5 dark and mysterious tales from classic books and fairy tales

Liz Michalski’s new novel, darling girlis a dark and magical reimagining of the JM Barrie classic Peter Pan narrative. Read on for Liz’s favorite tales from classic books and fairy tales.

my novel darling girl used the bones of the original Peter Pan story to ask, “What would Peter and the Darling family look like today if the Boy Who Couldn’t Grow grew old?” And what would the magic of Neverland look like in our world?

I’ve always loved fairy tales, and as an adult I’ve been intrigued by others who take the stories we know so well and manage to give them a whole new feel. Here are some of my favorite dark fairy tale stories.

Snow, Glass, Apple by Neil Gaiman

Absolutely terrifying and deeply unsettling, this short story features a not-so-evil stepmother and a gripping plot that’s both shocking and so obvious you’ll wonder why you never thought of it yourself.

forest girl by Juliette Marillier

First of a series, this beautiful novel tells the Celtic myth of the wild swans. Sorcha is the seventh child in her family and the youngest beloved brother of six brothers. But when her father remarries an evil enchantress, only she can save her brothers from a terrible spell. What price will Sorcha pay for helping them?

We have always lived in the castle by Shirley Jackson

Not a narrative but with a fairy tale feeling all its own from the mistress of gothic horror, this slim book tells the story of an isolated, unusual and possibly murderous family, and what happens when an importunate cousin comes calling. Fans of the show The Haunting of Hill House will find much to enjoy here.

Uprooted by Naomi Novik

In an interview on his website, Novik says this story is loosely based on an old Polish fairy tale. It’s not one I’ve heard of, and my lack of familiarity made the book all the more intriguing. Agnieszka is a homebody who loves her little village and the nature that surrounds it. But a corrupted wood looms on the border, with the power to infect all that it holds dear. For protection, his people rely on The Dragon, a cold and abrupt wizard, to protect them. But his price is high: every ten years, a young woman from the village must come to serve him, a fate almost as terrible as falling in the Woods.

Note: Novik also has a magnificent Rumpelstiltskin narrative, silver spinning, which is sure to delight.

skin of the sea by Natasha Bowen

A Little Mermaid tell with a twist, skin of the sea is based on African myths. Simi once prayed to the gods. Now she serves them as Mami Wata, an aquatic servant, tasked with collecting the souls of those who die at sea and guiding them home. But when one of his proteges is thrown alive overboard, Simi does the unthinkable and defies the gods by saving his life.

To protect the other Mami Wata, Simi must go to the Supreme Creator to make amends. But all is not as it seems. There’s the boy she saved, who knows more than he should. And something is watching Simi, something that would rather see her fail. . . what is at stake is not just true love, but the fate of the whole world.

First in a series, I can’t wait to read the next one.


On darling girl by Liz Michalski:

Life is good for Holly Darling, Wendy’s granddaughter—yes, that Wendy. She runs a successful skincare business; her son, Jack, is happy and healthy; and the tragedy of her past is well behind her. . . until she receives a call informing her that her daughter, Eden, who has been in a coma for almost a decade, has disappeared from the estate where she has long been hidden. And, worst of all, Holly knows who must be responsible: Peter Pan, who is not only very real, but more dangerous than anyone could imagine.

Eden’s disappearance is a catastrophe in more ways than one. She suffers from a rare condition that causes her to age rapidly – ironic, considering her father is the boy who will never grow up – which also makes her blood incredibly valuable. It’s a secret Holly is desperate to protect, especially from Eden’s half-brother, Jack, who knows nothing about his sister or the crucial role she plays in his life. Holly has no one to turn to – her mother is the only other person in the world who knows Peter is more than a story, but she refuses to accept that he’s not the hero she always has conceived. Desperate, Holly enlists the help of notorious ex-soldier Christopher Cooke, hoping to save Eden before it’s too late. . . or she may lose her two children.

darling girl brings all the magic of the classic Peter Pan story to the present, while exploring the dark underpinnings of fairy tales, grief, aging, sacrifice, motherhood and how far we will go to protect those we love.

Learn more or order a copy

About Marcia G. Hussain

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