March 2023 Reading Challenge Discover Books
Once Upon a Time. . .
What is a fairy tale? I don’t know if there’s a “technical” literary definition of what constitutes a fairy tale. I could look it up, but chances are, I’d find many different answers that I’d need to wade through to make any sense of them. And those kinds of definitions don’t matter to readers like me. When I’m in the mood to read a fairy tale, I’m looking for the following:
- Once upon a time. A fairy tale is a story that takes place a long time ago or in the future. The time setting for fairy tales is often unclear, which is part of what makes them interesting. In other words, they’re timeless.
- Heroes and villains. The good and bad guys in fairy tales are clearly defined; I know who I’m rooting for when I read one.
- Magic. Every fairy tale needs at least a touch of magic.
- A problem. Every fairy tale has a central problem. Cinderella needed to get away from her stepmother. Sleeping Beauty needed to be protected from Maleficent. Belle needed to rescue her father.
- A happy ending. The good guys always prevail in a fairy tale. And they come out on top because they are good and kind, have hope, and choose the right even when it’s hard. In the face of adversity, the heroes and heroines take the high road and defeat the villain—every time.
Are these the things that make a story a fairy tale for you? If so, here are ten books to add to your reading list today.
The Near Witch
If you’re a fan of Victoria Schwab’s fantasy novels, such as Vengeful (not included in challenge points)and the Shades of Magic (not included in challenge points) series, then her debut novel, The Near Witch, originally published in 2011 and rereleased in 2018, will be a treat.
Yes, it’s her first work, and yes, it lacks some of the polish and panache of her later works, but Schwab’s special touch is evident throughout this short novel. The Near Witch is the story of Lexi, a mysterious boy, and children that inexplicably go missing. This book is satisfyingly spooky and checks all the fairy tale boxes neatly.
The Lunar Chronicles
There are four primary books in The Lunar Chronicles: Cinder, Scarlet, Cress, Fairiest, Winter, and Stars Above . Each book introduces a new heroine loosely based on traditional fairy tales: Cinderella, Red Riding Hood, Rapunzel, and Snow White, respectively. Their stories are woven together to form a single tale.
While the references to these characters are obvious, these stories are far from futuristic retellings of the same old yarns. There are cyborgs, the powerful Lunar Empire, plagues, and much more to keep you on the edge of your seat.
Thief of Cahraman
A new spin on Aladdin takes center stage in the first book of the Fairy Tales of Folkshore series. In this version, Adelaide is a young thief forced by a witch to pretend to be a noblewoman and compete to win the hand of the prince. Failure means death, and success means wealth and power for the witch. What could go wrong?
Other titles in the series: Prince of Cahraman, Queen of Cahraman, Beast of Rosemead, Beauty of Rosemead, Princess of Midnight, Dreamer of Briarfell, and The Faerie Prince.
The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making
Catherynne M. Valente
Fans of this book call it extraordinary, and you’ll agree. The title itself is marvelous, and the book is filled with delightful illustrations. Twelve-year-old September is a heroine invited to Fairyland on an unexpected adventure to retrieve a talisman from the enchanted forest for the new Marquess. The rest is magic. The book and the entire series are meant to be enjoyed by readers of all ages.
The Sleeper and The Spindle
Neil Gaiman & Chris Riddell
When it comes to modern fairy tales, author Neil Gaiman comes to mind quickly. Choosing just one of his many wonderful books is tough, but this version of Sleeping Beauty is brilliant. It’s creepy and fantastical and will definitely surprise you.
A Curse So Dark and Lonely
In the kingdom of Emberfell, Prince Rhen is reliving his 18th birthday over and over again. It was the day he was transformed into a beast. His kingdom is in ruins, and his future looks bleak.
Meanwhile, Harper Lacey lives in Washington, D.C., struggling with her cerebral palsy and caring for a mother in poor health. When Prince Rhen and Harper meet, you need to read the three books in the series to find out no spoilers alerts here.
Children of Blood and Bone
Every culture has fairy tales, and you’ll relish this book inspired by a West African folktale, plus other stories such as Harry Potter and Avatar. At the novel’s center is Orisha, a kingdom once filled to the brim with magic. But everything changed when a tyrannical king killed the magi and took away all the magic. Author Adeyemi skillfully weaves the perspectives of three principal characters—a young girl named Zélie, the despot’s daughter Princess Amari, and Prince Inan—into an action-packed adventure.
Hunted is another novel based on Beauty and the Beast. Beauty is a young girl named Yeva, forced to leave the royal city and move to the forest on the outskirts of town after her father loses his fortune. When her father goes missing while hunting a famed and elusive beast, Yeva goes on her own hunt. While you might be able to predict the outcome, you will nevertheless be surprised by the twists and turns this tale takes before the happy ending.
The Lost Queen: A Novel
Let’s shift momentarily to a book based on a true-to-life Scottish heroine named Languoreth. Her claim to fame? Her twin brother, Merlin. You might be tempted to categorize this book as a brilliant cross between the fairy-tale world of Camelot and your favorite historical fiction, and you’d be right. It’s a great read that you won’t want to put down. Part two of the Lost Queen is The Forgotten Kingdom.
Forest of a Thousand Lanterns (Rise of the Empress)
by Julie C. Dao
East Asia meets The Evil Queen in this fabulous novel about what one young woman is willing to do to become Empress. Xifeng has a majestic future, but the cost will be high. She’s not the type of princess you’re used to; Xifeng is complicated, ambitious, vulnerable, and completely committed to pursuing her destiny.
Dao’s novel is dazzling and filled with captivating details that pull you in from page one. This book fits the bill if you’re yearning for a darker fairy tale. Other titles in the series include Kingdom of the Blazing Phoenix, and Song of the Crimson Flower.
Your Happily Ever After
A great book is always a recipe for a happily ever after. Indulging in any of these or other fairy tale retellings guarantees many afternoons of reading enjoyment. Sometimes, amidst the chaos and uncertainty of life, it’s nice to know that everything will come out all right in the end.
Fairy tales are, in that way, a metaphor for life; things will come right in the end, and good will prevail. If it doesn’t feel that way today, you know you’re not at the end yet. Just keep going, and you’ll get there.
You can pick up all these fairy tales from discoverbooks.com today. In fact, you can put the entire series in your cart. Our low prices mean you can binge away on all your favorite fairy tales.
Are you ready to discover the magic and joy of a great fairy tale? Be sure to share your favorites with our reading challenge community. Looking for February’s Reading Challenge, click here. January’s Reading Challenge, click here. Join the Reading Challenge to earn points towards $5 credits.