ARC Review: Sea Witch by Sarah Henning

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Retellings I’d Like To See More Of!

 

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Everybody likes a good retelling don’t they because I know I do! It’s really fun and interesting to see different, unique spins on stories we already know! However, there seem to be some stories out there that just don’t get enough love in my opinion. This list just puts together a few I’d really like to see done or see more of and they aren’t “fairy tale” specific either!

My list is specifically  referring to the YA genre for the most part.

Of course if I have happened to read an example of one of these I will link up a review or mention a retelling I know of even if I haven’t read it yet. I will also link up the books I have not read to their Goodreads pages! I will bold the ones that are personal reviews.

Also if you know of any retellings for these please let me know in the comments!

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Robin Hood

Such a popular classic story, wouldn’t you agree? However, as much I feel we see Robin Hood represented in other things such as movies or TV shows we really don’t get to see any different spins on the tale in books. I do know of one YA retelling called “Scarlet” by A. C. Gaughen.

I’d really like to see the same kind of idea as in “Scarlet” where outside characters interact with Robin Hood, or maybe a gender-bent Robin Hood, or maybe even a sci-fi retelling!


Aladdin and His Wondrous Lamp

Of course the story of Aladdin has been done a couple of times already but I still feel like I haven’t read enough Aladdin retellings! With all of the One Thousand and One Nights retellings that have been coming out recently I just feel it’d be even more appropriate for more Aladdin as well. There is a retelling called “A Whole New World” by Liz Braswell based off of the Disney version but it hasn’t really received great reviews. There’s also “The Forbidden Wish” by Jessica Khoury that is a simply amazing retelling where Aladdin falls in love with the gender bent genie, I highly recommend it!

I’d like to see more retellings in the style of Khoury’s with gender bent characters or a badass “Princess Jasmine” (I know that’s only her name in the Disney version but you get what I mean!) or even a gender bent Aladdin would be neat too! Really though I’m just down for any kind of retelling.


Beowulf

How epic and awesome would a Beowulf retelling be?! Ya know because the poem is already “epic” …………see what I did there?

Anyways, I actually heard there was going to be a sort of gender bent retelling coming out next year called “The Boneless Mercies” by April Genevieve Tucholke. Hopefully it turns out fantastic because I’m usually not the biggest fan of Tucholke’s writing.

However, I’d be really really interesting to see any kind of retelling of Beowulf like the gender bend Tucholke is doing or maybe a retelling from Grendel or Grendel’s mother’s POV?


The Arthurian Legends

Really just any of them from King Arthur and Excalibur, the Knights of the Round Touble, Merlin, or Morgan le Fay. Just any retelling on any aspect of the Arthurian Legends I need some authors to do this! I’m thinking it would make for some pretty great YA fantasy if it was done properly!


The Little Mermaid

Of course I feel it’s pretty safe to say we all know the story of The Little Mermaid but aside from the Disney adaptation are there really that many other retellings of it? The recent release “The Seafarer’s Kiss” by Julia Ember is the only retelling I know of and it combines a bit of Norse mythology with a F/F romance as well.

I’d love to see a retelling of this story since I feel there’s many creative ways to do it, the main character doesn’t even necessarily need to be a mermaid (even though mermaids are pretty great).


Hansel & Gretel

I really don’t know of any retellings of the Hansel and Gretel fairy tale and why that is I have no idea! The only representation I can think of is the movie Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters which I like the concept of. I’d really like to see a dark, horror retelling of this tale or something similar to that movie where the two characters are witch hunters.


Hua Mulan

I know that there are technically several retellings of this legend but in my mind just because your main character is disguising herself as a man doesn’t make it a  Hua Mulan retelling. So while books such as “The Flame in the Mist” by Renee Ahdieh, “Kingdom of Ash and Briars” by Hannah West (which was actually amazing), and “Defy” by Sara B. Larson have all been labeled as such I want the REAL deal! I’m thinking either fantasy or more historical fiction-y would work well!


The Iliad & The Odyssey

I know that Madeline Miller has done a retelling of “The Iliad” featuring a M/M romance with “The Song of Achilles” and is going to be publishing a sort of “Odyssey” retelling called “Circe” from the witch Circe’s POV as well which is fantastic! ( I also know those aren’t really YA either) However, why aren’t there more of these? There are so many different characters and creatures to work with from both epic poems I feel there should be more especially in YA!

It’d also be really great to have more M/M or F/F/ romances in them or maybe even some gender swapped characters as well.


Hades & Persephone or “The Abduction Myth”

As many retellings or uses we see of Greek mythology in modern literature we really don’t see all that much of the goddess Persephone or of her abduction by Hades. I feel like the overall allusion of this myth may be used quite a bit but there really aren’t any specific retellings.

I feel once again a gender-bend or M/M or F/F could make for a very interesting retelling of this myth. Or even just a twist where Hades might not be that bad of a guy and he and Persephone actually fall in love kind of like a “Beauty and the Beast” thing. Just throwing this out there since it’s one of my favorite myths, I know it sounds weird but I love how her story is an origin myth for the seasons.


Honorable mentions (since I don’t know a whole TON about these stories but would still like to see some retellings of them!)

  • The Snow Queen
  • Sinbad the Sailor

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Do you want to see any of these retellings as well?

Do you have any recommendations for books that are retellings on this list?

What are some retellings you’d like to see more of?

Let me know in the comments!

The Sassy

Book Review: Unhooked by Lisa Maxwell

 

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description

For as long as she can remember, Gwendolyn Allister has never had a place to call home—all because her mother believes that monsters are hunting them. Now these delusions have brought them to London, far from the life Gwen had finally started to build for herself. The only saving grace is her best friend, Olivia, who’s coming with them for the summer.

But when Gwen and Olivia are kidnapped by shadowy creatures and taken to a world of flesh-eating sea hags and dangerous Fey, Gwen realizes her mom might have been sane all along.

The world Gwen finds herself in is called Neverland, yet it’s nothing like the stories. Here, good and evil lose their meaning and memories slip like water through her fingers. As Gwen struggles to remember where she came from and find a way home, she must choose between trusting the charming fairy-tale hero who says all the right things and the roguish young pirate who promises to keep her safe.

With time running out and her enemies closing in, Gwen is forced to face the truths she’s been hiding from all along. But will she be able to save Neverland without losing herself?

review

Let me get this out first: Peter Pan is one of my all time favorite fairy tales and definitely one of my favorite Disney movies. So of course I had to buy “Unhooked” when I found out it was a darker retelling of Peter Pan, unfortunately it fell pretty short for me and I was ultimately disappointed with it. Sure there were a few interesting parts but they weren’t good enough to distract me from this book’s flaws.

This got really confusing by the end of the book and therefore my thoughts are also quite confused, I apologize in advance if some of my points get a little tangled. It’s hard not to rant about my issues with this book!

PLOT

 It starts off pretty solid and interesting we get a little background on Gwen and we find out her and her mom have been on the run their whole lives from “monsters” right before Gwen and her friend Olivia are kidnapped and smuggled off to Neverland. So there’s some little tidbits here and there that piqued my curiosity and kept me reading such as: why was Gwen’s mom always running from these monsters? Who was Gwen’s dad and where did he go? etc. That kind of stuff. Gwen then lands herself on Captain Hook’s ship and the story goes from there.

However, as the story proceeds the plot gets messier and more confusing with many, many things not getting answered. The only thing this book has in common with the Peter Pan story are the names of Captain Hook and Peter Pan himself and that it’s set in Neverland. That’s about it. I know that retellings take elements of the originals and then twist it and such but I wanted MORE with this book. Really the entire book is a romance between Gwen and “Captain Hook” with other plot elements being used to make the book seem like it’s about other things when it actually isn’t. It’s all about that romance.

The world building of this twisted version of Neverland was extremely lacking as were any explanations about events that took place in it. I was asking myself, “Yeah…but why?” way more than I should have.

The thing that pissed me off about this book the most was the ending. It was waaaaaay too rushed, confusing, and messy. When I say rushed I mean rushed, it was like Maxwell was told to end this entire story with one page out of nowhere. If you’re going to write a standalone then don’t wait until the last 10 pages to suddenly bring an unsatisfying conclusion to your story. Maybe if there was less time spent building a slow burn romance then we would have had an actual ending that made sense.

However, the number one reason I thought the ending to “Unhooked” was a disaster was because the romance took precedence over the friendship. Gwen got kidnapped with her best (and only) friend Olivia remember? What does she do the whole time she’s there? Look for her best friend, right? Kind of, when Gwen isn’t too busy making goo-goo eyes at Hook. Since I don’t want to actually spoil the ending though, I can’t say the whys or hows. Just know that in this book friendship gets trumped and that’s not something I enjoy in my books.

Also when you want to market your book as a “dark” retelling you need to add a little more than a few monsters. When you say dark I want dark, evil, and downright twisted.

So what did I actually like about the book? I enjoyed some of the darker twists to Neverland and the inclusion of Dark and Light Fae, also this book was very fast-paced which is one of the few reasons I could read through it. Short of all that though I wasn’t too happy.

characters

Gwen was just….okay. Is that a bad thing? Not necessarily. Is it a good thing? Not really. I want MORE from my characters than just okay-ness. Gwen was a pretty passive character and wasn’t as complex as I would have liked she sort of just let things happen and never really took charge herself. Gwen was one of those characters you yell at through the entire book telling her to do stuff or quit doing certain things, you know the drill. One of the few things I liked about her was her loyalty to her friend Olivia, however that really wanes by the end of the book. Overall she was sort of just a dull main character that I didn’t relate to at all.

Besides Gwen the only other important characters were Hook and Pan. I actually really liked Hook’s character in this book because he’s clever, calculating, and a bit snarky. The twist with his character is that he isn’t as bad as our original Hook.This Hook is actually quite compassionate and it’s very endearing, he really loves the boys that are under is care. Thus making him by far my favorite character in this book.

As far as Pan’s character though, I didn’t like him and that was very disappointing since of course my favorite Peter Pan character is Peter Pan. He was just a really flat character for me and of course since this is a twisted retelling Pan isn’t exactly our original hero, however, I didn’t buy it. He wasn’t bad and he wasn’t good, he was boring. This Pan just doesn’t do the original any justice even for a twisted version.

There were some very minuscule secondary characters and as with the main ones, weren’t all that interesting. There’s a few named “lost boys” and some other Fae but honestly if they were all cut from the story I don’t think it would change too much. Even Olivia, the main BFF, isn’t as important as one might think. She’s easily forgotten in the tangle of the romantic plot line.

romance

Want to know another big reason I picked this book up? The hint of a love triangle between Gwen and Hook and Pan. I’m not gonna lie, I got very excited by the thought of that since I’ve always loved the story of Peter Pan and having a YA version with a cute Hook and Pan with a love triangle was a dream come true. I usually hate love triangles but come on this sounded great! Unfortunately this was not the case at all…..

The romance is pretty much strictly between Gwen and Hook, color me disappointed. It’s a pretty slow-burn romance which I liked but I just didn’t feel a lot of chemistry and I didn’t like how it continued after certain plot points at the end of the story, I can’t really elaborate without spoilers so I just won’t. The entire story had to change and evolve to make the romance work and that’s something I don’t like in my books, there should be a good, solid story that shouldn’t revolve completely around the romance.

As I mentioned early too, the romance trumps the friendship. Not my style.

in conclusion

Ultimately this book was disappointing and it was disappointing that it was disappointing. That all adds up to a lot of general disappointment, right?

The plot was a complete mess and terribly confusing, the romance outdid the friendship factor, and none of the reasons I love the original Peter Pan story were apparent here even for a darker retelling, the main character was bland and passive.

Overall, this is not the Peter Pan retelling you’re looking for.

RECOMMEND

Nope, especially if you’re a big Peter Pan fan and definitely not if you’re looking for a good love triangle with a hot Hook and Pan. You will find none of that here and if you’re looking for a dark, twisted Neverland you could look in better places than in “Unhooked”. For example I’ve heard GREAT things about “The Child Thief” by Brom, that’s supposedly a very dark version of Peter Pan and has nothing but great reviews. I have yet to read it but I think it’s safe to recommend that in place of this.

Links: Goodreads / Amazon

The Sassy

Book Review: The Sleeper & The Spindle by Neil Gaiman

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description

A thrillingly reimagined fairy tale from the truly magical combination of author Neil Gaiman and illustrator Chris Riddell – weaving together a sort-of Snow White and an almost Sleeping Beauty with a thread of dark magic, which will hold readers spellbound from start to finish.

On the eve of her wedding, a young queen sets out to rescue a princess from an enchantment. She casts aside her fine wedding clothes, takes her chain mail and her sword and follows her brave dwarf retainers into the tunnels under the mountain towards the sleeping kingdom. This queen will decide her own future – and the princess who needs rescuing is not quite what she seems.

review

“She cursed the babe at birth, such that when the girl was eighteen she would prick her finger and sleep forever.”

This isn’t as great as I thought it was going to be. Yes it was a short fairy tale retelling and yes it was decent, it just didn’t go in the direction I wanted it to. I am a fan of Gaiman’s writing so this wasn’t as bad as it could have ended up being.

PLOT

The story has some very unique twists on the fairy tales of Sleeping Beauty AND Snow White, that were pretty enjoyable. Everyone likes a good twist don’t they? And Gaiman’s twist is no exception, it was quite good but it did lack a little in my opinion. Once the big twist is revealed the story quit being interesting, it depended too much on it.

I’ll also say this ISN’T the lesbian retelling everyone (myself included) was expecting and wanting, which is ultimately a little disappointing but it definitely didn’t ruin anything for me.

characters

This story is only 72 pages so it’s very, VERY short and therefore lacked any sort of complex plot or characters.

Although I will say I adored the Queen who is the main protagonist of this short little fairy tale. Instead of being given a cliched Prince to go save the Princess we get a Queen, a very capable queen.

The villain of the story was actually very run of the mill, all she wanted was youth and power. We’ve heard that a million times haven’t we? Yes we have.

Then we have the princess in need of saving, our Sleeping Beauty. She isn’t in the story really that much to even discuss.

The three dwarves were pretty great also, they’re the supporting characters. They help out the queen and that’s about it. They provided a little bit of comic relief as well and I’m also a fan of the comic relief.

Those Beautiful Illustrations:

Chris Riddell does some fantastic illustrations for this book, and I was unlucky enough to have read this book in Kindle format. I didn’t get to truly appreciate how gorgeous they were in the hardcover copy. Oh well life isn’t fair.

The illustrations depict everything happening in the story every step of the way, I actually relied on them more than the words. Don’t judge me, you would too if you read this with the pretty pictures.

in conclusion

I like Gaiman’s writing style therefore I did enjoy the book, it just wasn’t what I was expecting. Nothing game changing here. It was enjoyable enough though, and with illustrations like those it made it hard for me to be TOO disappointed.

RECOMMEND

Hard to say. If you’re a Gaiman fan then I’d recommend at least reading it, I don’t know if I can really recommend buying it though since it is so short. If you’re a fan of Riddell or books with really great illustrations then I definitely recommend reading it.

However, if you’re expecting a really great retelling with all sorts of unique twists then I’d say pass this one up. Yes there is a twist in this one but it won’t be enough for fans of retellings I wouldn’t think.

Links: Goodreads / Amazon

The Sassy