Tag Archives: retelling

The King’s Knight by Lisa

He is not handsome.

I watch the man sleeping on his side, one hand under his pillow, as if he had a sword stored there, and I know it as well as the rest of the kingdom does. His face is twisted in such a way that it seems as if he always has a surly expression, almost grotesquely enhanced, like some churlish tavern pamphlet illustration.

No one could believe that a hero could be so ugly. They don’t have to believe it—they see his face only when it is covered by his helmet.

He is not like my husband.

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Movie Magic Monday: Sci-fi’s Tin Man

Imagine the Oz you knew as a child. The magical yellow brick road, the innocent Dorothy caught in the whirlwind and crushing the witch, the beloved characters singing and dancing hoping to reach the Wizard so they could all get something… a brain, a heart, courage, home.

Now forget all of that. Scifi’s Tin Man is not your mother’s Oz. It’s a modern, edgy, steampunk inspired retelling that is clever in all the right ways.

For starters, Dorothy is replaced by DG, played by the lovely and charming Zooey Deschanel. And don’t expect the pig tails and blue dress. That’s her waitress uniform. DG rocks slacks and a bomber jacket. The wicked witch is actually a beautiful Sorceress, Azcadilia, in search of the Emerald to amplify her power during the coming eclipse. Oz is known as the O.Z. (or outer zone). Tornadoes are travel storms from their world to ours. And Scarecrow? Well, his name’s Glitch and he’s got a zipper on his head from when they removed half of his brain because he knew too much.

That’s only the beginning of this inspired re-imagining. I was stunned by how clever and original it all felt, not to mention the amusing nods to the classic all throughout (“It’s Tutor.” “Toto!”) I highly recommend this! It suffered from a little bit of corny overacting during the final act but the project as a whole is so ambitious and fun, it can be forgiven! A-

Lisa’s Tuesday Perspective: Fairy Tales Retold

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!

Lisa’s Tuesday Perspective: The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale

the-goose-girl2Ah, the Books of BayernThe Goose Girl is Shannon Hale’s retelling of a classic, albeit slightly lesser-known Grimm’s Fairy Tale about a young princess who travels to a far kingdom to marry a prince, but along the way is sabotaged by her clever, charismatic handmaiden, who then rides into the new kingdom claiming to be the princess, leaving the true princess to try and find her own way, beginning with working for the king as a humble goose girl.

I won’t tell you more than that, (though of course you can look the fairy tale up!) but I have to say that I love this book.  Shannon Hale takes a page-long fairy tale and turns it into a lovely, epic novel.  The book is a bit slow, but it’s so rich it reads like melting chocolate.  This is the book that made me want to write some sort of fairy tale of my own, because the language in it is just so beautiful and expansive, and that’s what I wanted a book of my own to sound like—not that my style is at all like Hale’s, hers leans towards poetry in some spots.

What really makes this novel fantastic are the side characters.  There are characters here that are developed more later on in the Bayern series (that’s the kingdom name, just so you know) that I just love beyond words, but I’ll get to that as I talk of the other books.  The main character here, Ani, the princess Isi in disguise, is a masterful storyteller who gains followers because of the beautiful stories she tells, and that’s a storyline that any writer can fall in love with.

Ani is taken from a world where she is kept from everything, and everything is done for her, to a world where she is nothing but the lowest of the king’s servants, but the way she conducts herself and the waGoose-Girly people are pulled to follow and help her, are proofs of her royal nature.  In the end, the imposter princess has no real chance.  There’s a great twist as to how she’s dealt with, too, that’s straight from the brothers Grimm, so if you don’t like to be surprised, don’t read the fairy tale before you read the book.  Even if you know the original story by heart, though, there’s something here to delight and enchant you.

The book covers have recently been redesigned, probably because it’s difficult to tell from this original, pastoral-painting-esque cover that this is the first novel in a series, or that it’s a Young Adult fantasy.  The new cover, to the right, definitely says that clear as day.  I’ll admit I’m a bit partial to the old covers, but the new ones are quite nice, too.  Either way, I’ll have to get used to them, because the fourth novel Forest Born, available September 15th, is definitely in the new style.  At this point I don’t really mind, though.  I’m just happy to see another book in this beautiful world!

I give The Goose Girl a contented A.

Stay tuned as I talk about the sequels, Enna Burning and River Secrets in the upcoming weeks!

Rapunzel, a Retelling by Lisa


Rapunzel, a Retelling

© Lisa Asanuma, 2009

My mother wasn’t quite the woman the stories have made her out to be.  Ugly, cruel, to lock a beautiful young girl up in a tower with no chance of escape and no one but herself for company.

The truth was, I went in willingly.  She didn’t force me, or put me into an enchanted sleep until the deed was done.  She told me she wanted to protect me, to keep me from the horrible things of the world.  And I was a vain and naïve child.  She told me I was beautiful and I believed her—it was very lucky for me that I truly was.  She might have had a twisted perspective of the world, and she might have taken advantage of my young and trusting mind, but I did trust her, and if I had the option of going back now—not to the tower, understand, but to her—I probably would.

She had been beautiful once, and loved and admired for her talents, one of the last of her kind, of the revered witches.  She was born too late, outlived her sisters, was chased and persecuted.  Can you blame her for wanting to hold fast to something, someone she loved?

I harbor no illusions, however.  I know she is not my true mother, that she stole me from a pair of peasants as a display of power.  I’ve seen them, since, the woman staring longingly after me, a woman who looks like me, who I used to dream of though I was hardly old enough to remember her when I was taken.

But that woman never brushed my long golden hair, or told me stories of the songs the moon would sing, long ago, as my mother did.  My rescuer would only have me remember that in my tower I had no door, but I had a window, and the sky, and every possibility open to the imagination that those things could bring me.

It was more difficult than I can tell to leave that cozy room, full of all the lovely things she could give me.  To give up my entire world, just for him.  She would most likely kill me now, the poor woman, as I’ve betrayed all her trust and broken her heart.  That he is a prince, that he is rich and handsome and benevolent, is easily enough understood.  That he is worth it… remains to be seen.

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