Hello all, and welcome. Today I bring you a magical recommendation list of fairytale retellings. I’ve tried to include a whole range of stories, from The Little Mermaid to Snow White. You may notice that there is a distinct absence of Cinderella and Beauty and the Beast retellings. Why, you ask? Well dearies, that’s because I’m bringing you separate recommendation lists for them later this year, so keep an eye out!
To Kill a Kingdom By Alexandra Christo
This take on The Little Mermaid is a bit darker than the Disney version. Lira is a siren princess and she has a prince’s heart for every year she’s been alive. Prince Elian is on a mission to destroy all sirens and make the sea safe again.
There’s adventure, sarcasm, friendship, morally grey characters, and an enemies to lovers romance.
Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik
Spinning Silver is a fairly loose retelling of Rumpelstiltskin with Eastern European folklore mixed in. Miryem is the daughter of money lender, and takes over his job when she’s old enough, earning more in a few months than her father earned in years. Her ability to turn silver into gold earns her the unwanted attention of the Staryk King, ruler of a non-human race who live in the snow and ice.
This book contains a beautiful wintry atmosphere, demons, bargains and three strong intelligent female leads.
The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale
The Goose Girl is the story of a young princess whose ambitious servant takes her place when she’s on her way to wed the prince of a neighbouring kingdom. She ends up working as a goose herder, and attracts the attention of the prince. In this version Ani, the princess, also has a magical gift for speaking to birds.
If you enjoy retellings that retain their fairytale vibe, a focus on friendship, and coming-of-age stories, The Goose Girl may be your cup of tea.
Winterglass by Benjanun Sriduangkaew
Winterglass is an Asian inspired retelling of The Snow Queen. Nuawa is a gladiator who intends to kill the Winter Queen and free her country from winter’s dominion, but only if the shard of glass in her heart doesn’t kill her first. It features huge gender diversity, strong female characters, and a dark enthralling magic system that uses ghosts as energy sources. If these things pique your interest, this novella is for you.
Echo North by Joanna Ruth Meyer
Echo North is a retelling of the Norwegian fairytale East of the Sun, West of the Moon, with splashes of other legends and fairytales thrown in. Echo Alkaev makes a deal to live with a white wolf for a year in his magical house under a mountain in exchange for helping her father.
If you like books with a wintry atmosphere, libraries, fairytale mashups, and gorgeous worldbuilding, this is definitely one to try.
Stain by A. G. Howard
Stain is a loose retelling of The Princess and the Pea with many other recognisable fairytale influences. Set in a world that has been divided in two, Eldoria exists on the surface and is bathed in permanent sun, while Nerezeth has been dragged underground along with the moon, and exists in eternal night. Princess Lyra, heir to Eldorian throne looks like the night folk, and is incapable of human speech, while Prince Vesper, crown prince of Nerezeth looks like the day folk. To reunite their world, they must find each other, even after Lyra’s evil aunt expels her from the palace, and Lyra begins life in The Ashen Ravine as a crossdressing girl called Stain.
This book is huge, but if you like found families, lush descriptions, stories about fate and embracing your scars, and you don’t mind a meandering pace, this is definitely worth a read.
Crimson Bound By Rosamund Hodge
Crimson Bound is a retelling of Little Red Riding Hood set in a French inspired world. When she was fifteen, Rachelle killed her aunt after being marked by a Forestborn, turning her into something both more and less than human – a Bloodbound. For three years she has worked for the King, slaying woodspawn in order to atone for her crime. Now, she is assigned by the King to guard his son, Armand, a man rumoured to have resisted the Forestborn’s curse, and who lost his hands in the process.
If you like antiheroes, complex mythology, French inspired settings, and disability representation, Crimson Bound may be to your liking.
Blanca & Roja by Anna-Marie McLemore
Blanca & Roja is a retelling of both the ballet Swan Lake and the fairytale Snow White and Rose Red featuring Latinx sisters as the lead characters. The del Cisne girls are as different as day and night. Blanca is pale and fair, while Roja is dark with deep red hair. Blanca is sweet and gentle, while Roja is all sharp edges. And they have always known that one day they would be separated by a family curse. A curse that ensures two daughters are born every generation, and the swans in the woods will take one of them. One is destined to remain a girl, while her sister becomes a swan.
If you like magical realism, beautiful writing, stories about sisters, or sensitive transgender representation this is definitely a book that should be on your radar.
On my TBR
Kingdom of Ash and Briars by Hannah West
Bristal, an orphaned kitchen maid, lands in a gritty fairy tale gone wrong when she discovers she is an elicromancer with a knack for shape-shifting. She is torn between two paths. Should she use her magic for good and serve mortals, or should she follow a darker path fraught with unknown consequences? Kingdom of Ash and Briars pays homage to Sleeping Beauty, Mulan, Cinderella & Jane Austen’s Emma.
Sea Witch by Sarah Henning
This Little Mermaid Retelling explores the origins of The Sea Witch. Ever since her best friend, Anna, drowned, Evie has been an outcast in her small fishing town. A freak. A curse. A witch.
A girl with an uncanny resemblance to Anna appears offshore and, though the girl denies it, Evie is convinced that her best friend actually survived. That her own magic wasn’t so powerless after all. And, as the two girls catch the eyes—and hearts—of two charming princes, Evie believes that she might finally have a chance at her own happily ever after.
But her new friend has secrets of her own. She can’t stay in Havnestad, or on two legs, unless Evie finds a way to help her. Now Evie will do anything to save her friend’s humanity, along with her prince’s heart—harnessing the power of her magic, her ocean, and her love until she discovers, too late, the truth of her bargain.
Forest of a Thousand Lanterns by Julie C. Dao
This Snow White retelling is set in a Chinese inspired world, and follows the rise of the Evil Queen. Xifeng is beautiful, and the stars say she is destined for greatness, that she will be the Empress of Feng Lu. But only if she embraces the darkness within her.
In order to rise so high she must reject the man who loves her and embrace the magic that runs in her veins – magic that is fuelled by eating the hearts of the recently killed. But is the price fo the throne too high?
House of Salt and Sorrows by Erin A. Craig
Release date: 6 August 2019
House of Salt and Sorrows is a retelling of Twelve Dancing Princesses. Annaleigh and her sisters live in a manor by the sea, and they are cursed. At the start of the story, four of her sisters have died tragically, and Annaleigh begins to have disturbing visions which convince her that her sisters’ deaths were not accidental. Meanwhile, her other sisters sneak out every night to attend glittery balls and dance all night. But who, or what, are the really dancing with? Annaleigh must unravel the mystery before someone else dies.
The Evil Queen by Gena Showalter
Release date: 25 June 2019
This retelling of Snow White charts the life of the Evil Queen. Raised in the mortal realm, Everly has no idea she is a fairy princess until she develops the ability to commune with mirrors. Then she discovers the awful truth, that fairytales are not only real, they are prophecies of the future, and Everly is destined to be Snow White’s greatest enemy.
What are your favourite fairytales and retellings? Have I missed any of your favourites? Let me know in the comments below!