A Christmas Carol
by Charles Dickens
Back in the day, when the two Grimm brothers set out to collect and write down the folk tales that peasants told in the German countryside, they were kind of shocked at the for-adults-only nature of what they were finding (a fun Shmoop aside: did you know that in the original Sleeping Beauty story, she doesn't wake up when the prince kisses her? Or when he then rapes her? Or even when she gets pregnant with twins? And that she only finally wakes up when the babies are born and crawl up her body and start nursing? Yeah. Try to make a movie out of that, Disney.). Um, anyway, so the Grimms edited here and edited there, and eventually ended up with the safe, sentimental, and moralizing children's fairy tales we all know and love today.
Well, A Christmas Carol feels like an un-Grimmed fairy tale—a story with magical creatures and fantastical events, but one that is strictly for grown-ups, what with its main feature being a really strong sense of existential dread and a fear of other people. But hey, at least there's a happy ending.