Hey guys! So I was recently thinking about retellings of Greek myths (thanks Hermione and Clara!) and, while I was stumped about picking 10 retold Greek myths, I had no problem coming up beautiful retellings of fairy tales. So I thought this would be interesting.
Full disclosure: I’m completely biased to Beauty and the Beast, if you couldn’t guess that already. It’s so much my favorite fairy tale that I named a blog after it, so….
Top Ten Retold Fairy Tales
1. Hunted by Meagan Spooner
This is the first of my Beauty and the Beast books. It’s got kind of a Hunger Games twist on the story, though. Let me explain. When Yeva’s father loses everything and moves the family to the woods, Yeva’s relieved. She loves the wild, loves not making small-talk, and especially loves not being forced to marry against her will. But her father’s not well and when he disappears into the woods, Yeva sets her sights on the creature her father was obsessed with before his disappearance. She follows the beast back to his territory and the ruined castle. But who’s going to survive–Yeva or the Beast? It’s a darker take on this tale than you normally see, and the story relies heavily on Yeva’s cleverness. When I read it, I compared it to A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas. The Beast isn’t as human as he usually seems in other stories and there’s a heightened sense of danger in this book. While it’s not my favorite Beauty and the Beast story (my favorite is later in this list!), it’s still really interesting and worth the read.
2. The Great Hunt by Wendy Higgins
Based on the Brothers Grimm tale “The Singing Bone”, this is a story I know I won’t soon forget. I read this as an ARC (because I’m lucky like that) and I fell in love. A strange beast is terrorizing Lochlanach. Princess Aerity becomes a prize: whoever can kill the beast gets Aerity’s hand in marriage. Hunters comes from all over, but it’s Paxton Seabolt who catches her eye. Paxton doesn’t want to marry Aerity–he wants to kill the beast and protect what’s left of his family. But this beast isn’t going down without a fight and the kingdom may be destroyed before it does. What I loved is that the plot seems deceptively simple, but there’s so much going on behind the scenes. But that simplicity allows us to learn more about the characters because we’re not bogged down by an over-complicated plot. The action was great, the characters were great, and the world building was awesome. Read this.
3. Princess of Thorns by Stacey Jay
Stacey Jay is phenomenal when it comes to fairy tales, you guys. So this isn’t exactly a retelling as it is what happens to Sleeping Beauty’s daughter, but I’m counting it. Aurora is a fairy blessed with many powers, but cursed to destroy the free will of any man who kisses her. So she disguises herself as a boy and joins the army of Prince Niklaas (as one obviously does when one is cursed). It turns out Niklaas is cursed too. Together, they try to free Aurora’s brother and unseat the ogre queen who stole throne from Aurora’s family. It sounds super weird, I know, but it’s addicting. It’s imaginative and funny and exciting and so much else. I loved it.
4. Of Beast and Beauty by Stacey Jay
Y’all do not understand the absolute heartfelt love I have for this book. Yes, it’s the second Beauty and the Beast retelling here, but it’s perfection. And sci-fi, which is something you rarely ever see. In the domed city of Yuan, blind princess Isra is raised to be a human sacrifice. Outside of the city is Gem, a mutant beast who fights for his people, the Monstrous, to save them from starvation. Isra desperately wants to help those around her who have Monstrous traits, but isn’t sure how. So she enlists the help of captive Gem, who was caught stealing an enchanted rose. But things aren’t as either one of them believes. What’s so beautiful about this story is how it plays against what you know of the original story and creates a story that’s even bigger than that behind it. Also, having a blind character like Isra means we experience her side through sounds and smells and feelings. It’s amazingly well done.
5. Entwined by Heather Dixon
There was a time in the early 2010s (oh my God, I feel so old saying that) when the fairy tale The Twelve Dancing Princesses was constantly being retold. This was one such story. Azalea has everything she could ever want, but then it’s all cruelly ripped away from her. The Keeper offers her a deal–and from that day on Azalea and her 11 sisters spend their time with the Keeper. But he’s more dangerous than they anticipate. What I loved about this story was the way Azalea’s deal was a mystery for her father and everyone else–people came from far and wide to figure out why the princesses were so tired, why their shoes were ruined every night, etc. And every character felt unique. It’s a very cute story.
6. Spirited by Nancy Holder
Shh, let’s just ignore the fact that this is the 3rd Beauty and the Beast story on this list, though it’s more like BatB meets Pocahontas. This one, however, combines my favorite story with my favorite era of history: colonial America. This may sound weird, but stay with me: it’s 1756 and the beginning of the French and Indian War (that’s what we call it in America; everywhere else I believe it’s called the Seven Years’ War). Isabella is travelling with her father to a fort to stay safe, but along the way she’s kidnapped by Wusamequin, a medicine man who is desperate to avenge the death of his wife and child at the hands of the British. So he kidnaps Isabella, but he’s charmed by her. And things aren’t going the way either of them expected. Admittedly, there are some things that infuriated me about this story (*cough* European treatment of Natives *cough*), but it’s so well told.
7. A Kiss in Time by Alex Flinn
Easily the funniest book I have on this list. A retelling of Sleeping Beauty, this is the story of After. Talia touched the spindle and brought a curse to her people. 300 years later, Jack escapes his tour group and finds the sleeping Talia. He decides–oddly–that he needs to kiss her, which wakes her and sets in motion events that Jack wishes he could undo. But what’s absolutely hysterical is that Talia needs to fit in with Jack’s time…even though there are 300 years between and she doesn’t even know what electricity is. I’m pretty sure I laughed out loud reading this.
8. Princess of the Midnight Ball by Jessica Day George
A retelling of the Brothers Grimm’s The Twelve Dancing Princesses, this book does not disappoint. Every night, Rose and her sisters are forced to dance for the King Under Stone. Galen is a soldier recently returned from war. Together, Rose and Galen try to discover how to break the curse that forces the girls to dance each night. It’s suspenseful, it has action, and the characters are incredibly well-written. It’s enchanting.
9. Book of a Thousand Days by Shannon Hale
This is perhaps one of the deepest philosophical books on this list. Not that it’s not still cute and gives you the warm fairy tale feels, but it’s more than that. Based on a little-known Brothers Grimm tale, this is the story of Dashti, a maid, and Lady Saren, her mistress. Because Lady Saren refuses to marry who she’s been ordered to wed, Dashti and Saren are locked in a tower until Saren is forced to make a choice. It really is a beautiful story and because it’s not as well-known, you truly don’t know what’s going to happen next. And that’s rare in more retellings.
10. The Amaranth Enchantment by Julie Berry
I don’t think this is a retelling, per se, but it very much feels like a fairy tale. If anything, it’s a twist on Cinderella. After Lucinda’s parents disappear, she’s sent to work for her evil aunt in a jewelry store. Then a mysterious stranger enters the story with an even more mysterious jewel and Lucinda’s life changes. I found the story to be cute, funny, and just uplifting overall. I’ve had a lot of fun reading and rereading this book.