Fairytale Retellings


We are all familiar with fairytales, whether it’s the classics like Little Red Riding or a bit more niche like East of the Sun and West of the Moon. Whatever fairytale you love most you can probably find a YA or middle grade book adaptation of it. But who ( other than me) wants to go digging through hundreds of YA novels to find the perfect modern fairy tale? In this list I have assembled some of my favorite fairy tale retellings, hopefully with its help you can find a book that will whisk you away into a new version of your favorite fairy tale world. 

Mulan – Spin the Dawn by Elizabeth Lim

Young Adult Novel

Content warning – Abuse

Maia Tamarin has dreams of becoming the most talented tailor alive, just like her father, but being a woman means that her greatest accomplishment in life can be nothing more that a successful marriage. However, Maia sees her opportunity when the royal messenger orders her father to come to court and compete to be the imperial tailor; Maia decides to go in her sickly father’s place and compete herself. Maia must go up against eleven other tailors in a competition full of slander and dishonesty in order to prove their skill and creativity. As she struggles to make her way through without revealing her secret, she discovers that the final challenge is unlike anything anyone has ever seen before. Maia must travel across the world to find the magic she needs to win the competition and fulfill her dreams. 

Beauty and the Beast – The Beast’s Heart by Leife Shallcross

Young Adult Novel 

Content warning – Abusive behavior, Manipulation, Suicide attempt

Have you ever wanted to know the story of Beauty and the Beast from the eyes of the Beast? Leaf Shallcross’ novel is exactly that. The Beast lives in his broken-down chateau, alone, until a sickly, broken  man arrives at his home. When Isabeau, the man’s charming daughter, shows up bargaining for her father’s release, the Beast sees an opportunity to break his curse. Isabeau agrees to live with the Beast for a year; but despite their growing feelings for one another the Beast realizes falling in love is only the beginning of breaking his curse. 

Rapunzel – What Once Was Mine: A Twisted Tale by Liz Braswell

Young Adult Novel 

Content warning – Blood, (minor) Body-shaming, Cancer, Confinement, Death, Emotional abuse, Kidnapping, Murder, Torture

Liz Braswell’s Twisted Tale asks the question: “What if Rapunzel’s mother drank a potion from the wrong flower?” When the pregnant queen becomes ill, the kingdom of Corona does everything to find the cure, a magical Sundrop flower. However, the kingdom makes a mistake and they accidentally give her the Moondrop flower which heals the queen and gives her baby silver hair. Though Corona originally rejoices, that comes to a halt when it is discovered that the Moondrop flower granted the infant princess deadly powers. For the health and safety of the kingdom and the baby, Rapunzel is put into a tower with a goodwife named Mother Gothel. Rapunzel stays in the tower until her 18th birthday when she goes to see the floating lights that fill the sky on her birthday. Along the way she stumbles into an adventure with a swashbuckler named Flynn Rider and a thief named Gina. During her journey Rapunzel learns more about her past and magic; armed with these new gifts she will do whatever it takes to get her happily ever after. 

Baba Yaga – A Wolf For A Spell by Karah Sutton

Middle Grade Novel 

In Karah Sutton’s A Wolf For A Spell, a young girl and a wolf join forces to save their forest from an evil tsar. Zima has been taught since she was a puppy that she should be wary of humans, particularly those with magic. But when a wicked tsar threatens her family, she must go seek help from the tricky witch Baba Yaga. Baba Yaga agrees to help Zima but not for free, and before Zima knows what’s happening Baba Yaga has not only cast a spell that switches their bodies but she immediately runs off. Not long after, a girl from the village arrives at Baba Yaga’s hut to ask for help. Nadya, the villager, and Zima, in the form of Baba Yaga, realize that they may have more in common than they would have ever believed: they have the same goal. Zima and Nadya must unite the humans and the wolves to stop the evil forces threatening their world. 

Little Mermaid – To Kill A Kingdom by Alexandra Christo

Young Adult Novel 

Content warning – Abuse (including parental), death (graphic), gun violence, nonconsensual kiss, violence

In Alexandra Christo’s twist to the Little Mermaid, Princess Lira is the deadliest siren in her kingdom. She has collected the hearts of 17 different princes and is famous for her acts: known as the Prince’ Bane. However, when she makes a mistake and takes a heart when she isn’t allowed Lira is transformed into a human by her mother the Sea Queen. The Sea Queen orders  Lira to deliver Prince Elian’s heart to her before the winter solstice or remain a human forever. But Lira has other plans, she wants to take the throne that belongs to her.

Prince Elian is only at home when he is in the ocean, despite his royal blood. Before he must return home and be king he has to complete what he believes is his calling: killing all sirens and their evil queen. Elian finally has a chance when he rescues a woman from the ocean who swears she has the key to exterminate sirens once and for all. The two enemies must pair up if they have any chance of achieving their goals; that is until a final confrontation must result in one of their deaths. 

Little Red Riding Hood – The Girl in Red by Christina Henry

Young Adult Novel 

Content warning – Murder, Graphic violence, Racism, Ableist language, Mentions of rape, Sexual assault

Christine Henry brings Little Red Riding Hood into a whole new world. This version is set in a post-apocalyptic world where the woods are not safe for anyone. After the Crisis, the few people left alive have flocked to quarantine camps that are almost as deadly as the world itself. The woman in the red jacket has no other choice but to go into the woods. The world wasn’t always this way, three months ago everything was relatively normal but now the girl in red is forced to go into the woods in order to find her grandmother and survive. But the wolves and snakes aren’t the only beasts that come into the woods at night. Men, secrets, and government conspiracies are bad but there is something worse than all those that Red fears; the plague that decimated the population has created terrible monsters that stand in Reds’ way. She may be a woman alone in the woods, but there are worse things one could be. 

Cinderella – Cinderella is Dead by Kalynn Bayron

Young Adult Novel

Content warning – Animal death, Death, Domestic abuse, Homophobia, Kidnapping, Misogyny, Murder, Physical assault, Selling people, Sexual assault (nonconsensual kissing)

200 years after Cinderella fell in love with her prince, teen girls are asked to attend the Annual Ball where men choose their wives based on their appearance and demonstrations. Whoever isn’t chosen disappears and isn’t heard from ever again. Sophia is sixteen years old and though she is forced to attend the ball, she wants to marry her best friend, Erin. When she arrives at the ball Sophia flees and hides in Cinderella’s mausoleum. While there she meets the last descendant of Cinderella and her stepsisters, a girl named Constance. The two girls decide to team up and finally take down the King. As they try to demolish the oppressive system that controls their lives and the lives of all the other women in their kingdom. 

Sleeping Beauty – The Bone Spindle by Leslie Vedder

Young Adult Novel 

Content Warning – Death, murder, violence, emotional abuse, verbal abuse

Leslie Vedder’s genderbent version of Sleeping Beauty follows two young women: Fi, who loves solving riddles and exploring ruins and Shane, who is an axe-wielding huntswomen that enjoys following her own rules, rules that generally end in her running away from trouble. However, when Fi pricks her fingers on a bone spindle the women are pulled into the adventure of a lifetime. Fi is tied to the spirit of the cursed prince Briar Rose; and they are stuck together until the three of them can find a way to break his curse. They must fight Witch Hunters, dark magic, and a secretive enemy who is trying to steal Briar Rose’s heart. The trio must make it through alive and without any broken hearts, which proves to be much harder than it seems. 

PRR Editor and Writer, Frances Drye