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Modern Fiction & The Fairy Tale

A love affair.

Fairy tales, folklore and legends have been around since the dawn of time. Developed as a way of telling the stories of human behavior, these tales are repeated over and over again. They have seeped into our proverbial bloodstream and become a part of our moral compass. The stories may change with perhaps a different place in time, tone, character or location, but the backbone of the message usually remains the same.

Whether it’s an evil witch looking to pervert the innocence of a young princess, a dark woodland full of unsavory characters that one must pass through, or an inkling that someone with an ulterior motive is pulling the strings without public knowledge, fairy tales strike a chord with young and old alike.

This makes it no surprise that modern fiction is embracing the use of the storybook storyline in order to create something new from something old.

And readers are loving it.

Boiled down, fairy tales are usually not very long, which is what makes it so attractive to modern writers. They are able to take this theme, if you will, and use it as a pattern with which to base their modern story. It is a foundation of sorts, in which an author can build an enormously creative and functional house upon.

Our very own Sierra Kay finds the use of fairy tales to be quite addicting.

Almost all of her books are written with the underlying theme of fairy tales and folklore. But wait, you say, isn’t she a thriller writer? At first thought, this may sound strange, as though a thriller novel couldn’t possibly be aligned with the same stuff as singing animals, beautiful ballgowns and enormous castles. However, beyond the idealistic images, there is darkness and trial - just like life.

“It’s interesting when you peel back the layers of fairy tales. They aren’t fun. We’re children sitting at our parents' knees listening to stories about witches that boil children. They’re dark. So they lend themselves to mystery, suspense, and psychological thrillers,” Sierra said.

“The Brothers Grimm are the most popular. That could be due to Disney though. Clearly, I’m not the first person to convert these stories. However, when you dig deeper and learn, some versions don’t have a happy ending. Take Sleeping Beauty, in one version, the prince’s mother was an ogre that wanted to eat her grandchildren. Evil grandmother preying on young children is definitely a theme that I explored in At The Touch of Love.

This juxtaposition is what makes fairy tales in general so captivating. The author will put a normally virtuous character into an impossible situation - seeing how she manages to get out or even if she gets out is what keeps us reading. And when the folklorish themes are recognized along the way, it enriches the reader’s experience. It’s familiar, yet new - and there is something utterly comforting and exhilarating about the journey. The reader subconsciously thinks, “Okay, I sense the familiar, but how is she handling it this time?”

From the deep dark Black Forest of Germany to the high rises of Chicago, from the Land of Oz to the suburbs of Atlanta, Sierra Kay takes what is old and makes it new again. Dark, edgy, and sometimes twisted, the modern fairy tale is alive and well in the house that Kay built.

Follow Sierra Kay down the modern fairy tale rabbit hole by visiting her book library here.

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