We all know the story of Cinderella. Girl’s mother dies, her father remarries to a horrid woman with horrid daughters, and the girl becomes a servant in her own home—until a fairy godmother and a discerning, shoe-toting prince change everything forever. It’s a simply story—the Grimm’s brother’s version is only two or three pages long.
That said, if you look up “Cinderella” on Goodreads, no less than 54 pages of results pop up. That’s over 1000 books somehow based on thbe story of Cinderella—and that’s only one little fairy tale (though granted, it’s a very well known one!) and that doesn’t count tv, movie and play adaptations.
So what is it about a fairy tale—any fairy tale—that makes us reach for them over and over again, even if we already know how it’s going to end? Is that what we like? Knowing that—minus a few intentionally twisted versions—the girl ends up with the boy, and everything ends up happily ever after.
Or is it more of a tug-of-war in our hearts, where we want something old and familiar, but we also can’t help but yearning for something new and exciting? Could it even be… *gasp* a bit of a sell-out? People re-telling something they already know will sell, because it has so many times before?
Maybe another question I should be asking, is, why do we feel the need to recreate something—why can’t people come up with brand new fairy tales all on their own? Some certainly have—look at Neil Gaiman, for example. Or Maggie Stiefvater, who I can’t stop raving about.
So what do you think? What is it about a retold fairy tale that appeals to you? What are the turn-offs? What are the best ones you’ve read? We’re always curious to know your thoughts!