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While classical fairy tales do not portray much depth of suffering, many contemporary fairy-tale retellings explore trauma and its aftermath in great detail. This article analyzes depictions of trauma in fairy tales, utilizing as a primary case study the “Beauty and the Beast” retelling A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas, arguing that this text provides a scientifically accurate representation of trauma and its aftermath, thereby articulating the real in fairy tales. Further, this article classifies that work as not simply a “dark” fairy tale (a contentious term that invites rethinking) but rather as fairy-tale torture porn, in a nod to the horror genre that foregrounds torture, surveillance, and the disruption of bodily boundaries and safety. However, the text’s optimistic account of healing is uniquely relevant in a time of widespread trauma due to a global pandemic, thereby demonstrating that fairy tales remain germane in contemporary contexts.


Originally published by Humanities under a Creative Commons 4.0 in Humanities, 2021, Volume 10, Issue 1. DOI: 10.3390/h10010047.