Although I had a busy year, with university classes from spring to summer and fall, I have snuck in time to read books outside of my classes and almost all of them have been retellings or alternative storylines of popular figures in literature or the Disney Universe. I think that each of these books was fantastic, and not just for the sake of it being mature fan fiction. Each of these stories explores the worlds that previous creators put into place to a deeper extent and because of their strong transformative nature, I think they deserve to be recommended.
This list of books is spoiler free.
Heartless by Marissa Meyer
I don’t why I thought that this was going to be a happy story. Honestly! It was only until the near middle of the book that I really thought about what I was reading: the origins of the Queen of Hearts. I don’t know why I was looking for a happy story! Marissa Meyer gives readers an interpretation of how the fear-inducing Queen of Hearts came from a young, fantastic baker named Catherine. Catherine has a title, a family with a notable amount of riches, and the eyes of the king are stuck on her. However, all she wants to do is bake, but her mother disapproves of a lady meddling with manual labor. As with Meyers’ previous work of Lunar Chronicles, she shows how evil queens were easily the princesses we admire and sympathize with. It’s just that their side of the story was not told and they let their brokenness fuel their methods, as well as their rage. I’ll leave it to you to find out what could make a woman so Heartless.
A Whole New World by Liz Braswell
What I really appreciate about A Whole New World is the look into Aladdin’s home among the Street Rats. Braswell doesn’t sugarcoat what its like to be poor in the book. However, she does a great job of humanizing the Street Rats and explaining the dazzling world that so many Disney fans are familiar with, as well as adding her own twists. If you’ve seen the cover of the book, you may think you know how the tale is twisted because the cover says ‘what if Aladdin never found the lamp.’ Well, no. No, you don’t. There’s a twist to the twist, new information, and more background for certain characters. Who knows? You may come to, at least, understand the characters you didn’t like and even become frustrated with the ones you did like. Then, there will be characters that you will come to love and sympathize with even more. Not spoiling. Just saying.
As Old As Time by Liz Braswell
Now, I’m playing favorites because Belle is duking it out with Tiana as my favorite Disney Princess, but As Old As Time is a fantastic and thought-provoking alternative tale about “Beauty and the Beast.” As I said with A Whole New World, you think the twist is what it says on the front cover—what if Belle’s mother was the enchantress? However, you don’t know the half of it! Braswell does fantastic work as she spins a whole new world (no pun intended) around the kingdom where Beast grew up. Have you ever wondered why there was a castle sitting in the middle of the woods all lost and forgotten? I mean, no else has seen it?! Really? Hmm…If an enchantress was around, were there other magical creatures around? Was the punishment towards the young prince justified? I definitely encourage you to read this book because of how Braswell transforms the elements and characters that are already present into an amazing alternative story. After finishing this book, I think Disney has a great opportunity for a twisted tale. They did it with Cinderella a long time ago, but I think this could be very interesting. The ending could also lead to an extended series, or at least it makes you wonder about the adventure coming to the characters next.