my Twelve Kingdoms books pretty heavily. I couldn’t really pull off writing about twelve princesses, so I carved the idea down to the traditional three. In the fairy tale, however, the twelve princesses sneak out every night to dance with the fairies. They claim to be sleeping, but each morning their shoes are worn out. I always loved the idea of them being so rebellious and partying away, with no one able to thwart them.

2. Beauty and the Beast

How can I leave this out? There are so many versions of the tale, going back to ancient, almost unrecognizable ones taken from oral histories, to the copious retellings. In fact, the story is so pervasive, it’s become a trope. I’ve done it at least twice – an erotic version, called Petals and Thorns, and it’s really the core of the second Twelve Kingdoms book, The Tears of the Rose.

1. The Goose Girl

Still my all-time favorite fairy tale, largely because I had a difficult time understanding it. The image from that book my mom gave me when I was six has haunted me all my life. I read the story over and over, wanting to dig into it and never quite sure what it was telling me. And I always wanted to do a retelling. Now, with Heart’s Blood in Dark Secrets: a Paranormal Noir Anthology, I finally got to.

I’m really pleased with what I discovered.


*previously published for the release of Dark Secrets: a Paranormal Noir Anthology in 2015*