‘At Midnight’ Reimagines the Classics for New Readers

At Midnight brings together some of YA’s best authors to spin new takes on fairy tale classics.

At Midnight is a collection of fairy tales both well known and not as familiar to readers, retold in diverse and modern settings without losing the magic one thinks of when hearing the term “fairy tale.” Each of the fifteen stories are written by a different author, giving each a chance to showcase their voices, including Dahlia Adler, who edited the collection and wrote the reimagining of “Rumpelstiltskin.” 

The tales being retold in At Midnight benefit from more modern settings, better allowing diversity to be explored. Readers can look at these stories through new lenses, and experience them through different cultures. For example, the story inspired by The Fitcher’s Bird takes place in India, and Puss in Boots becomes a coyote who recognizes and respects the indigenous roots of the human boy she helps. With these new and more updated settings, you can sometimes be led to question the validity or realness of the magic taking place, sometimes wondering if it is more of a sense of magical realism than use of fantasy. Not every short story uses magic, making each chapter unique and taking place in their own world.

Part of the modern take on these timeless stories is the inclusion of LGBTQ+ themes, particularly in the tale of Snow White. “Mirror Mirror” by H. E. Edgmon is a unique retelling, reimagining the titular character as a transgender boy who wishes to go by Hunter, seeking acceptance from his online friends when he can’t find it from his vain mother who views him more as an opportunity to live vicariously through her “daughter” than as her child. While not one of the more magical retellings, “Mirror Mirror” uses this twist in an excellent way, giving the classic tale a unique spin that is sure to resonate with readers going through a similar experience.

Alongside the popular stories such as Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, and Little Mermaid, there are some tales that may not be as well known such as The Fitcher’s Bird, Puss in Boots, and the Little Matchstick Girl. While these titles may be familiar to readers, it’s also true that their tales do not get the same kind of limelight as the princesses and their Prince Charmings. This collection gives these lesser known stories a chance to shine. Among the reimaginings is a new fairy tale by Melissa Albert. While not a retelling of any one classic tale, her story “The Sister Switch” has several nods to and is influenced by many of the tales we all know and love.

At Midnight is yet another addition to the tradition of keeping these well-loved stories alive and it does so with fresh ideas and offers new ways for people to relate to them.

At Midnight, edited by Dahlia Adler and with contributions from renowned YA authors Tracy Deonn, Hafsah Faizal, Melissa Albert, and many more is available for purchase at your local independent bookstore or wherever fine books are sold.

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