Book Review

At Midnight

At Midnight

  • Author: Edited by Dahlia Adler
  • Genre: Fairytale Retellings
  • Publication Date: November 22, 2022
  • Publisher: Flatiron Books

Thank you to Young Adult Books Central (YABC) for sending me an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. You can find my original YABC review here.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

CONTENT WARNING: murder, blood, death of a child, racism, violence, homophobia, transphobia, abuse, death of a parent, grief, cannibalism

Fairy tales have been spun for thousands of years and remain among our most treasured stories. Weaving fresh tales with unexpected reimagining, At Midnight brings together a diverse group of celebrated YA writers to breathe new life into a storied tradition. You’ll discover…

Dahlia Adler reimagining “Rumplestiltskin,”

Tracy Deonn, “The Nightingale,”

H.E. Edgmon, “Snow White,”

Hafsah Faizal, “Little Red Riding Hood,”

Stacey Lee, “The Little Matchstick Girl,”

Roselle Lim, “Hansel and Gretel,”

Darcie Little Badger, “Puss in Boots,”

Malinda Lo, “Frau Trude,”

Alex London, “Cinderella,”

Anna-Marie McLemore, “The Nutcracker,”

Rebecca Podos, “The Robber Bridegroom,”

Rory Power, “Sleeping Beauty,”

Meredith Russo, “The Little Mermaid,”

Gita Trelease, “Fitcher’s Bird,”

and an all-new fairy tale by Melissa Albert.

Once upon a time …

Like most kids, I grew up on fairy tales, and loved them. I also grew up on the Disneyfied versions of these stories, where the villain is punished and everyone else lives happily ever after. It wasn’t until I was much older that I looked into the original stories and realized that they were much darker and were significantly more problematic. Obviously they were written centuries before our society, which is focused on inclusivity and avoiding these problematic terms. This anthology includes the original stories, and show the less happy endings and more problematic terms that were commonly used. However, the retellings were creative, diverse, and fascinating.

One of my major issues with the older stories is that they’re typically short and shallow, more fixated on sharing a moral that telling a story. The new stories allow us to get to know a character and get invested in their story, even if it’s relatively short. My biggest issue with the new stories is that I wanted them to be longer!

In a more creative spin on these traditional stories, we get to see the all white, heteronormative cast of characters replaced with a more diverse group of Mexican-American, Anglo-Indian, Chinese, Apache, Muslim, Black, LGBTQ, and even drag queen characters. It provides a new depth to not only the characters, but also the stories themselves. The situations have a different motivation, as characters come from across the socioeconomic spectrum, yet all have one thing in common—they’re fighting to express themselves and be who they are. 

The main elements of the stories are still there, yet they’re presented in a fresh way, making them more relatable to a new generation. While fairytales in their original form may have applied more to the children they were told to, modern children aren’t wandering around in forests—they’re dealing with modern pressures and prejudices. They aren’t living in places where everyone looks and thinks and worships like them, they live in diverse communities where prejudice and microaggressions are common, even coming across hate crimes frequently. These 15 stories are more suited to young people in today’s society, to young people who can see themselves in the pages of this book. 

I loved so many of these stories, and so many had me hanging on every word, my heart racing. It was even more tense because I didn’t necessarily know what was going to happen—the authors of the reworked fairy tales often switched around the ending and changed the bones of the story, keeping it even more suspenseful for the readers. This anthology was a timely, relevant, and intriguing new addition to the fairytale canon, and I think it has amazing potential to become a modern-day classic. My own personal favorites included In the Forests of the Night by Gita Trelease, Just a Little Bite by Roselle Lim, and A Story About a Girl by Rebecca Podos.

3 replies »

  1. Nice that these are being reimagined for a modern audience. I like that the story elements have in some cases been changed too o it’s not JUST a retelling, but a reimagining or whatever. Great review- this looks like fun and spooky read!

    Liked by 1 person

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