The Reading Lists
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The Reading Lists

11 Spellbinding Fairytale Retellings that Reimagine the Happily-Ever-Afters we Grew Up Rooting for

When we were children, fairytales were a vital and magical part of our lives, whisking us away to worlds where pumpkins can become horse-drawn carriages, straw can be spun into gold, and true love’s kiss can save a life.

But the magic of fairytales hasn’t faded as we matured into our teenage and adulthood years — if anything, its impact has been strengthened through retellings: stories that re-envision the characters of our favorite tales in new, and sometimes modern, settings. Stakes rise, and we find ourselves rooting for our fairytale princesses and princes now more than ever!

Here are 11 of our favorite current and upcoming fairytale retellings, each full of intrigue and gripping adventure!

Cinderella is Dead by Kalynn Bayron (Bloomsbury YA, Available Now)

Two centuries after Cinderella lived her life, her former fairytale kingdom has transformed into something far from magical: teenage girls are presented in balls to find matches and those who fail to are never heard from again. Sophia would rather marry her childhood best friend, Erin, but Erin isn’t willing to challenge the system. When the time comes, Sophia flees the ball and finds a new ally in Constance, Cinderella’s last known descendent. Together, they fight to right the wrongs of their kingdoms, sparking a relationship in the process, in a new kind of fairytale adventure that will leave fans of Cinderella hooked till the last page.

A Curse so Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer (Bloomsbury YA, Available Now)

When Harper, a modern-day 17-year-old with cerebral palsy, attempts to stop what she perceives as a kidnapping, she gets transported to a fantasy world stuck in limbo. An enchantress had cursed the kingdom to eternally repeating the eighteenth autumn of its prince’s life. If Harper falls in love with his beastly form, she stands to save the kingdom, but this is easier said than done in this Beauty and the Beast retelling, perfect for fans of the original tale and Phillip Pullman’s His Dark Materials series.

Glimpsed by G.F. Miller (Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers, Available Now)

Fairy godmother Charity typically helps the students of Jack London High School make their deepest desires come true by “glimpsing” into their potential perfect futures and helping them achieve them. But lately, her interventions have been causing more harm than good. Determined to understand what her glimpses really mean, Charity joins forces with an unlikely ally, Noah, the ex-boyfriend of her former client, to understand happily ever afters and if she can ever have one herself. If you’ve ever wondered what fairytale fairy godmothers are really thinking, this is a must-read for you!

Malice by Heather Walter (Random House, Available Now)

This inspired retelling of Sleeping Beauty imagines a romance between Aurora and a Maleficent-like Dark Grace sorcerer, Alyce. Unless Aurora finds her true love’s kiss, she will be cursed to die in under one year. But Aurora’s tired of kissing princes, and Alyce is wondering if she might be able to help her friend instead of being the predetermined villain in this tale. This sapphic YA retelling offers a new perspective on a fairy-tale classic.

Gold Spun by Brandie June (CamCat, June 8, 2021)

This captivating debut by Brandie June is a retelling of Rumplestiltskin, the story of what really happened to the miller’s daughter. Seventeen-year-old orphan, Nor is a con-artist, having survived by swindling money out of the people of Reynallis. When she rescues a captured faerie, she’s gifted magical thread to use to summon him for a favor. Instead, she cons villagers into believing that they can make gold out of the straw, gaining the attention of Prince Casper. What follows is a high-stakes fantasy featuring a strong heroine, creative storytelling, and an unforgettable love story that you won’t be able to put down.

Of Princes and Promises by Sandhya Menon (Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers, June 8, 2021)

Sandhya Menon brings her trademark charming characters and sweet romance to this fun second book in the St. Rosetta’s Academy. Of Princes and Promises follows Caterina LaValle, an elite boarding school queen bee. When she discovers her ex, Alaric, is taking a supermodel to the next gala, Caterina decides she needs the perfect date to show him up. Cue Rahul Chopra, the “adorkable” boy she connected with at the past winter formal, and a mysterious pot of hair gel to transform him into the popular handsome, debonair RC. Everything goes well until the RC persona pushes off Caterina. Now, Rahul must decide whether he wants to keep RC’s standing or forego that for the love of Caterina.

For the Wolf by Hannah F. Whitten (Orbit, June 15, 2021)

In accordance with the legends, Red is sacrificed to the Wolf in the Wood in the hopes that in exchange, the wolf will return the world’s captured gods. Plagued with uncontrollable and dangerous powers, Red is almost relieved to put distance between herself and her loved ones, but not everything is as it seems: the Wolf is actually a human man and Red’s powers prove to be a calling, not a curse. It is the gods who’ve become monsters, and if Red doesn’t master her powers in time, they’ll swallow the world whole. This highly anticipated debut will keep readers spellbound until the very end.

Meant to Be: If the Shoe Fits by Julie Murphy (Disney-Hyperion, August 3, 2021)

When Cindy volunteers to fill a spot on the Bachelor-like reality dating show her stepmother produces, she gets launched into the spotlight as a plus-size body positivity icon. She gets wrapped up in the “fantasy” of the show, hoping to find inspiration and love in the process, but if the figurative shoe won’t fit, Cindy decides she’ll just have to design some of her own. We can’t wait to see how this Cinderella-reminiscent tale pans out this August, and discover how a modern-day Cinderella would design her happily ever after!

Stalking Shadows by Cyla Panin (Amulet Books, September 14, 2021)

In this Beauty & the Beast retelling, protagonist Marie makes and sells perfumes to save up for her sister Ama’s future dowry. But, she laces some of the bottles with honeysuckle: a scent she’s trained Ama to respond to when she transforms into beast form. As a beast, when Ama smells the honeysuckle perfume, she kills the marked wearer. When the body of an unmarked victim is uncovered, Marie realizes she’s losing control over her sister and decides to voyage to the mysterious mansion where Ama had originally been cursed to become a beastly shapeshifter to break the spell. Who is the real beauty, and what does it mean to be a beast? Cyla Panin remixes and recasts each in this captivating adventure.

Beasts and Beauty: Dangerous Tales by Soman Chainani (Harper, September 28, 2021)

This collection of twelve wildly inventive and surprising stories from the mind behind The School for Good and Evil series reimagines Grimm’s classic fairy tales. These new renderings offer a diversity of cultures and perspectives as they push boundaries and pose provocative questions that will appeal to a wide range of ages and audiences. Each tale, from “Snow White,” which features the only Black girl in the kingdom, to “Bluebeard” which reveals a predator who takes boys from orphanages,” is terrifying, chilling, unexpected, and glorious. A must-read for any fairy tale devotee who wants to view classic stories through a new lens.

The Grimrose Girls by Laura Pohl (Sourcebooks Fire, November 2, 2021)

The police ruled the death of Ella, Yuki, and Rory’s best friend a suicide, but the trio is determined to figure out what really happened. When Nani Eszes arrives as their fourth roommate in their elite school dormitory, it triggers a series of events the girls could have never foreseen. Ultimately, the girls discover that they’ve been cursed to live out their individual fairytale destinies and gruesome endings repeatedly until they can break their cycles. If you’re hooked on Pretty Little Liars and Once Upon A Time, you’ll love this series debut.

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