Discussion Post: How much of the fairytale do you want in your fairytale retelling?

discussion post

I’ve had fairytale retellings on my mind for a while now. I’ve been reading a few, reading the originals, and kind of am ready for a big ole fairytale binge to get myself back in the princess spirit. However, something has been wriggling in the back of my mind about fairytale retellings ever since I read Heart of Iron by Ash Poston.

How much of a fairytale do you want in your fairytale retelling?

I mean, it says it all in the name – FAIRYTALE RETELLING. You’re going to have some sort of fairytale in a fairytale retelling clearly. Wow, I’m being really astute there, Mandy. Very impressive. However, I’ve beginning to realize that authors do different amounts of the original fairytale in their retelling and I’m kind of totally picky about it???

Heart of Iron…where Mandy coined the phrase “bat thing”

heart of iron

Recently, I read the book Heart of Iron by Ash Poston after it being a most anticipated book for ageeeeeeeeeesssssss. It was toted as an Anastasia retelling, and despite her lack of Disney princess status, it’s one of my all time favorite princess movies. When I found out Ash Poston – queen of the adorably nerdy, fun, and SO FEELY Geekerella – was doing it, I think I died.

However, when I opened up the book, I found myself, well, sorely disappointed. There was no bat sidekick. No evil green glowing zombie Rasputin. Like, no Rasputin at all???? There was no ball. No sweet grandmother that was waiting in Paris. No plot to convince grandmother. And the big reveal? Was done by this guy named Robb who could I be convinced could be bat thing.

Basically, we got a lost princess, an android named D, and…that’s it.

In fact, Heart of Iron was really only loosely based on Anastasia, but I think just about everyone (in Mandy’s head and not in the YA society) told me it was going to be an Anastasia retelling, and then all of a sudden it was not. And it made me upset. It might have even affected my review and rating of it – it certainly affected my Goodreads updates. I wanted my beloved Anastasia, and I got sci-fi space adventure. HOW DARE SHE.


Isn’t that exactly what my holy grail of Cinder did?

I mean, Marissa Meyer only took the loose plot of Cinderella and mashed up sci-fi space adventure with a crazy aliens, a plague, and a plot of a missing princess. There was a lot more than just Cinderella going to a ball and Kai trying to find her shoe. In fact, Cinder did a lot of things backward with Kai already knowing and caring for Cinder before ever meeting at the ball. And I mean, he didn’t have to do any kind of search for the glass slipper – mostly because it was Cinder’s leg and she was still sprawled out in front of him on the ground.

However, if you compare it with Heart of Iron, it doesn’t compare. It still involves a ball. A girl losing her shoe (with her leg attached with it, but I mean). It still has a pumpkin carriage (lol orange hovercraft thing). Evil stepmother and a stepsister that demand everything from her. Her mice friends are an epic android. There is a prince.

While it still has a separate, exciting plot, it also takes a lot of the original elements on Cinderella and incorporates it in.

So, did Mandy just answer her own question?

I mean, I ask for a Cinderella retelling, I expect certain things just like what I got in Cinder: a girl with an evil stepfamily that is mistreated; a ball; a dashing prince-figure; and losing some sort of shoe to be chased down.

If I ask for a Sleeping Beauty retelling, I better get a sleeping curse, a spindle, some fairies, and an epic witch that may or may turn into a dragon.

If I ask for an Anastasia retelling, I apparently expect bat thing.

I’m all about the fairytale retellings; however I didn’t realize just how much of the fairytale I wanted in a fairytale retelling. I always thought I was good with the whole loosely based on thing, but I’m just going to blame Marissa Meyer for forever ruining me on fairytale retellings. She provides creative standalone storylines while also bringing all of the elements of the original fairytale. I mean, I guess I’m good with something loosely based on a fairytale if it’s repeatedly told to me over and over and over and over so I don’t accidentally think it’s a full on retelling like Heart of Iron.

Verdict: Mandy needs losts of fairytale in her fairytale retelling.

UN Right #27

27. Copyright. Copyright is a special law that protects one’s own artistic creations and writings; others cannot make copies without permission. We all have the right to our own way of life and to enjoy the good things that art, science and learning bring.

When Sha and I were coming up with post ideas for the UN rights, we knew right away that we had to do something with copyright and fairytales. At first, we thought, FAIRYTALE RETELLING TAG. And then Mandy was like, um, maybe not since I’m feeling some sort of burnout on creativity and apparently rambling is easier than creativity? Who knew.

Anyway, fairytale retellings are such an intriguing concept with copyright. In order to do a fairytale retelling, you have to take someone else’s original story and then take it as your own. I mean, you’re still doing unique and creative things with it, but it’s still someone else’s original idea. I mean, I’m all good with it as long as the original is given credit, but I know things got weird with it. I know I used to be on Wattpad and my own story was stolen and tried to create it for their own. No credit was given, and Mandy promptly quit Wattpad. So, um, please give credit? D:

What do you think? How much fairytale do you need in your fairytale retelling? Are you more okay with loosely based on? Do you ever feel cheated? Does it ever affect your opinion of the book? Let’s discuss in the comments below!

25 thoughts on “Discussion Post: How much of the fairytale do you want in your fairytale retelling?

  1. I actually haven’t been too picky about my fairy tale retellings. I like Liz Braswell’s books (or whatever her last name is) when a lot of people don’t. I know I couldn’t read Frogkisser or Spindle last year though. IDK what Spindle even was, and Frogkisser… I think I ranted about that before.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes, I totally agree, Colleen! But yes. I do as well!! I feel like I always forget about that, but it really is so handy to see how you compare with others on certain books.


  2. Whenever I see books said to be Anastasia retellings, I wonder if they mean the animated movie (which I have not seen), or the conspiracy theory that Anastasia survived the murder of her family (my history teacher last year told me they found her body, but it still fascinated me as a kid). I always think of the actual person before I think of the movie.

    With fairytale retellings in general, I guess I want to be able to look back on the book and be able pick out the elements taken from the original tale, but I don’t want it to follow the original so closely that I can tell what’s going to happen. I think I like my retellings to be more loosely based on the original.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Really! I don’t think that I ever really knew that it based on a real story until much much later on, so I kind of just always go with Anastasia the movie. But it is such a fascinating story. Funny how we think of differnet things first for things.

      But such a great point. You don’t want to know enough that you know exactly what’s happening but can be surprised by some things. ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  3. This is such an interesting post, since Anastasia isn’t TECHNICALLY a fairy tale, whereas stories like Cinderella have been retold so many times that you expect certain changes just for the sake of originality. I don’t know exactly where I fall, but I do feel like an Anastasia retelling should be somewhat close to the original….maybe 🤷‍♀️

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That is such a great point!! I didn’t think about that, but it’s so true. Everyone knows the whole plot of Cinderella retelling, but since Anastasia really hasn’t been done, I feel like it would follow a bit more indeed. Very odd. XD


  4. I think this really varies. It depends on the fairytale as well. For example, for the book mentioned, I would want ALL of Anastasia (yes, even the bat thing!!!) just because we never see Anastasia retold. However, when it comes to more famous fairytales, like Beauty and the Beast, I prefer a loose retelling. Beauty and the Beast has been done SO MANY TIMES that I feel like I need something fresh and original, with just a hint of the actual fairytale.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I totally agree! And yesssssssssssssssssss, I super agree. You’re so right about that – we never see Anastasia redone, so I just want everything from it as well (and the bat thing was great, lol). But YES. I think just the overall thought of the big name fairytales work a bit better but with the smaller ones, it seems to work better with more details.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Great question! Each fairytale has some sort of message or something that is the most recognized thing about it. I think I like to be able to see that in the retelling, but I want it done in an interesting way.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I personally go into books without reading the synopsis, so for me, it really depends on whether my brain clicks it’s a fairy tale retelling or not while I’m reading it. If I can make that connection without being told, awesome; if I can’t, hey, maybe the book is just fun as a standalone?

    But I agree with you! If you go into a book and you’re expecting an Anastasia retelling, and you don’t see that darned bat, it’s pretty disappointing as a fan. Terrific post! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oooooh that’s a good point. I didn’t think about that before, but it does make sense. Some can just stand as good standalones and it doesn’t matter if it’s inspired or not.

      But YES, lol. Important thing, lol. XD And thanks so much!! ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Honestly Marissa ruined me too. (But in the best way possible). Like for me, I need the bare bones of the fairytale in the retelling. I need the iconic elements in there. Not everything has to be obvious, like it took me a while to realize that Aimery was Levana’s mirror..but when I did figure it out I was wowed. See that’s the thing, I want to be wowed despite reading a retelling about a tale I have heard a million times! It’s either a hit or miss! But like if you are gonna pitch me Anastasia then glowing Rasputin and Bat Thing are kind of needed!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I tend to make a distinction between “based on” and “inspired by.” A book based on a fairy tale should, in my opinion, follow it more closely than a book inspired by one. Some people for instance say that The Lion King is an “adaptation of” Hamlet. Um, no. There aren’t enough parallels. It might be inspired by Hamlet, though.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes! I agree. I think those two distinctions are very important to the enjoyment of the novel. Because I know that I would be sitting there the entire way just thinking about how it’s really not based on it but inspired by or vice versa, LOL. But so very true. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  9. I haven’t read the books you’ve mentioned, but maybe you can equate your dislike of ‘Heart Of Iron’ to the fact that you built it up too much in your head because of what people were saying, what you were expecting and what you assumed it would be. With ‘Cinder’ you knew what you were walking into and that’s what you got.

    Where fairy tales are concerned I have a love-hate relationship with them. I’ve read a few in the past that I adored, but I’ve also been put off of just as many. I guess it depends on what I’m looking for in a story at the time that I read it. Being a mood reader sucks sometimes 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think that was pretty accurate about Heart of Iron. I certainly hyped it very much in my head, LOL. And I just focused on retelling for sure.

      And certainly very true! Mood definitely causes whether or not you really enjoy it or not at the moment. When you’re feeling a contemporary book in the middle of a fairytale retelling, it certainly won’t be going well. XD But it does sadly. 😦


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