Listen, Chaser friends. I was practically raised on Gail Carson Levine’s Ella Enchanted
and The Frog Princess
series by E.D. Baker. Seriously, was there ever a time I didn’t love to read books that find creative ways to retelling myths, fairytales, classics? I don't think so. Retellings are all the rage right now, and fairytale retellings are easy fodder. Everyone wants a piece of the action -- even movies like Maleficent and Snow White and the Huntsman were million-dollar projects. Making a list of fairytale retellings is a lofty goal, but I feel it's my calling, for one specific reason.
You see, the problem is, with an overcrowded genre you're bound to get a few
bad apples. I've had to "Titanic"
more than one poorly done retelling, and sometimes even break up with the authors. If you’re going to do, you need to know you can do it well.
However, there are some favorites that stick out above the rest.
Here is our list of fairytale retellings for all ages, audiences, and fans:
Fairytale retellings for younger kids:
For kids, I would highly recommend anything created by Gail Carson Levine and Robin McKinley. I mean, have you even fully experienced childhood if you haven't read Ella Enchanted?
However, I'm just going to pause for a moment to fangirl over Robin McKinley. Her retelling of Beauty and the Beast simply titled Beauty
is, quite honestly, one of the best I’ve ever read. And trust me. I’ve read a lot
of fairytale retellings. ALA agrees with my opinion: they nominated Beauty
for a Notable Book for Children award. Fun-fact: Beauty and the Beast and Cinderella are probably two of the most common retellings ever used.
Fairytale retellings for older kids:
Cameron Dokey wrote and entire series retelling fairytales that are short and sweet, but a little older in content. She's got Mulan, Arabian Nights, Sleeping Beauty, you name it. Then, there's more Robin McKinley. You can never have enough Roin McKinley. One of the lesser-known fairytales Robin McKinley wrote about is called Donkeyskin and has tougher subject matter. Her retelling is titled Deerskin
and I hold it near and dear to my heart. Now, you might wonder how on earth I knew about such a random fairytale called Donkeyskin. Well, there was a Japanese animated TV series called Grimm’s Classic Fairy Tales I watched as a kid that retold any and all fairy tales and folklore in an animated episode. That’s right kids. I watched anime before anime was cool. To this day, that show is still how I recognize some retellings. If anyone owns it on DVD, let me know. I can’t find it anywhere, and I’d be willing to barter for it.
YA fairytale retellings for the young at heart:
Aging up into the YA genre, there's the one, the only, the retelling of King Arthur by Meg Cabot in
. Yes. Please. But don’t watch the Disney movie of the same name. It ruins it and totally changes the plot to be…just not good. In addition, Melanie Dickerson writes retellings of fairytales all set in the medieval era in the fictional land of Hagenheim. I started reading her books with The Healer's Apprentice —
a wonderful retelling of Sleeping Beauty. What makes Melanie Dickerson’s retellings so unique is that she finds a way to explain the story without using magic. One of her most recent releases, The Silent Songbird,
is The Little Mermaid. But even though there’s no actual mermaid—because no magic, duh—you still recognize what fairytale the book is based on. In a similar vain, Annie Sullivan tells the story of King Midas’s daughter in A Touch of Gold.
And last but not least, any shout out complete without Marissa Meyer’s dystopian series The Lunar Chronicles
Fairytale retellings for grown-ups:
And for the adult readers out there. Stephen Lawhead has retold the story of Robin Hood in a
historically accurate way that is absolutely fascinating. This series Hood
, and Scarlet
are appropriate for young adult readers as well, though the targeted audience is adults. The three are compiled in a single book titled King Raven.
A great but significantly more fluffy series starts off—you guessed it—with a Cinderella retelling called The Royal Date
by Sariah Wilson, but in a modern-day, Hallmark-style, no magic way. (Read: Christmas, Europe, and princes. Need I say more?) Mercedes Lakey wrote a fairytale series that kicks off with The Fairy Godmother
, also a retelling of Cinderella. But in this story Cinderella decides she doesn’t want her prince and has to deal with what happens when she veers off track from her fairy tale.
Fairytale retellings for the really grown-up:
In the straight-ahead romance genre 18+ audience, you have Alyssa Cole’s A Princess in Theory
Eloise James The Ugly Duchess
. Cole’s retelling of Cinderella as an actual African princess? I AM THERE. And it counted as one of my categories on the Book Riot Read Harder Challenge, so double win. And Eloise James’s The Ugly Duchess
is a retelling of The Ugly Duckling…but with Regency England. Perfection. She has an entire series called, wait for it, the Fairy Tale series. For all my regency romance and fairy tale lovers out there, this is your jam.
There you have it. If you didn't get a great new fairytale retelling from this list, I don't even know how to help you! Was your favorite included? If not, let me know in the comments below!
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Kayleigh is an active friend to the Page Chaser team and enjoys practicing her English accent and drinking tea – an Anglophile to the end. Catch her trying to use her Movie Pass while it's still working (which is not for much longer).
HarperCollins Christian Publishing, Inc., (HCCP) operates Page Chaser, the publisher of The Healer's Apprentice, The Silent Songbird, Touch of Gold, Hook, Tuck, Scarlet, and The Raven King. HCCP is owned by HarperCollins Publishers, the publisher of A Princess in Theory, The Ugly Duchess, The Fairy Godmother, Avalon High, Beauty, and Ella Enchanted.