Hey Sarah! I figured I’d ask you since you’re the expert, but what are some good fairy tale retelling books? Any fairy tale is fine!

I’m going to give you a few links instead of listing them, if that’s okay? I know of so many and it would take ages to type them all out.

My Fairy Tale Retellings Tag

My Fairy Tale Retellings Shelf on Goodreads (There are 55 books here and counting.)

My First Friday Fairy Tales Reading List (Beauty and the Beast only, but I’ll add more tales each month.)

Hopefully this will get you started!


So I have a question in regards to blogs hating on SJM, and it’s not anything you’ve said because I know you aren’t a fan anymore but I still love your blog, but why do people spend so much time blogging about how much they hate the series. Like there are entire blogs hating on ACOTAR and TOG series and if you hate something so much why put yourself into the conversation and not just let it go?

I understand the confusion, and I won’t say I know what every individual’s reasoning is. I know that some people really just need somewhere to vent. Just like books we love can help us process the world, so can books we dislike give us a way to vent about real-world frustrations. As long as they tag everything properly (every one that I’ve seen does), then it’s no harm to anyone else. I’m pretty much a “live and let live” person, so people can do whatever they want as long as they don’t directly come after individuals (and again, this doesn’t really happen). 

Sarah Reads: Wildwood Dancing


Wildwood Dancing by Juliet Marillier

High in the Transylvanian woods, at the castle Piscul Draculi, live five daughters and their doting father. It’s an idyllic life for Jena, the second eldest, who spends her time exploring the mysterious forest with her constant companion, a most unusual frog. But best by far is the castle’s hidden portal, known only to the sisters. Every Full Moon, they alone can pass through it into the enchanted world of the Other Kingdom. There they dance through the night with the fey creatures of this magical realm.

But their peace is shattered when Father falls ill and must go to the southern parts to recover, for that is when cousin Cezar arrives. Though he’s there to help the girls survive the brutal winter, Jena suspects he has darker motives in store. Meanwhile, Jena’s sister has fallen in love with a dangerous creature of the Other Kingdom–an impossible union it’s up to Jena to stop.

When Cezar’s grip of power begins to tighten, at stake is everything Jena loves: her home, her family, and the Other Kingdom she has come to cherish. To save her world, Jena will be tested in ways she can’t imagine–tests of trust, strength, and true love.


Date Started: July 20th, 2017

Acquired: Purchased at Half Price Books’ $1 Sale!

Why I Picked it Up: It’s been on my TBR for years, but I didn’t have a lot of interest in Transylvania or Eastern Europe in general until the past year or so. Now I’m like, all about it. I’ve also read this author’s books before (Daughter of the Forest, which I loved, and Shadowfell, which I also really enjoyed). She’s one of my top fave tale retellers and “The Twelve Dancing Princesses” is a wonderful tale, so I knew I was going to pick this one up eventually.

Why I Kept Reading: I had actually forgotten until I picked it up that it was set in Transylvania, so I got extra excited to continue! This is not only because of my friend @elenalanstova-morozova, but because my own book, Unrooted, has a lot of inspiration from the Romanian language and aesthetic, as well! I enjoy Jena as a narrator and Marillier’s prose is as graceful as I remember, so I think I’m going to like the rest of this!

See My Review Here!

Oh my gosh! I just finished Uprooted and everything about it was so so good! I love Kasia and Agnieszka so much, and the whole thing with the queen was so intense! Thank you so much for convincing me to read it!

Oh yes, their friendship was so very good! I wish we’d gotten a little more personality from Kasia in the later half of the book, but I really loved the end of her story. ❤ Please, let’s continue to talk about this book because I just want to write meta on it all day!

Hi Sarah. I really appreciate your opinions about the ACOTAR series, particularly ACOWAR. The first time I read the book, I really enjoyed it, but now, after reading your posts and posts written by others, I can see the problems inherent in the novel. I’d love to discuss it more with you if you’re willing. Have a great day–Rachel

Hey there! I’m right with you on that. I really enjoyed both ACOTAR and ACOMAF, and even though I thought I was being a critical reader, time and conversation with others showed me I was still a bit blinded by fandom. I don’t want to ruin things for anyone, but I’m sad to say I’ve fallen off the bandwagon. I’ve laid off sharing as many posts about it because the emotional energy was just a lot, and I’d rather focus on promoting my own work and other books, but if you’d like to DM me about it, you’re more than welcome to! 


this new trend of “what if the bad guys won” as the plot of upcoming tv shows is so…. transparent in a way because it truly feels like it’s less about exploring the possibility of an alternative reality and more about white supremacists rewriting history to turn their defeats into victories in order to make their racist fantasies come to life but das just my hot take and i don’t watch tv so

I was thinking exactly the same thing! Alternate histories should either be satire or focus on truly upending present social structures and institutions. A world where slavery still exists offers no new take–it just intensifies existing norms. A world in which the Confederates won? That’s not alternate history, that’s the American South (Reconstruction, anyone?). And as OP implied, these recent shows only further empower people already in power. They offer nothing but destructive fantasies which come at the expense of oppressed people throughout history.


The Making of Cinderella’s Dress

The dress was created of many layers of gossamer weight fabric, hand-painted in watercolor shades of pale blue, turquoise, lilac, lavender and white. The dress used over 10,000 Swarovski crystals and 500 hours to complete with 20 tailors working. Sewn with four miles of thread, the dress seems to move effortlessly, float gracefully with every step the Princess takes. The many shades of color and near weightless layers give the dress depth and richness of color that billow out from beneath the top layer of fine silk.






I don’t think anyone’s brought this up before, so I’d like to mention the demonization of Amarantha not only as a woman who is fully aware of her sexuality and uses it as a weapon, BUT ALSO as a tool to demonize wlw.

Here goes.

This whole argument centers around a nightmare Feyre has in ACOMAF. I’ll quote the passage in full (from pages 184-185 of the regular Bloomsbury edition of A Court of Mist and Fury:

I tumbled into a sleep so heavy my dreams were an undertow that dragged me down, down, down until I couldn’t escape them.

I lay naked and prone on a familiar red marble floor while Amarantha slid a knife along my bare ribs, the steel scraping softly against my skin. “Lying, traitorous human,” she purred, “with your filthy, lying heart.”

The knife scratched, a cool caress. I struggled to get up, but my body wouldn’t work.

She pressed a kiss to the hollow of my throat. “You’re as much a monster as me.” She curved the knife over my breast, angling it toward my peaked nipple, as if she could see the heart beating beneath. I started sobbing. “Don’t waste your tears.”

Someone far away was roaring my name – begging for me.

“I’m going to make eternity a hell for you,” she promised, the tip of the dagger piercing the sensitive flesh beneath my breast, her lips hovering a breath above mine as she pushed – [end quote]

And then it cuts off as Rhys wakes Feyre up from her nightmare.

The first time – and the subsequent times – I’ve read this scene, it bothers me. A LOT. It’s clearly sexual, from Feyre being naked to the focus on her breasts to Amarantha nearly kissing her in that last paragraph.

This is what bothers me:  there’s lots of sexual content in these books. I know that. Lots and lots. But this is the only time there’s anything remotely like sexual content between two women (everything Mor says in ACOWAR seems rather strangely… desexualized) and not only is it assault, there’s no reason for it.

We already know Amarantha used her sexuality in a way that is wrong. Like Ianthe. I believe the term @valamerys uses is Evil Evil Sluts Who Want to Steal Your Boyfriend. But to me, this is on another level. Amarantha never hurt Feyre sexually – just in physical ways, and emotional/psychological ways. To me, there was no reason to make this dream so dripping with… sex. To me, it becomes an association of “two women in a sexual context” with “horrific torture and assault.” This is very different to the way f/m sexuality is portrayed throughout the series. Only a select few (Ianthe and Amarantha, the twins in ACOWAR though OH WAIT IT’S IMPLIED THAT AT LEAST ONE OF THEM ISN’T STRAIGHT) use their sexuality in ways that are wrong. There’s a lot of sex scenes, all f/m (as Feyre is the narrator and she’s presumably straight), all portrayed in a pretty positive light. Even the scenes that border on sexual assault – the one after Calanmai in ACOTAR, the kiss with Rhys Under the Mountain at the end of ACOTAR – are, in my view, portrayed more positively.

And yet here is the only example of two women in a sexual context, and it’s… this.

Does this mean that Feyre associates women having sex with each other with torture? Does it mean that SJM herself does? It doesn’t matter. What matters is that this is the ONLY depiction of wlw (sort of) sexuality in the entire series that has a focus on sex, and it’s framed as torture.

And this shouldn’t need to be said, but that’s not okay.

This is basically the demonization of sex between women, something really common in fiction in my opinion. Sometimes in movies Evil Women™ are attracted to other women, or have sex with them for pleasure. No feelings attached, just sex. Women who like women are evil!! Two women can’t be in love and have a healthy relationship, how dare you think that?

SJM, as the ignorant straight woman she is (because she clearly has no idea of what a relationship between two women is), perpetuates those stereotypes in her writing.

Her stans probably think she means well and I’m not saying she is trying to demonize all sapphic women, but it’s very obvious that she doesn’t really care about wlw so this isn’t a big deal for her. 

Depictions of wlw in media are rare and usually not positive. So yeah, she probably didn’t want to hurt wlw, but this is still a bad stereotype that should die.

Oh, and I would like it if she stopped writing unnecessary scenes that involve sexual assault.

Im also not happy her two women in power–amarantha and iantha–conflate taking power from men (they have their own authority outside of men) and the rape of men. It creates this parallel of taking power from men and taking sexual power from them. Like, iantha and amarantha are so gross and perverse in the books’ world because they somehow have taken authority away from men AND rape men. They’ve totally turned the world order on its head and they’re monsters for it. Theyre othered (iantha and amarantha) and i hate it.

Especially when we have an abusive high lord beating his wife and everyone rolls their eyes like it’s just a bad habit.

Amarantha is intented to be a monster, but Ianthe had such potential to be used for showing how an oppressed woman searches for ways to receive any power she can get. Even if she has to seduce men for that. What shall she do, if all power derives from men in her world? Notice that unlike Mor, Amren and Feyre, our women in power, Ianthe doesn’t have magical powers to set her apart from the roles laid out for Prythian women. She chooses religion and having children as her means, rather tradition ones, but the books turn her try to gain power against her, demonizing seduction by making Ianthe a rapist.

And at some point, this becomes hypocritical as Feyre only becomes so important because two powerful men are interested in her to begin with. Feyre suceeds at winning a man’s favor where Ianthe doesn’t, and that’s why I should hate her? Please. Let a woman be a villain without making it about sex.

There are so many layers of internalised misogyny surrounding Ianthe and Amarantha that I genuinely don’t know how to unpick it. The thing that I’ve noticed, other than the obvious conflation of women who dominant also being perverse, is the way that women are utterly punished for sexual transgression and abuse, in comparison to the men that perpetrate the same crimes getting off with little or no reprecussions. It’s seen in the fact that, although both men and women have engaged in non-consensual behaviour in this series, only the women are branded as rapists by the plot.

Like, ACOWAR squicked me out so much, because in the same book that we have the rehabilitation of and depiction of positive, heroic traits in (at least) two male abusers, Tamlin and Eris, (I say at least because I also think that Mor’s father is forgiven to some extent ‘out of necessity’), we also have a scene where Feyre gleefully smashes Ianthe’s hand to smithereens and feeds her to the Weaver without a second thought.

Men are forgiven for sexual assault, or their past indiscretions are discretely swept under the rug, often because the plot demands it (’we have no other choice’, ‘we need allies’, Tamlin did a selfless thing so everything is fine). Meanwhile Amarantha is skewered against a wall, and Ianthe is depicted in two brutally violent revenge scenes. They are being punished for their sexual abuse in a way no other male character has been in these series. This is despite, arguably, Ianthe potentially being a ‘valuable asset’ in the war against Hyburn in book three for all the reasons listed above, thus having the potential for a squicky ‘needs must’ narrative if that’s the way SJM decides to treat every other male abuser. Even if you perhaps think that Tamlin was demonised for plot purposes, Mor’s dad and Eris are the ones responsible for her literally having her womb skewered, and they forcibly become her allies with little or no ramifications placed on their past actions. And Eris is depicted sympathetically. I’m obviously not excusing the sexual assault perpetrated by Ianthe or Amarantha, but the double standards retroactively applied to sexual assault by male vs female characters are just weird. It really really creeps me out.

I genuinely don’t know what’s behind it – does SJM think it’s more acceptable or ‘normal’ for men to perpetrate sexual assault, and therefore it’s more forgivable? I don’t know – it does fit with the conception of fae men as subject to their ‘instincts’, whereas the women who forcibly become sexually dominant seem to subvert the natural order and become monstrous. All I know is that the moment a woman in these books has sexual power that takes dominance and power away from men, they automatically become liable for the harshest, most graphic punishments in the books, and have to be utterly demonised and violently excised from the plot, because somehow their sexual assault is more perverse, wrong and ‘unforgivable’ than that performed by men.

Okay so I read the Tower of Dawn summary, and it sounds like there might be a love triangle between Chaol, Nesryn and Yrene. Seriously? I personally think it’s extremely unnecessary, and I was wondering your thoughts on it.

You know, some people have tropes they love and tropes they hate. I will never ture of the “lover thought dead returns to life” trope. The trope I’d rather kill with a machete is the love triangle. So yeah, I would agree that it seems really unnecessary.

Chaol used to be a fave of mine but I honestly don’t think I can deal with this series anymore.