Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Mythology VS Fairy Tales

So, after quite a bit of indecision and a poll and lots of people voting, the decision was made:  This week, I will discuss the two different retellings we come across most often - mythology and fairy tales.

If you know me, you know how I looooove mythology retellings.  Percy Jackson, much?  I could marry that guy.  I absolutely LOVE Greek Mythology to the core.  "Troy" recently became one of my favorite movies.  The Iliad is one of my favorite books ever.  Every Rick Riordan book I've ever read has blown me away with its awesomeness.  Everneath = purely amazing.

For one, you have the element of the many contesting gods and goddesses, who always bring something to the table.  They're always fighting and arguing...or sleeping around. HA!  But whatever they're doing, it pretty much means they're wreaking havoc some way or another, which always makes for a good story, right?

On top of the gods and goddesses, you have the heroes.  Mmmm gotta love those heroes!  I mean, really - who didn't cry when Hector was slain and whoop with triumph when Odysseus escaped the cyclops Polyphemus?  These are what stories are made of: heroes and their glorious, sad, wondrous accomplishments.

Plus, with mythology, not only do you have these two extremely amazing elements, but you also have the strange magic...  No, not magic.  Definitely powers.  Like the gods turning their daughters into trees, and heroes having massive strength.  It's amazing.  Purely, definitely amazing.

Really.  What's not to love?

Fairy Tales
While they may sound very similar, they are actually quite different.  Fairy tales are different from mythology because they represent creatures such as fairies and witches and wizards and forests.  While mythology consists more of gods, heroes, and mere men, fairy tales have a greater sense of the "good guy/bad guy" concept, and make much more out of villains.  I mean, who doesn't remember Maleficent and the evil stepmother and cower in fear?

But they're not all villains.  There are many many wonderful heroes and heroines who have inspired many readers for centuries.  Cinderella, the Little Mermaid, our friend "the servant" who ate the White Snake - they all have a story, a way of overcoming obstacles, no matter what.  They have courage (for the most part).  They rise above.  And I really really like that.

But what makes these tales special?  What sets them apart from your average contemporary or dystopian?  I'd say - Magic.  King Triton, the king of the mer people, and his opponent Ursula, both possess magic (well, in the Disney version they do...I actually haven't read the original story!).  When characters like these are put up against each other, the fights, the terror, the magnificence, the triumph - it's all quite terrific.  It's exciting and it makes you believe that somehow, some way, this all might be possible...that someday you'll meet the mermaid in the sea or discover a tower with a length of hair that has fallen from the window and stretches into the wind.

If this doesn't excite you, I don't know what will...

Retellings are pretty much 24/7 awesome.  They have all the elements of the original tales we all know and love, but with new twists.  And every one of them (well, almost every one of them) has something new to bring, because every mind is different and interprets things differently.  Whether it be that Elphaba was actually a misunderstood heroine or that Snow White kicked butt, something new is bound to come of each retelling.

So which one do I choose?  Which one do you choose?
I hadn't actually put much thought into this before this theme was chosen by my dear readers.  It was an idea, something to chew on, but I didn't actually chew on it until I sat down to write this.  I'd never thought about which type of retelling I preferred, so before today I could never have told you.

But today, I actually have discovered:  I have a preference.  And that is:  Mythology.  Now, don't get my wrong, I looooove a good fairy tale retelling.  Some are my favorite books ever.  But when I really look back at the fairy tale retellings I've read, I realize I prefer darker fairy tales.  I like the ones with lots of heartbreak (like the Inkbooks) and maybe a more depressing undertone (Everneath possibly falls into this category).  And mythology - well, it's pretty much always dark.  Whether you're looking at it from the "Troy" angle, The Iliad angle, or the Percy Jackson angle, there's usually something darkly intense going on.  And that, my friends, is what I prefer.

But what about you?  Which would you pick over the other?  Would you pick one over the other?  Share your thoughts in the comments!  I love to hear them!


  1. I kind of feel like mythology (like Greek mythology, for example) is the same thing as a fairy tale. Both are didactically written (myths with etiology and fairy tales with life lessons). If I had to pick, though, I would go with mythology as well, because those stories are typically something that people actually believed in at some point. Pretty cool. 

  2. I'm a fan of retellings of all kinds. My recent favourite is When You Were Mine by Rebecca Serle. Great post:)

  3. I CAN'T CHOOSE. At a first glance, I was going to go wholeheartedly with fairytales because I feel like I've known them longer, and my favourite book of all time (Kill Me Softly by Sarah Cross, which is DEFINITELY a darker book so I think you'll love it too, Sierra!) was a fairytale type book. But then I saw you mention Everneath and the cool goddesses and gods and the awesome powers of mythology, and I was tugged back to the middle of the tug-of-war! x)

    Both of them are amazing in their own ways, but I completely agree that ALL re-tellings of any kind are pure epicness!

    I loooooooooooove your VS posts, Sierra! And I love how you and me both talk like bubbly bookaholics, yet we both love the darker books too! Awesome, right? :') <3

  4. Gina @ My PreciousJune 5, 2012 at 3:51 PM

    Well, for all the reasons you lie mythology, I like fairy tales. I prefer the not so dark reads, the ones saturated with magical creatures, quests and happy-ever- after endings.

    I did do both a mythology challenge and a fairy tale retold challenge this year. I'm curios though, what makes you feel Everneath is mythology? It does not have Greek gods in it, right? The Underworld it speaks of is something entirely different, yes? Do yo think it would count towards the Mythology challenge sine the challenge is for ANY type of mythology??

  5. Very interesting point!  :D  I agree - that is very fascinating, the "history" that comes with Mythology.  Another great point! :D

    Thanks for the comment!

  6. I hadn't heard of When You Were Mine before - but OMG I totally added it the moment I read the synopsis!  Sounds excellent! :D

    Thanks! :D

  7. Ahahaha it is SO HARD!!  I totally understand!  I totally enjoyed Kill Me Softly - such a great story!  And yes, I think it was that darker undertone that made me love it like I did! :D

    It is such a hard decision! ;)  And yes!!!!!  I'm so glad you love my VS posts and that we totally are very very similar in the way we review and get all fangirly and still love dark books!  It's pretty much totally amazing ;)

  8. Those happily-ever-after endings really are the best sometimes! :D

    Everneath is actually a retelling of the Hades/Persephone myth, set in a contemporary world.  I suppose it wouldn't be super obvious by just reading the synopsis on Goodreads, but once you delve into the story it's very similar.  The whole going back and forth between the real world and Underworld, pledging herself (possibly) to Cole...etc...  Anyways, it has its differences, but that's what makes it a retelling!  It's brilliant - so you should definitely read it!  If you would like, here is my review:  http://yearningtoread.blogspot.com/2012/01/review-everneath-by-brodi-ashton.html  And the Underworld, speaks of Hades' presence in the underworld and ferrying souls, but this one is a little bit different because they're doing other things to people...but you'll have to read it to find out! ;)

    And I'm sure if they didn't specify what kind of mythology then surely you can read any kind...Definitely!

    Thanks for the comment, Gina! :D

  9. I have to go with fairy tales, for the same reason as Gina.  I want a happily ever after.  Fairy tales can get really dark, but they're ultimately about good triumphing and evil getting it's just desserts.  With mythology, that's not guaranteed, and I feel like there's a lot of the wrong god being in the wrong mood at the wrong time, and then it's game over.

  10. It's so true, Caitlen!  I do agree - wrong wrong wrong! ;) lol

    Thanks for your input!