Welcome back to Crazy Book Genres, where we discuss the inner workings of unusual but enjoyable novels that partake in peculiar genres. In this episode, we’ll discuss the marriage between Fairy Tales and Horror. When the two meet, you get some unique, creepy, and maybe even a dash erotic in the taboo narratives. Take the familiar stories you’ve learned as a child, whether through books, oral tellings, or your favorite Disney adaptation and add a dash… or maybe a whole bottle of scare to the story. Let’s dive into what started Horror Fairy Tales and what makes it so interesting.
The Beginnings of Horror Fairytales
Funnily enough, fairy tales don’t always have happy endings. They were actually relatively grim… get it, Grimm? The Grimm Brothers have been called the Fathers of Fairytales — some stories they updated into their own take, such as Cinderella. Cinderella was a classic tale that originated from differing parts of the world with its own spin. But Charles Perrault wrote the official book. The Brothers took inspiration from him and expanded the story. A lot of their tales are far too sour to read to children. For instance, the two evil stepsisters in Cinderella chopped parts of their feet off to fit inside the glass slipper… talk about scarring!
In fact, the earliest fairy tale made by the Grimm Brothers was in 1812, The Smith and the Devil, where a Blacksmith makes a deal with the devil. Yes, Horror has been well-established inside these stories for far longer than people may have realized.
The Formula of Horror Fairytales
It’s fairly simple.
Think of a classic happy fairytale and twist it to an extreme.
The beast never turns back into a human?
What actually happens to Cinderella’s evil stepsisters?
What if the Prince in Sleeping Beauty was evil?
However, for other creative liberties, writers also tend to create their own fairy tales filled with whimsy and fantasy, yet another layer of terror that lurks in the corner for the said protagonist.
Here are some novels that follow this quota:
Malice by Heather Walter
After a curse is placed on all the princesses to die, the only cure is a true love kiss. In this case, no one really cares about the downfall for them, including Alyce. But that soon changes when she grows fond of Princess Aurora. The problem? Alyce is a Dark Grace, AKA a dark sorceress. Princesses don’t end up with villains? Right?
Stepsister by Jennifer Donnelly
After Cinderella rides off into the sunset, what exactly happens to her evil stepsisters? Isabella, one of Cinderella’s ugly stepsisters, cuts off her big toe, and now the shoe is dripping with blood. At first, she deceives the prince, and all is well until he eventually uncovers the truth. As such, she’s turned away in shame. She’s not your typical beauty — in fact, she’s nothing of the sort because she’s mean, jealous, and a hollow girl. But is there redemption in this stepsister’s future?
Beasts and Beauty: Dangerous Tales by Soman Chainani
This is a collective story of dark fairy tales that are twisted and scary. You’ll see the reflection of the real world in these fairytale stories. Who doesn’t love a short story collection?
The Croning by Laird Baron
Want a creepy, grizzly, cosmic horror novel? The Croning is just what the doctor ordered. A geologist and academic, Donald Miller, has lived a long dual life between charmed and absent-minded individuals. Yet, things soon change when he discovers a dark secret about his wife, their adult twins, and everything in between. He’s about to discover the mystery of the Croning. This is a modern retelling of Rumpelstiltskin…
The Changeling by Victor Lavelle
As we go further down the list, can you tell things are getting a bit darker? Yeah, I did, too. Apollo Kagwa’s father has disappeared. Now, all he has is strange recurring dreams and books stamped with the word IMPROBABILIA. Years later, Apollo is now a father, and his old dreams are back in action. He and his wife, Emma, are exhausted from becoming parents. But it takes a bit of a toll on Emma as she appears to have postpartum depression.
Things only get worse — far worse. Emma does this terrifying, unspeakable act no parent can comprehend, and she disappears into thin air. Now, he must try to find his wife and son with only the help of a stranger who appears to know all the answers. He ventures into forests, graveyards, and other whimsical places that will take him on a journey. Explore parental obsession, spousal love, and secrets that can’t be held for too long.