Fairy Tales for Adults
Romance, fantasy, and mystery are in the top five selling genres of books (horror and inspirational books round out the list). So it’s not a surprise that fairy tales, which have elements of all of those, are perennial favorites. After all, there’s a lot to love about a story with acts of magic, feats of bravery and courage, and good triumphing over evil for a Happily Ever After. If you enjoy Disney movies and Harry Potter, try one of these half-dozen fairy tales for grown-ups.
“Fairy tales are more than true: not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten,” Neil Gaiman.
Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. This gorgeous book about two magicians originally started off as a NaNoWriMo project. It’s a tale about magicians Celia and Marco, who’ve trained their entire lives, using magic to battle one another. Their competition is fierce and then they fall in love. The courtship that follows is fanciful and fun as they strive to create more and more fantastical illusions.
Paper Magician by Charlie Holmberg. Magician Ceony Twill hopes that her magical studies will include something powerful like metal working. She’s disappointed when instead, she’s sent to study with Emery Thane, a paper magician. Despite her disappointment, Ceony finds herself drawn to the magical origami that Emery performs and to the magician himself.
Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke. If you’ve been enjoying the BBC adaptation of this, consider reading the book. Jonathan Strange is handsome, charming, and talkative, the very opposite of Mr. Norrell. Astonished to find another practicing magician in early 1800s England, Mr. Norrell accepts Strange as a pupil. Eventually, Strange‘s heedless pursuit of long-forgotten magic threatens to destroy not only his partnership with Norrell, but everything he holds dear
Book of Speculation by Erika Swyler. In this debut novel, Simon Watson, a young librarian on the verge of losing his job, lives alone on the Long Island Sound in his family home–a house, perched on the edge of a bluff, that is slowly crumbling toward the sea. On a day in late June, Simon receives a mysterious package from an antiquarian bookseller. The book tells the story of Amos and Evangeline, doomed lovers who lived and worked in a traveling circus more than two hundred years ago.
Shades of Milk and Honey by Mary Robinette Kowal. In a Jane Austen-inspired alternate universe, two sisters, one beautiful and the other skilled in the glamour arts, test the limits of their gifts on an unscrupulous suitor.
A Natural History of Dragons: A Memoir by Lady Trent by Marie Brennan. Super fun fantasy of manners! Isabella, Lady Trent, known as the world’s preeminent dragon naturalist, writes her memoir detailing how she sought true love and happiness despite her lamentable eccentricities; and of her thrilling expedition to the perilous mountains of Vystrana, where she made the first of many historic dragon discoveries that would change the world forever.