Guest Post: Jennifer Donnelly, Poisoned.

So, guess what, today we all get a break from me chatting what is probably mostly nonsense about books, and instead get somebody else talking some actual sense - still about books, obvs.

As part of her Blog Tour for her recent release Poisoned - a YA feminist retelling of Snow White - I've got the lovely Jennifer Donnelly here to talk about her favourite YA retellings, which obviously I am 100% here for; I love a good fairy tale retelling and there's a couple that Jennifer mentions that are going straight on my TBR. They should probs go straight on yours too - as should Poisoned: if you're in the mood for a lightweight fantasy, slightly more Grimm than Disney that feels familiar yet different and is full of clockwork hearts and Black Forest gateau making spiders, then this is your book. 

Anyhow, enough of me, this is Jennifer's post....

Your Top YA Retellings  

I love Melissa Albert’s work. I’m reading The Night Country right now – the second in her Hazel Wood series. She is such a beautiful writer, so evocative. Also reading Ash by Malinda Ko. I’m not very far in yet, but I’m already hooked. I love how Brigid Kemmerer’s A Curse So Dark and Lonely takes a main character who would traditionally be labeled “disabled” and portrays her as a superhero. I have two new ones in my TBR pile, too – Never Look Back my Lilliam Rivera and Cinderella is Dead by Kalynn Bayron.


To veer out of the YA world for a minute…I love Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke so much. It’s not a fairy tale, or a retelling, but it has very scary fairies, so I’ll take a liberty and list it here as a favorite.


I don’t categorize most of Angela Carter’s or Jeanette Winterson’s work as YA either, but both use or retell fairy tales in their stories, and I consider them my own literary fairy-tale godmothers, so I must mention them, too. Their books completely rocked my world. I discovered both of these extraordinary writers in my twenties, and I can’t imagine not having had their stories in my life. They’re a part of my DNA now, as a writer and as a person.


Carter and Winterson made me see that fairy tales aren’t cold, dead things, stiff with rigor, entombed for all time. They’re living, breathing entities that change, evolve, and adapt as we human beings do. These two authors took the old tales out of their locked, dusty trunks and let them run loose in the modern world. Their interpretations gave us new, feminist perspectives. They allowed their female characters to voice their thoughts and opinions. To be contradictory. To defy the accepted narratives and change their outcomes. Plus they’re both just such damn good writers. They make me catch my breath at the ideas and images they conjure, some beautiful, some dire. Their stories were revolutionary to me when I was younger. Absolutely world-changing. And they still are.   

Thanks Jennifer - I have to say I absolutely agree about Angela Carter and Jeanette Winterson; I am such a huge fan of Angela Carter's Book of Fairytales.

Poisoned was published this week by Hot Key Books and you can get a copy at any of the places books are sold.