It's "Tell a Fairytale" Day! I've never heard of this, but I gotta jump on the bandwagon.
One book that I loved dearly (and was stolen from me) was a copy of Grimm's Fairytales from the 1930s with original watercolor pictures. I no longer own it (dang it!), but I know the fairytales I grew up with were NOTHING like how they really are. They are sad stories teaching lessons, and sometimes just horror stories that were told in ancient time to frighten little children before bed.
I've read many adaptations of fairytales, but one of my favorites is none other than Juliet Marillier's Sevenwaters Series, the first novel, Daughter of the Forest, in particular. It was my first true adult novel I ever read, back in 7th Grade. Many a time, when I should've been rechecking my work I was reading this baby, and the two novels that came after, Son of the Shadows and Child of the Prophecy.
This novel is beautiful, holding the magic and beauty of the original tale it was based on, The Six Swans. Sorcha is the seven child and only daughter of Lord Colum of Sevenwaters. Her mother died while giving birth to her, which broke her father's heart. Raised by her six older brothers, she's powerless as she watches an evil sorceress win her father's heart and destroy her world from the inside out. When the seven of them try to free their father with old magic, Lady Oonagh (the sorceress) turns the boys into swans while Sorcha flees. To lift the curse, she has to weave starwort, a plant covered in spines so fine it looks fuzzy (kinda like cholla. Don't know what that is? The bane of my existence here in the desert), into shirts for each of them. Along the way she endures terrible dangers and even has to leave her native Ireland for the home of her enemy, the Britons (England). She finds true love and learns the greatest sacrifice. It's beautiful.
Though, for my Mormon friends and family, there's a rape scene in this novel and sex in many of the others.
I love this series, and want to own all of them. Fairytale woven into true art without the typical clichés.
Now, if you don't want to check that out, you should check out the prologues to LA Knight's two novels that take fairytales and turn them on their heads, The Shepherd's Daughter, and I Hear the Bones Singing.
Here are the covers for Daughter of the Forest, and the rest of the Sevenwaters Series. I hope you enjoy them, and never forget there's magic and adventure around every corner!
(The long ones are the front and back covers for Heir to the Shadows)
You know, with all the pictures, I realized I haven't told the fairytale! So let me give a quick one (if you want to read these novels and don't want to find out, don't continue reading)
Once upon a time, deep in the ancient forest of Sevenwaters, live seven children. Their names, in order of eldest to youngest, were Liam, Diarmid, Cormack, Conor, Finbar, Padriac, and little Sorcha, the only sister. Their childhood was filled with running wild in the forest, learning about the earth and land that their father lead as Lord Colum. Their lives were peaceful, though a terrible war raged between the island nations of Erin and Britton.
One terrible night, a boy Britton was taken captive. Unwilling to let a boy of sixteen die a terrible death, Finbar and Sorcha worked together to free him. This was the beginning of the change that would shift their lives forever.
After Sorcha had helped the boy, Simon, heal, she was summoned home and learned that a terrible sorceress had taken hold of her father's heart and home, the Lady Oonagh. Determined to free their father, land, and lives, they go to a great birch tree to try to break Oonagh's power. But before they could act, the witch had captured the boys, and it was all Sorcha could do to flee and watch in horror as her brothers became swans.
The Lady of the Forest, faerie queen of Sevenwaters, granted Sorcha the power to free her brothers under certain conditions. First, she must never speak, never make a sound with her voice. She could not ever write. And second, she had to weave shirts out of the starwort plant, a terrible flower covered in thin, monstrous thorns. If she would do these things, her brothers would return to her as men. But she could see them as men twice a year, on the longest day of the year, and on the longest night, but only so long as the sun was set. By dawn, they were nothing more than birds.
Sorcha did these things, never speaking, never crying out, even as the making of the plants tore her hands and scarred them forever. But one night, a terrible fever took her, and, determined to become cool, she slipped into the river. Three men, Britons, all of them, saw her fall in and not surface. Frightened for her safety, they saved her. Seeing her alone, they decided to take her back with them, for the leader, Red, was Lord Hugh of Harrowfield, nephew to Lord Richard, leader of the Britton's army.
There, Red tried to protect her from his people, who looked down on her, and from his uncle, who wished to learn her secrets and perhaps gain some knowledge that would defeat his enemy, Lord Colum. But when he learned that his younger brother, Simon, was alive, he left to Erin once more, hoping to find his only sibling. To protect her, he married her and gave her his name, but it wasn't enough.
While he was gone, the winter solstice came, and with it, her brother Conor flew across the ocean, hoping to protect her. They were spotted together, and by dawn, she was charged with witchcraft and adultery. After a horrifying trial, Sorcha was sentenced to burn at the stake. But before they can, Red returned with Simon, and her brothers flew down to protect her until her husband could reach her. All of the shirts had been completed, and she quickly place them upon the six swans. All, that is, but the left sleeve of the shirt that fell on Finbar, who bore a white swan's wing in place of an arm for the rest of his life.
The seven returned home and found it all but deserted. The Lady Oonagh had fled the moment she felt her spell break, and with her she had taken her only child. For Lord Colum had sired one more son, but that is another tale for another time.
Shortly after returning, Red was captured, and confessed that he loved Sorcha more than his family, more than his title and land, more than life itself. He gave Simon his inheritance, and spent the rest of his life in Erin, living with Sorcha, whose hands had been healed by the Lady of the Forest. Together, they lived happily ever after.