'Twisted Tales' Book Recommendations

By: Shanleigh Klassen

“You think you know these stories, don’t you? You are wrong. You don’t know them at all.”
― Soman Chainani

Ready yourself to enter an enchanted wood where nothing is what it seems in our April 2022 box, TWISTED TALES. Our featured book is an incredible story that starts off as a fairy tale retelling, and then heads in an entirely new and original direction.

Fairy tale fans young and old will have an absolute blast with our April book, but if you can’t wait until then, be sure to check out these recommendations for other great twisted tales that will take you someplace both new and familiar.

Beasts and Beauty: Dangerous Tales by Soman Chainani, illustrated by Julia Iredale
Book cover for Beasts and Beauty: Dangerous Tales by Soman Chainani. Image shows a large wolf head descending from the top of the image, it's jaws open, ready to devour the small red-cloaked figure below it. Colors are mostly pale teal, making the image very dark and moody.

This anthology takes twelve familiar fairy tales and re-spins them into completely new stories, each standing both alongside and separate from their original inspiration. You’ll easily be able to recognize the beginnings of each story, but from there, the paths veer off and the endings may not be what you expect. For those brave enough to face what awaits them will be rewarded with a volume of stories that are fierce, true, and utterly magical.

Sisters of the Neversea by Cynthia Leitich Smith
Book cover for Sisters of the Neversea by Cynthia Leitich Smith. Image shows three children flying above a residential street below them. The first child is a dark skinned Muscogee Creek child in pink pajamas with two pigtails flying above her. The second is a White child with short red hair in green pajamas, who holds onto a brown, multiracial child with short brown hair wearing blue pajamas.

Lily and Wendy have been best friends since they became stepsisters. Along with their half-brother Michael, they’ve always loved the complexity of their blended family, but now it seems their family is on the verge of breaking apart. And then one night a boy named Peter Pan entices Wendy and Michael away to Neverland. Lily follows soon after and discovers another side to Peter, one where the boy who never wanted to grow up may have grown into something entirely monstrous. This timely and fantastical retelling thematically honors the original Peter Pan without glossing over its flaws.

Rumaysa: A Fairytale by Radiya Hafiza, illustrated by Rhaida El Touny
Book cover for Rumaysa: A Fairytale by Radiya Hafiza. Image shows a tall red tower in the middle of a forest, with a sky darkening from pink to dark blue in the background. From a window in the top of the tower is a young Muslim child wearing a light blue hijab, the tail of the hijab floating in the breeze.

For as long as Rumaysa can remember, she’s been locked in her tower by the witch Cordelia, forced to spin straw into gold. That is until the day Rumaysa lets down her hijab and escapes. What follows is a fairy tale woven from the familiarity of Rapunzel, Cinderella, and Sleeping Beauty amongst Eid celebrations and feasts with samosas, kheer, and handesh. This refreshingly magical story challenges the stereotypes from the classics and reminds us to be the hero of our own stories.

Snow & Rose by Emily Winfield Martin
Book cover for Snow & Rose by Emily Winfield Martin. Image depicts two caped figures standing on either side of the title text, with tree trunks and a darkened wood behind them. On the left is a White child with blond hair wearing a light blue cape and hood, and on the left is a White child with dark hair wearing a red cape and hood. At their feet is a grassy forest floor with mushrooms. A golden key floats in the space between them.

Once, sisters Snow and Rose lived in a grand house but ever since their father disappeared into the woods and their mother disappeared into sorrow, all they have left is each other. Now, the small family lives in a remote cabin and unbeknownst to them, Snow and Rose’s every action and interaction sets off a series of events that the woods themselves have been waiting for. Although the sisters’ personalities are entirely different, their love for each other makes their relationship all the stronger. A lyrical and beautiful retelling of the little known Snow White and Rose Red, this is a cozy and moody story that’s best enjoyed under a nice, warm blanket.

Blackberry Blue and Other Fairy Tales by Jamila Gavin, illustrated by Richard Collingridge
Book cover for Blackberry Blue and Other Fairy Tales by Jamila Gavin. Image shows a dark-skinned woman in bright red dress materializing from flowers and leaves, with bright blue gems woven into her dark hair. In the background, a wolf howls from atop a cliff and white castle towers in the distance. The image is framed by brambles from all sides.

A short story collection that renews and challenges the classic fairy tales we’ve all heard before into new, richly-told original stories. Each tale takes a new approach to classic fairy tale elements, such as the wicked witch, the enchanted forest, and talking animals to name just a few. You may feel you recognize these stories, but you’re in for a wonderfully magical surprise.


Furthermore by Tahereh Mafi
Book cover for Furthermore by Tahereh Mafi. Image shows a white skinned, white haired girl in the centre surrounded by ribbons which unravel in all directions. To the left of the girl is a dark skinned boy with blonde hair, holding a handful of scrolls. Amongst the ribbons are other various items. From the top left, there is an open book, a set of open doors, a tree with triangle-shaped leaves, a ruler, a fox, and a rounded egg-shaped item in the bottom left. Background colors is a gradient from dark purple to fuschia.

The land of Ferenwood is a riot of color, which makes Alice feel like an oddity with her white hair and skin, not to mention her missing father. One day, Alice is approached by Oliver, a boy whose magic is based in lies and deceit, who invites her to join him as he descends into the mythical, dangerous land of Furthermore to help him bring her father home. This is a wondrously original story which nods to the extraordinary fantasy of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and feels though you’re being told a story from a chatty, close friend who can’t wait to get to the next event.

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