Guest blog: Fairy Tales by Anna Mayle

I was recently asked to explain the genre of Fairy Tales. There really is no set definition though. They don’t need to have anything to do with the Fae, in fact most don’t. They come from all over the world through oral and written traditions and many have been told and retold so many times that they are nothing like the original. The only general connections I could find are that they all tend to be short stories with fantastical characters and events that are difficult to mistake as probable, and though they usually have some moral or meaning behind them they aren’t as pointed or quite as short as fables.

As the world gets smaller and people communicate more regularly with those in other countries, our pool of stories grows deeper and deeper. Every country has at least one. The most well-known Fairy Tales in my region of the world come from the Brothers Grimm and Hans Christian Anderson, probably because many have been used in modern media, although I can assure you the little mermaid did not get her man, and Cinderella’s step sisters didn’t look half as funny trying on the glass slipper in the original as they did in Disney…there was a lot more blood in the first version. Sadly the most well-known Fairy Tales are also the least well known for that very reason. People have sugar coated them until Fairy Tales have come to be known as children’s stories, warping them into happy endings. I assure you, most didn’t begin that way.  If you would like some examples, here is a link to the top 10 gruesome Fairy Tale origins:

In recent years there seems to have been a trend back toward the original darkness in these stories. Movies like The Brothers Grimm (2005), Black Swan (2010), and Red Riding Hood (2011) while they don’t follow the Fairy Tales themselves, definitely take steps back toward capturing the adult nature of the genre.  Even more than the recapturing of old stories, we’re seeing new tales as well. I’ve come across them mostly in comic books for example, Vögelein: Clockwork Faerie (2003) is a comic book about a clockwork doll whose guardian dies, she is left seeking someone she can trust to wind her. She is afraid if she winds down, when they wind her again she’ll only be a toy.

I’m not sure if my books would count as Fairy Tales or not.

You’re welcome to give them a read and decide for yourself ^_^, here’s my latest.

Daybreak for a Stolen Child

Nearly a year since the nightmare at the cabin. Life for Daniel and Leinad hasn’t gotten easier, but at least there is something to say for familiarity. They fight, they threaten, but they love each other and in the end, that should be enough.

It isn’t.

When the shadows start stealing closer, and the past begins catching up to them, how long will the two lovers have before the Fae in Daniel emerges, and before Leinad has to face his own demons once again? Until the harsh light of reality engulfs the fragile world they’ve built for themselves?

How long will it be until daybreak?

Can you think of some modern movies or books that would count as a Fairy Tale?

Anna’s website:

3 thoughts on “Guest blog: Fairy Tales by Anna Mayle

  1. I have to admit, I’ve become an avid watcher of Once Upon A Time and Grimm – for exactly that reason – their dark take on fairy tales. Both are deliciously dark and intriguing.

    Thanks for the link – and the book looks really interesting.

  2. I enjoy modern reinterpretations of fairy tales, like Tam Lin by Pamela Dean or Boots by Angel Martinez (just a couple I can think of without having to rummage through Goodreads).

    I tend to think of fairy tales as being the stories from, say, all those variously colored books put together by Andrew Lang. Your stories I would describe as contemporary fantasy, with a fairy talesque air to them. :)

  3. Hi Anna – thanks for the fascinating post! I grew up with a book of the original version of the Grimm tales (not sure my mum realised about the grusome endings), so to me they’ve always been a bit creepy and macabre. I also have a wonderful book of traditional Swedish fairytales illustrated by John Bauer (your first illustration is by him), and they’re dark too.

    I would say people like Tim Burton and Neil Gaiman are writing modern fairy tales, although perhaps that misses out the essential part of the equation: that they’re folk tales from an oral tradition.

    Oh, and Oscar Wilde wrote some beautiful fairy tales – they’re well worth checking out :)

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