Fairy Tale Retellings

7 Min Read
Scheherazade, by Edouard Frederic Wilhelm Richter

R E C C O M E N D A T I O N – B O O K

Tasnia Shahrin

Fairy-tales are one of the most beautiful parts of a person’s childhood. Growing up, fairy-tales are often considered the first connection between human and literature. Hence, for the adult readers fairy-tale retellings are the medium to travel back to their childhood and understand the old stories from a new and contemporary perspective. Here are some fairy-tale retellings recommendations for adult readers.

To Kill a Kingdom by Alexandria Christo

A bewitchingly dark retelling of The Little Mermaid. In this book, we follow Lira, the Siren known as Prince’s Bane, and Elian, the prince who is also a Siren killer. We join a human Lira in her attempt to kill Elian and gain the Sea Queen’s favour in order to be turned back into a Siren and a worthy heir to the throne. We join Elian in his attempt to find an object that will help him eliminate Siren kind once and for all. Both of them are trying to do the exact opposite of what the other wants, but seeing them contemplate whether they truly hate each other or are falling in love is mesmerising. It is a quick read with a strong enemies-to-lovers trope.

All the Ever Afters by Danielle Teller

Beautiful inside and out; All the Ever Afters is a sorrowful tale woven from lyrical prose, words as lovely and lush as the book’s alluring cover. Cinderella’s evil stepmother, Agnes, tells her side of the story, in which she’s born a peasant and must claw her way to a better life. The little cinder girl arrives late in the story, a mere trifle compared to the hardship and heartbreak Agnes endures. 

The Lunar Chronicles series by Marissa Meyer

This series retells the classic fairy tales using a sci-fi twist. The first book Cinder is based on the story of Cinderella, while the next books are inspired by Little Red Riding Hood, Rapunzel, and Snow White. If you loved the classic stories of these Disney princesses, you will be amazed by Meyer’s technique of re-telling them in a futuristic world where cyborgs, androids, and a race of moon colonists all coexist and our fairy-tale ‘princesses’ come together to save each other. 

Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge

It’s a gorgeously written blend of Beauty and the Beast retelling and Greek mythology. It’s not only a powerful and heart-breaking love story, but also a dark tale that stabs you in the heart at every turn and constantly throws all new levels of craziness into the mix.

Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine

Feminists often denounce traditional fairy tales because they perpetuate the ideals of a patriarchal society, by encouraging girls to behave like ‘proper’ princesses and wait for charming princes to take charge and save the day. In response to these traditional fairy tales, many authors have tried to reclaim the realm of fairy tales for girls. These retellings feature active protagonists who are not scared of taking charge and do not need princes to save them. 

One example of this new fairy tale genre is the 1998 children’s novel Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine, which takes an untraditional approach to retelling the story of Cinderella. The novel addresses several specific feminist issues, specifically negotiating and fighting the burden of obedience, the importance of female friendships and, of course, learning to save yourself.

The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale

This book It’s a lovely adaptation of the old Goose Girl fairy tale. Shannon Hale has created a detailed world in which some of the odd details of the original fairy tale are reworked and make much more sense. Hale has made the story into a strong coming-of-age tale with heart and humour and a subtle romance that hit me right in the heartstrings. 

Entwined by Heather Dixon

This novel is a retelling of the German fairy tale, The Twelve Dancing Princesses. It is highly recommended for fans of family dynamics, as this story focuses a lot on sisterly bonds and father-daughter bonds. It also has a nice touch of mystery to the story and how the bits and pieces come together is pretty fantastic. Having said that, one of the coolest aspects of the tale was the dancing itself.  It has that eerie but gorgeous feel to it.
So, I urge other fairytale junkies like me to pick it up and get entwined!

The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh

This is a retelling of the classical One Thousand and One Nights tale. The Caliph of Khorasan, the King of Kings, is a monster. Every day he takes a new wife and every dawn, he executes her. One of those unfortunate girls was Scheherazade’s best friend. Blinded by her grief, her hatred and the desire for revenge, Scheherazade volunteers to become the Caliph’s next wife, with one goal in mind – to destroy him. That is why, it’s a fantasy, but with a pinch of magic and a lot of Persian culture!



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