Fairy Tales for Adults

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Fairy Tales for Adults

New ones, not the ones you know

I love fairy tales. I love the traditional tales, and I like how old characters can be repurposed for new stories like the Fables graphic novels and the Fablehaven series. I also enjoy modern retellings, such as Wicked by Gregory Maguire.
But, while I enjoy the old characters and stories, that’s not what this post is about. The books below are new fairy tales. Stories that include new creatures, and traditional creatures used in new ways. These are dark tales to haunt your dreams and make you think twice about that fairy circle in your garden. These are fairy tales for adults.

The Girl with Glass Feet by Ali Shaw
There is an archipelago in the north where strange things happen. There are creatures who have wings, but shouldn't, there are animals who are suddenly made to be albino, and there are light emitting jellyfish. There is, also, poor Ida. Ida visited once before, and now she is slowly turning into glass. She has now returned to the archipelago in an attempt to find a cure for her transformation, before it is too late.

The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
This is the book that inspired the list. I enjoy how it walks the line between a children’s story and an adult one. It’s written in a language that feels like it’s written for children, but the story is much too dark for most kids.
A man returns to his childhood home for a funeral. While there he visits his neighbors, who seem not to have aged a day.  He then remembers a suicide that occurred during his childhood. That death allowed a supernatural being of some kind to interact with our world. This being is soon able to take on a physical form and begins to torment the narrator. If anyone will be able to help him, it’s the strange neighbors at the end of the lane.
Bonus: Neil read the audiobook himself, and does a fantastic job.

The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton
Ava is like most girls. Except for the fact that she was born with a pair of wings. When Ava makes an effort to venture into the world, she is overwhelmed by the motives of others. Some mistake her for an angel, and others want to use her for their own devices. Pay attention to the title. The story is strange, beautiful, and sorrowful.

Some Kind of Fairy Tale by Graham Joyce
A teenage girl disappears without a trace one day. She returns on Christmas Day 20 years later, and appears to have not aged at all. She claims she was trapped by fairies.  But Peter, her brother, isn’t buying it.

The Changeling by Victor LaValle
A new father named Apollo is worried when his wife begins to exhibit signs of postpartum depression. But it much more than that. His wife Emma soon commits a horrifying act of violence and disappears into the night. Apollo must come to terms with his new life as he attempts to find his wife. Along the way we encounter what might be an island of witches, and a forest full of legendary creatures.
In addition to fictional monsters, Apollo, who has an African mother and a white father, must contend with real-life monsters, such as racist cops, distrustful book buyers, and suspicious neighbors.
The Obscene Bird of Night by Jose Donoso
This feels like the kind of book I could spend my life working to understand. It compares the breaking down of one’s body with a mythological creature called an imbunche. The imbunche is a human who is kidnapped as an infant and physically deformed, then used to guard the entrance of a warlock’s cave. Here, a character who suffers from physical deformities is locked away and kept in almost complete isolation. Is he slowly becoming an imbunche? Or is he going insane?

For me, this book fell firmly in the I’m not sure what I just read, but I want to read it again category.

Mrs. Caliban by Rachel Ingalls
Dorothy is doing chores and waiting for her husband to come home when she hears a strange announcement on the radio. Apparently, a monster had just escaped from the Institute for Oceanographic Research. Before she knows what to think, the monster shows up at the door, and Dorothy finds herself strangely attracted to this giant frogish creature. She hides it in the spare room, and sneaks out with him under cover of night.

This is one of the most unique books I’ve read. Part romance novel, and part Creature from the Black Lagoon. It’s also a quick read at just over 100 pages.