These short fairy tales for adults are retellings, reimaginings, or reinterpretations of fairy tales, aimed at an older audience. See also:
Short Fairy Tales for Adults
“Baba Iaga and the Pelican Child” by Joy Williams
Baba Iaga has a pelican daughter, as well as a dog and cat, and they all live in a little hut. The hut has chicken legs that turn the door away from visitors, as they like to be left alone. When Baba Iaga has to go out, she warns everyone not to let any strangers in. One day while she’s away, a man approaches the hut, saying he’s an artist and wants to draw the beautiful bird who lives there.
This story can be read in the preview of My Mother She Killed Me, My Father He Ate Me: Forty New Fairy Tales. (33% in)
“Ardour” by Jonathon Keats
When there was still a winter, peasants would always see a girl, who they came to call Ardour. As they warmed themselves at a fire, they would feel her watching. They would try to entice her to come near, but she kept some distance. Eventually, she witnessed something that changed her mind, and she came a little closer.
This story can be read in the preview of My Mother She Killed Me, My Father He Ate Me: Forty New Fairy Tales. (44% in)
“As Red As Blood, As White As Snow” by Christina Henry
The visiting prince, whose manners have earned him the nickname of “Prince Charming”, proposes to Princess Snow. Everyone is unusually captivated by the prince—but Snow isn’t. She’s afraid and feels a strong aversion to him. Refusing the proposal, though, would mean war and suffering for her people.
This story can be read in the preview of Cursed: An Anthology. (26% in)
“Ruby Slippers” by Susan Wade
A Hollywood star is interviewed about her career. She made a big entrance; her house crushed an old witch. Prior to that, she lived with her aunt after her mother died. She had to work in the field and wear awful wooden shoes. Now, she’s really happy with her sparkly ruby shoes, given to her by a woman who looked like a guardian angel. She was introduced to an agent, Ozzie, who got her into the studio system.
This story can be read in the preview of Ruby Slippers, Golden Tears. (30% in)
“The Beast” by Tanith Lee
A man visits Vessavion, a handsome, reclusive man who collects exquisite things. He sees some of his possessions, including a beautiful necklace that he wants for his daughter, Isobel. He leaves a note for Vessavion, telling him about an item of his own, an African Bible. Soon after, Vessavion extends an invitation, expressing interest in seeing the Bible, as well as Isobel.
This story can also be read in the above preview of Ruby Slippers, Golden Tears. (45% in)
Short Fairy Tales for Adults, Cont’d
“The Flounder’s Kiss” by Michael Cadnum
A fisherman eats what he catches, but his wife isn’t satisfied; she wants him to catch something better. She says ocean sea fishing is where the best catches are, so he buys a small boat. One night, after catching nothing, he makes one more cast before quitting. It pays off, as he hauls in a big flounder.
This story can be read in the preview of Black Swan, White Raven. (31% in)
“The Black Fairy’s Curse” by Karen Joy Fowler
A woman is being chased but she’s unconstrained and strong, so now one will catch her. Next, she’s riding a fast horse through the night. She covers the countryside, farmland, past cottages, by a river and finally, into a grove of trees. She climbs one of them easily.
This story can also be read in the above preview of Black Swan, White Raven. (49% in)
“The She-Wolf” by Barbara Walker
Lupa and her father live in a wretched hut and barely get by. Their main source of food is their cow which produces milk, butter and cheese. When the cow dies, their situation becomes dire. Lupa’s father decides to sell some things he had wanted to keep. (Summary)
“The She-Wolf” is the first story in the Amazon preview of Feminist Fairy Tales.
“Unpopular Gals” by Margaret Atwood
Three women you might recognize tell their side of the story. They know from painful experience that life isn’t fair, and they feel they’ve been misrepresented.
This story can be read in the preview of Good Bones and Simple Murders. (65% in Kindle preview)
“Princess Mammalia” by Roald Dahl
Princess Mammalia is a plain girl until her seventeenth birthday when she suddenly becomes beautiful—the most beautiful girl in the realm. With her newfound beauty comes power. She gradually uses it more and more.
“The Wife’s Story” by Ursula K. Le Guin
A wife tells the story of her husband. He was a good husband and father, a hard worker, well liked and respected. Something happened that she can’t believe. She saw it happen with her own eyes and still can’t believe it. Everyone says it was because of the moon and the blood.
I’ll keep adding short fairy tales for adults as I find them.