9 YA Retellings Out In 2017 That Breathe New Life Into The Fairytales & Classics
It's often said that we've run out of new ideas. Every television show is a reboot, every movie is a sequel. But if the popularity of fairy tale retellings in literature show us anything, its that everything old is new again. Young Adult authors have long turned to beloved stories, fairy tales and folklore to create their own worlds, adding spins like fae magic and warriors (in the case of Sarah J. Maas's A Court of Thorns and Roses which is a loose Beauty & the Beast retelling) or putting classic stories in entirely new settings (like Marissa Meyer's beloved Lunar Chronicles series, which takes fairytales and turns them sci-fi.)
2017 has its own fair share of new re-imaginings and retellings hitting the shelves. Some find fantasy inspiration from magic and folklore and fairy stories, while others take the classic lit you studied in high school (like Jane Austen and good ol' William Shakespeare) and take their characters into our modern world...with all of our modern concerns, too. These 9 books below are just some of the re-imagined tales you'll want to be adding to your TBR this year. There's a little something for everyone: mystical magic, star-crossed romance, and tons of smart, strong, fierce female main characters. We're taking back the narrative, one retelling at a time.
1. 'Seeking Mansfield' by Kate Watson (May 16, 2017)
This modern retelling of Jane Austen's Mansfield Park follows Finley Price, who is good at two things: directing a world-class production, and flying under the radar. The only person who ever seems to notice Finley is her best friend, Oliver, though she still can't take his constant encouragement to heart and finally chase her dream of joining the prestigious Mansfield Theater. When teen movie stars Emma and Harlan Crawford move next door, they immediately set their sights on Oliver and his cunning sister, Juliette, shaking up Finley and Oliver's stable friendship. As Emma and Oliver grow closer, Harlan finds his attention shifting from Juliette to the quiet, enigmatic Finley. Out of boredom, Harlan decides to make her fall in love with him. But soon, he starts to fall for her, too. But Finley doesn't want to be won, and she doesn't want to see Oliver with anyone else. To claim Oliver's heart, and keep her own, she'll have to find the courage to do what she fears most: step into the spotlight.
2. 'Ronit & Jamil' by Pamela L. Laskin
A retelling of Shakespeare's Romeo & Juliet, Laskin's book follows Ronit, an Israeli girl, and Jamil, a Palestinian boy, living on opposite sides of a fence. They are only miles apart but they are separated by generations of conflict—much harder to bridge than a concrete blockade. Their fathers, however, work in a distrusting but mutually beneficial business arrangement, a relationship that brings Ronit and Jamil together. And lightning strikes. The teenagers fall desperately into the throes of forbidden love, one that would create an irreparable rift between their families if it were discovered. But a love this big can only be kept secret for so long. Ronit and Jamil must face the fateful choice to save their lives or their loves, as it may not be possible to save both.
3. 'Spindle Fire' by Lexa Hillyer (April 11, 2017)
This retelling of Sleeping Beauty follows half sisters Isabelle and Aurora who are polar opposites: Isabelle is the king's headstrong illegitimate daughter; Aurora, is beautiful and sheltered. Despite their differences, the sisters have always been extremely close. And then everything changes, with a single drop of Aurora's blood — and a sleep so deep it cannot be broken. As the faerie queen and her army of Vultures prepare to march, Isabelle must race to find a prince who can awaken her sister with the kiss of true love and seal their two kingdoms in an alliance against the queen. Meanwhile, Aurora wakes up in a strange and enchanted world, where a mysterious hunter may be the secret to her escape . . . or the reason for her to stay.
4. 'Hunted' by Meagan Spooner (March 14, 2017)
Hunted is a Beauty & the Beast retelling that follows Yeva, who knows that the forest holds secrets and that her father is the only hunter who’s ever come close to discovering them. So when he loses his fortune and moves Yeva and her sisters from the city back to the outskirts of town, Yeva is secretly relieved. Out in the wilderness, there’s no pressure to make idle chatter with vapid baronessas…or to submit to marrying a wealthy gentleman. But Yeva’s father’s misfortune may have cost him his mind, and when he goes missing in the woods, Yeva sets her sights on one prey: the creature he’d been obsessively tracking just before his disappearance. Deaf to her sisters’ protests, Yeva hunts this strange Beast back into his own territory — a cursed valley, a ruined castle, and a world of creatures that Yeva’s only heard about in fairy tales. A world that can bring her ruin or salvation. Who will survive: the Beauty, or the Beast?
5. 'Because You Love to Hate Me: 13 Tales of Villainy' by Various Authors (July 11, 2017)
This unique collection of stories by authors including Marissa Meyer, Victoria Schwab and Susan Dennard was created in collaboration with some of your favorite booktubers. The collection contains 13 stories by 13 authors all about reimagined fairy tales... but this time, from the oft-misunderstood villains' points of view. These fractured, unconventional spins on classics like Medusa, Sherlock Holmes, and Jack and the Beanstalk provide a behind-the-curtain look at villains' acts of vengeance, defiance, and rage — and the pain, heartbreak, and sorrow that spurned them on.
6. 'The Emerald Circus' by Jane Yolen (November 2017)
This new collection of fairytales pulls from The Wizard of Oz, Alice in Wonderland, Peter Pan and more. A young woman trapped in Never Never Land leads a strike due to the unfair labor practices of the Lost Boys. A young girl is blown away from Kansas and returns as a sophisticated woman with unusual gymnastic abilities. While forging an extraordinary sword, a talented apprentice falters and is left to the mercies of Merlin. Poor Alice’s nemesis has fearsome jaws and claws, but it also lacks essential qualities—like a sense of humor. Enter the Emerald Circus and be astonished by the transformations of your favorite tales. Witty and bold, and unexpected, these tales go well beyond the rabbit hole and back again.
7. 'Poison's Kiss' by Breeana Shields
Breeana Shield's book is a fantasy retelling of the the poison damsel, or visha kanya in Indian folklore. It follows a girl named Marinda who has kissed dozens of boys. They all die afterward. It's a miserable life, but being a visha kanya, a poison maiden, is what she was created to do. Marinda serves the Raja by dispatching his enemies with only her lips as a weapon. Until now, the men she was ordered to kiss have been strangers, enemies of the kingdom. Then she receives orders to kiss Deven, a boy she knows too well to be convinced he needs to die. She begins to question who she s really working for. And that is a thread that, once pulled, will unravel more than she can afford to lose.
8. 'The Library of Fates' by Aditi Khorana (July 18, 2017)
Library of Fates pulls directly from Indian folklore and opens on Shalingar, an idyllic kingdom that has been immune to Emperor Sikander's violent conquests... but now he's come to visit. To keep things friendly, Princess Amrita has offered herself as his bride, sacrificing everything to save her people. But her offer isn't enough. The unthinkable happens, and Amrita finds herself a fugitive, utterly alone but for an oracle named Thala, who was kept by Sikander as a slave and managed to escape amid the chaos of a palace under siege. With nothing and no one else to turn to, Amrita and Thala are forced to rely on each other. But while Amrita feels responsible for her kingdom and sets out to warn her people, the newly free Thala has no such ties. She encourages Amrita to go on a quest to find the fabled Library of All Things, where it is possible for each of them to reverse their fates. To go back to before Sikander took everything from them. Stripped of all that she loves, caught between her rosy past and an unknown future, will Amrita be able to restore what was lost?
9. 'Forest of a Thousand Lanterns' by Julie C. Dao (October 10, 2017)
This mystical East Asian fantasy re-imagining of The Evil Queen legend follows eighteen-year-old Xifeng. The stars say that she 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 in order to achieve greatness, she must spurn the young man who loves her and exploit the callous magic that runs through her veins — sorcery fueled by eating the hearts of the recently killed. For the god who has sent her on this journey will not be satisfied until his power is absolute. Forest of a Thousand Lanterns contains dazzling magic, heartbreaking romance, and a world that hangs in the balance.