11 YA Fairy Tale Retellings That Are Way More Relatable Than The Original Stories
You already know that fairy tale retellings have been a part of storytelling culture for thousands of years. When you think of the genre, you might immediately land on The Brothers Grimm or Hans Christian Andersen or even Walt Disney, the keepers of eternal classics like Cinderella, The Little Mermaid, Snow White, Beauty and the Beast and so many more. But none of these renditions would necessarily be called forward-thinking by today's standards. And while there is certainly nothing wrong with fawning over your favorite Disney princesses, there are definitely new and exciting takes on these tales.
If you've fallen in love with diverse, queer and feminist fairytale retelling like Bustle's Book Club pick, Ash by Malindo Lo, you're probably in the mood to pick up more of the same. I've got you covered with the 13 books below. Some are brand new 2019 releases, others are recent favorites in the queer retelling sector, while still others feature equally strong and diverse casts of characters, all wrapped up in a retold fairytale world. Whether you're looking for genderbent Robin Hood, queer Prince & the Pauper, or a Latinx version of Snow White, you'll find it and so many more magical stories below:
'A Curse So Dark and Lonely' by Brigid Kemmerer
This Beauty and the Beast retelling follows Prince Rhen, cursed into a beast by a powerful enchantress, and Harper, a teenage girl who might be able to save him. But powerful forces are standing against Emberfall, and it will take more than a broken curse to save them from utter ruin.
'The Princess and the Fangirl' by Ashley Poston
This queer retelling of The Prince & the Pauper follows Starfield fangirl Imogen Lovelace and actress Jessica Stone, who plays Princess Amara in the Starfield films. When a script leaks and everything blames Jessica, the two join forces to clear her name.
'Sherwood' by Meagan Spooner
This Robin Hood retelling from the perspective of Maid Marian opens after Robin of Locksley's death. Maid Marian doesn’t know how she’ll go on, but the people of Locksley town, persecuted by the Sheriff of Nottingham, need a protector. Marian never meant to tread in Robin’s footsteps, but now she'll make the choice to become her own hero.
'Blanca & Roja' by Anna-Marie McLemore
Anna-Marie McLemore's Latinx retelling of Snow White meets Swan Lake follows the del Cisne girls, Blanca and Roja, as they grapple with a generations-old spell that will pull them into a dangerous game that will leave one of them a girl, and trap the other in the body of a swan.
'A Blade So Black' by L.L. McKinney
This Alice in Wonderland retelling follows Alice, trained to battle monstrous creatures in the dark realm known as Wonderland. When Alice's mentor is poisoned, she has to find the antidote by venturing deeper into Wonderland than she’s ever gone before. And she'll need to use everything she's learned to keep from losing her head... literally.
'The Seafarer's Kiss' by Julia Ember
Julia Ember's queer Little Mermaid retelling follows 19-year-old mermaid Ersel, who falls in love with the human Ragna. When Ersel’s childhood friend catches them together, Ersel seeks help from Loki. But the outcome sees her exiled from the only home she’s known. To save herself and be reunited with Ragna, Ersel must try to outsmart the God of Lies.
'Forest of a Thousand Lanterns' by Julie C. Dao
In this East Asian reimagining of The Snow Queen, the stars say 18-year-old Xifeng is meant to be Empress of Feng Lu. But only if she embraces the darkness within her. Xifeng longs to fulfill the destiny promised to her by her cruel aunt, the witch Guma, who has read the cards and seen glimmers of Xifeng's majestic future. But is the price of the throne too high?
'Stepsister' by Jennifer Donnelly
Isabelle isn’t the beautiful girl who lost the glass slipper and captured the prince’s heart. She’s the stepsister who’s cut off her toes to fit into Cinderella’s shoe. When the prince discovers Isabelle’s deception, she is turned away in shame. Now she has a chance to alter her destiny and prove that it takes more than heartache to break a girl.
'No Place Like Here' by Christina June
This contemporary, inspired by Hansel & Gretel, follows Ashlyn Zanotti after Ashlyn’s father is arrested for tax evasion, and her life is turned upside down. The cherry on top? Ashlyn’s father sends her to work at a rustic team-building retreat center in the middle of nowhere. Now she must make the toughest decision of her life: follow her dad’s orders, or find the courage to finally stand up for herself.
'Spin the Dawn' by Elizabeth Lim (July 9)
This Mulan reimagining follows Maia Tamarin, who dreams of becoming the greatest tailor in the land. But as a girl, the best she can hope for is to marry well. When a royal messenger summons her ailing father, once a tailor of renown, to court, Maia poses as a boy and takes his place. There's just one catch: Maia is one of 12 tailors vying for the job.
'House of Salt and Sorrows' by Erin A. Craig (Aug. 6)
In this story inspired by the Brothers Grimm tale The Twelve Dancing Princesses, Annaleigh lives a sheltered life at Highmoor, a manor by the sea, with her family. Once they were twelve sisters, but four of the girls' lives have been cut short. Now, it's a race to unravel the darkness that has fallen over her family — before it claims her next.