Fractured & Macabre: 5 Fantastically Re-imagined Fairy Tales

Earlier this week, my dark fantasy story, “All the Red Apples Have Withered to Gray,” went live on the Shimmer website. That means it’s available for free to anyone and everyone, so head on over there and check it out!

This story—and its publication in Shimmer, which has long been one of my very favorite speculative fiction markets—is a huge moment for me and my writing career, so suffice it to say, this publication has been one worth celebrating here in my writer world. (I also want to give a shout-out to Scarlett R. Algee for being my beta reader on this story. There would be much less celebrating if it wasn’t for her and all her invaluable advice.)

“All the Red Apples” is a fairy tale inversion, one that takes the poison apple of Snow White and extrapolates it into a world—and a bewitched orchard—of its own. So in honor of me Snoopy-dancing over my Shimmer story, let’s take a look at some great fairy tale retellings that inspire me in my writing. Happily ever after not required.

“Tooth, Tongue, and Claw” by Damien Angelica Walters
An update on Beauty and the Beast, this story is brutal and unrelenting—expect no tender Byronic beast here—but even after her craven family and the unforgiving monster rob her of everything she’s ever known, our heroine never gives up. That sense of perseverance imbues this gorgeously horrific tale with just enough glimmers of hope to get the reader through the darkness (and believe me, there is some serious darkness in this one). As part of the inaugural volume of Nightscript, “Tooth, Tongue, and Claw” is one of many beautiful strange stories, so check out the whole anthology. Just be sure to leave the lights on.
Pick up a copy of “Tooth, Tongue, and Claw” here.

“So Sharp That Blood Must Flow” by Sunny Moraine
Forget the mermaid soul dissolving into sea foam. This unflinching retelling of The Little Mermaid elevates our jilted heroine above the usual lovesick victim into a full-on revenge-oriented warrior. However, that description doesn’t come anywhere close to encapsulating the nuances of this story. Rendered in the kind of flawless prose only Sunny Moraine can write, “So Sharp That Blood Must Flow” explores broader themes of feminine agency and the refusal to bow to tradition. This isn’t Disney’s Little Mermaid—heck, it’s not the bleak Hans Christian Andersen original, either—and that’s exactly how it should be.
Read “So Sharp That Blood Must Flow” for free here.

“The Fairy Godmother” by Kim Neville
Is it too meta to include another Shimmer story in this post about my Shimmer story? Maybe, but “The Fairy Godmother” from Shimmer #17 is too good to exclude. We all know about the proverbial Fairy Godmother who materializes and does right by a woebegone heroine, but what about the godmother herself? What’s the story of her life look like? This sweet tale from Kim Neville answers just that question. This entire issue from Shimmer is an absolute beauty with other memorable stories from Silvia Moreno-Garcia, Kristi DeMeester, and A.C. Wise, among others, so it’s definitely worth a read.
Pick up a copy of “The Fairy Godmother” here, or listen to the author read her story here.

“Snow Waiting” by Shannon Connor Winward
I went back and forth about including this one, not because it doesn’t deserve the honor (it’s one of my all-time favorite poems), but because I’ve already sang the praises of “Snow Waiting” many times in the past. Honestly, readers of my blog and Facebook page are probably tired of hearing me pontificate about this piece, but hey, you love what you love. And there’s so much to admire in this poem—the seamless character building, the rich language, the entirely new take on Snow White. It’s a beautiful and tragic retelling that uses the seemingly mundane aspects of adolescence and elevates them to archetypal. If you haven’t already taken my advice, then check out “Snow Waiting” today. In fact, even if you have read it once (or a dozen times), it’s worth another look. This poem is simply that good.
Read “Snow Waiting” for free here.

“The Company of Wolves” by Angela Carter
In some ways, this is the story that started it all for me. Until I was in college, I’d never come across any stories that so vastly re-imagined the world of fairy tales like this psychosexual ode to Red Riding Hood. Angela Carter was the scribe of countless fairy tale inversions, all of them fantastic in their own right, but “The Company of Wolves” will always remain my favorite. Also, don’t let the film of the same name fool you. The original story is the version you want. Nothing like a boldly dark and bloody retelling to get the heart rate up, and that is one strange order Angela Carter could always fill.
Pick up a copy of “The Company of Wolves” here.

Happy reading!