Fairytale Retellings That Rival The Originals
Updated: Jan 18
We love a good fairy tale, but if you have read them multiple times they can begin to become predictable. That is why we love retellings, and these books are some of our favorites!
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We all know the story of Sleeping Beauty or Cinderella, they are classic and nostalgic, but sometimes we need to mix it up a bit. We love to see how certain authors view these stories and retell them to fit their own personalities and tastes. Besides, reading a sci-fi version of Rapunzel sounds pretty epic, right? We have read plenty of fairytale retellings and thought we would share some of our favorites!
Cinder by Merissa Meyer
Cinder works as a mechanic in New Beijing, Eastern Commonwealth. What makes Cinder different from other people is the fact that she is a cyborg, which is more common than you would think. Unfortunately, cyborgs are considered the outcasts of society, but Cinder tries her best to make her life as normal as possible.
When she is unexpectedly approached by Prince Kai to help him fix a royal droid, she begins to uncover secrets and becomes involved in something greater than she could ever imagine.
Cinder is based on the story of Cinderella. It is the first installment of the Lunar Chronicles series, which has multiple books and includes several fairy tales. This book is a fun take on the classic tale. It is based in a futuristic/sci-fi like world with all sorts of things ranging from space travel to werewolves.
This book is worth reading because it is so different and unique while still being a familiar story. It is also part of one of our favorite series!
A Curse so Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer
Harper is a young girl who lives in Washington DC. Her mother is dying and her brother is tangled up with the wrong crowd in order to help pay off a debt left by their father. Desperate to help her family, Harper begs her brother to let her go with him when he does his “jobs” to be his look out.
On one particular night, Harper runs into a mysterious stranger who kidnaps her and takes her into an enchanted world, Emberfall. Rhen is the prince of Emberfall and unbeknownst to his people, he has been cursed and Harper is his last hope.
This book, which is based on Beauty and the Beast, is fantastic! We will go ahead and be bold by saying that we like this version of the story more than the original. You may not believe us, but once you’ve read it you will understand.
A Curse so Dark and Lonely is an amazing book that we would highly recommend. It is a fun, easy, and exciting read with action, romance, and magic fit for just about any reader.
Entwined by Heather Dixon
Azalea is the oldest daughter of the king, and she is tasked with planning the kingdom's annual Yuletide ball. Usually her mother would plan this extravagant event, but she is very ill. Azalea’s 10 sisters are all too young to attend the ball, but they sneak out and watch anyway. The next morning the girls are all informed that their mother has passed away. As tradition, the young girls and their father must enter a year of mourning.
As the months go by, the girls begin to feel the weight of the restrictions, especially the one on dancing. Desperate for something to do, the girls discover a hidden secret in their room. As they dive deeper into the past of the kingdom, they begin to question why this world was secret in the first place.
Based on the story of The 12 Dancing Princesses, Entwined dives more in depth to this fairytale realm. We loved how the author managed all of these unique characters, it was extremely helpful that the girls names were in alphabetical order (Azalea, Bramble, Clover, ect.)
There was just the right amount of mystery to the story, not so much that the plot revolved around it, but not so little that you could tell what was going to happen. All in all, this book is great and we had to put it on our list!
To Kill A Kingdom by Alexandra Christo
For every year a siren is alive, they must take the heart of a human. Princess Lira has taken the hearts of 17 princes. On land, she is known by humans as the Prince’s Bane. After her greed causes her to anger her mother, the Sea Queen, she is turned into a human as punishment. In order to return home as a siren, she must bring her mother the heart of Prince Elian, known as the siren killer.
Prince Elian is the heir to the throne, but he wants nothing more than to explore. He has always felt more at home upon his ship, than anywhere else. He has spent his life chasing one goal, to rid the earth of sirens forever, saving countless lives.
After saving the life of a girl who claims to know the final piece to his goal, how much will he risk for it? When love begins to seep through the cracks of betrayal, but how much destruction are they willing to inflict on their own worlds for each other?
To Kill A Kingdom is loosely based on the tail of The Little Mermaid. (Did you see what I did there?) Similar to A Curse so Dark and Lonely, this plotline is more interesting than the original. This book has more action and adventure than the original story.
The characters are more personable, with more interesting characteristics and attitudes, which makes the book more interesting to read. This book is so exciting and we loved it. In fact, we’ve already reviewed this book on our blog!
Here is the link so you can go check it out :)
Geekerella by Ashley Poston
Ella Wittimer has been obsessed with Starfield ever since watching it as a young girl constantly. After all, it was her father's favorite show. When she hears of a cosplay contest, she knows she can win using her father's old costume. The prize of the contest is tickets to the ExcelisiCon Cosplay ball, and a meet-and-greet with the actor who will play Federation Prince Carmindor in the new movie reboot.
Before he was famous, teen actor Darien Freeman used to live and breath for cons. Now, he has been chosen for the role of Prince Carmindor. This is all he could have dreamed of. If only the fandom hadn’t written him off, assuming he was chosen to fit into the star-studded cast. He wishes that someone could see him for who he truly is, and not just a movie star. After an awkward call, which turns into an even more adorable romance, Darien realizes his wish is not too far fetched.
Geekerella is the perfectly adorable real-world romance we have all been waiting for. Sure, it might not be totally realistic, but few Cinderella retellings are. With lovable characters, as well as unexpected interpretations of a classic fairy tale, Geekerella should be on everyone’s must read list.
Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine
When Ella was a baby, she was given a gift from a fairy, the gist of obedience. However, over time this gift proved to be more of a curse. While Ella grew up, she was forced to follow all directions given to her which made her vulnerable to manipulation. This does not stop Ella from becoming her own person with passions and dreams.
When her father remarries, Ella gains two new step sisters who make her life far worse than she ever thought it could be. She sets out to find the fairy who gave her the “gift” of obedience so that she can undo it.
Ella Enchanted is technically a children’s book, but we still love it. Based off of the tale of Cinderella, Ella Enchanted is the perfect book to read on a rainy day, it will make you feel all warm and happy inside. If you have never read this book, you have to add it to your “want to read” list, you are really missing out!
Briar Rose by Jane Yolen
Rebecca’s grandmother, Gemma, has always told her stories about Briar Rose, a girl who lives in a castle which has been taken over by the enemy. Rebecca had thought that these elaborate stories were made up by Gemma, that is until Rebecca goes to visit her grandmother on her deathbed and promises to do three things: find the castle, find the prince, and find the spell maker. Rebecca embarks on a journey to discover the truth behind Gemma’s haunting statement, I am Briar Rose.
Jane Yolen’s adaptation of Sleeping Beauty is truly a masterpiece. Briar Rose makes the idea that a fairy tale can be real come to life. Being both a fairytale retelling and a historical fiction novel makes the book sound either confusing or brilliant, we would go with brilliant. The way that the story unfolds allows us to see how Gemma bent and twisted certain aspects of the story to fit her version of the classic tale of Sleeping Beauty.
Princess of the Midnight Ball by Jessica Day George
Princess Rose and her sisters are all trapped under a curse, every third night the 12 princesses must go to the Midnight Ball and dance with the 12 sons of the King Under Stone. The King rules an underground realm beneath the castle. The King wants one of his sons to marry a princess to inherit their father's crown. Every time a suitor comes seeking the hand of one of the girls, he ends up dead by the next full moon. The curse prevents the girls from speaking of the underground King and his sons as well as the Midnight Ball.
When Galen, a soldier returning from war, comes to the castle and notices that something is off with the 12 girls. He begins to uncover small things that might just help him break the curse and rescue the 12 princesses from impending doom.
Similar to Entwined, Princess of the Midnight Ball is also based on the 12 Dancing Princesses. This story is very exciting to read. It could easily be read in one sitting, it is more interesting than the original fairy tale.
We learn about the kingdom’s past as the characters do, which helps us to understand what is happening without the author going too far out of her way to explain everything. Both the character building and world building in this book is beautifully done and worth reading!
Heartless by Marissa Meyer
Catherine is one of the most beautiful girls in Wonderland, when the King of Hearts comes to her parents seeking her hand in marriage, they immediately accept. Most girls would be ecstatic to be chosen by the King himself, but Catherine has other dreams. She is a very talented baker and wishes to open a shop with her best friend. Catherine's parents tell her that she must marry the King to raise their status and so that she could become the Queen of Hearts.
When Catherine attends a ball, where she is supposed to officially receive the King’s proposal, she meets a mysterious court joker, Jest. Catherine falls for him almost immediately, but she fears that she will be rejected by her parents or worse, offend the King. When Catherine and Jest enter a secret courtship. Catherine learns more about the Kingdom of Hearts and surrounding kingdoms. When tragedy strikes the Kingdom, Catherine and Jest realize that they are in more danger than they thought.
Heartless is one of our all time favorite books! Based off of the classic Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, we see the Queen of Hearts while she is young and hopeful. This book provides some background as to what led the seemingly evil Queen of Hearts to become the terror she is.
Marissa Meyer does an excellent job intertwining the original story with her version. It is equal parts thrilling and romantic, which makes it extremely difficult to put it down.
Hunted by Meagen Spooner
Yeva is the youngest of three daughters of a successful merchant. The family lives a comfortable lifestyle in the village, but when one of her father’s business trips turns south. With expensive goods stolen and men killed, the family slips into debt. In order to pay off their debt, Yeva’s father decides to sell their village home and move into his hunting cabin in the forest. Yeva loves the outdoors, she used to accompany her father on some of his shorter hunting trips when she was younger. However, Yeva’s father does not allow her to help now, he is in search of a beast who some would pay a lot of money for.
When their hunting dog returns without their father, Yeva takes it upon herself to find him. The deeper she goes into the forest the more she gets the feeling that she is being hunted herself.
Another Beauty and the Beast adaptation, Hunted is a very different take of the tale. This book adds modern female characteristics to Yeva, making her strong and independent. By making Beauty the avid hunter in the story, we were worried about how on earth Meagan Spooner was going to flip this story to become this timeless romance that everyone knows. That being said we were pleasantly surprised with how everything worked out.