I love a twist on a classic tale. This Reading on a Theme could be the first of many that feature fairy tales.
Who knew that what I was missing in my life was a cyborgian retelling of Cinderella? Just everyone who had already read Cinder. Cinder lives in a post World War IV world threatened by both a terrible pandemic and the Lunar Queen. Cinder is an orphan and a cyborg and a bit of an outcast, but she is also a famous mechanic which brings her to the attention of Prince Kai (he doesn't know about the cyborg part). Marissa Meyer's Lunar Chronicles are impressive in their scope, and they don't shy away from tough topics--death, disease, politics, oppression, impending war.
The Twelve Dancing Princesses:
Entwined by Heather Dixon is a story full of sisterly affection, sneaky magic, a little fairy-tale-style romance, and, of course, dancing. I enjoyed seeing how the girls' relationships with their father and suitors developed. Entwined is more of a middle-grade level book, and it reminded me of stories like The Goose Girl and Ella Enchanted. Also the cover is gorgeous. It's so much lovelier in person because of the shiny, silver leaves (which decorate the inside too). Ms. Dixon is also a talented artist, and it looks like she has another book coming out later this year.
Beauty and the Beast:
Cruel Beauty is Beauty and the Beast meets Greek mythology. The kingdom of Arcadia is cursed. Isolated from the rest of the world and ruled by The Gentle Lord who makes deals with his subjects that always turn sour. Nyx was raised knowing she must marry The Gentle Lord thanks to a deal her father made with the monster before she was even born. Nyx has also been trained the Hermetic arts, the magic of Arcadia, so that she can assassinate The Gentle Lord and free in land. The Gentle Lord, however, is not what Nyx expected. Rosamund Hodge's book contains layer upon layer, and that is what I loved about it. Cruel Beauty is out January 28th. Review copy from Edelweiss.
In Elizabeth Bunce's A Curse Dark as Gold Charlotte Miller becomes the reluctant owner of Stirwaters Mill when her father dies unexpectedly. She and her sister Rose struggle to keep the mill, and the small town that relies on it, going. But the mill is cursed, or so the locals whisper. Time and again just when Charlotte and Rose think they are going to get ahead something horrific happens making it absolutely necessary that they make a shady deal with a shady character if their mill is to survive the day. The setting that Bunce creates is just perfect. I really could visualize the mill and its surroundings hovering right on the cusp of the Industrial Revolution where the past and the future collide. This book is truly something special.
Little Red Riding Hood:
Jackson Pearce's Sisters Red is a retelling where the Red girls are like Buffy, the woodcutter is a good-looking young man, are there are lots and lots of wolves. Oh, and they are evil and soulless, by the way. After a Fenris attack that kills their grandmother and leaves Scarlett terribly scarred, Scarlett devotes her life to fighting the Fenris, and drags Rosie along in her quest for their annihilation. I liked the idea. I like the cover. I liked the fairytale prologue a lot. However, the twist wasn't all that surprising to me, and I wasn't really feeling love story either. I seem to be kind of talking myself out of a good review, but really at the time I thought it was okay.