Once upon a time, in a land of timeless tales, young adult literature found a magical key – the art of retelling fairytales. These stories, known to us since childhood, are being ingeniously reimagined, offering fresh perspectives, diverse settings, and contemporary themes. Let’s embark on a journey through some of the most spellbinding YA retellings of classic fairytales.
First, The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer, a series that cleverly mixes science fiction with beloved fairytales like Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, Rapunzel, and Snow White. Set in a futuristic world where Earth is plagued by a deadly disease and the moon is inhabited by a separate civilization, this series reimagines our favorite characters as strong, diverse young women, each with their own unique story to tell. Meyer’s series is a testament to the power of retelling stories in a way that speaks to a new generation.
Danielle Paige’s Stealing Snow is a frosty twist on the Snow Queen tale. This story takes us into the psyche of seventeen-year-old Snow, who has spent most of her life within the walls of a mental institution. When she discovers her magical heritage and a kingdom in peril, the line between madness and magic becomes blurred. Paige’s novel explores themes of self-discovery and the power of one’s own story, even in the coldest of settings.
Next, let’s turn to Thorn by Intisar Khanani, which is a reimagining of the Goose Girl fairytale. In this story, Princess Alyrra’s journey of self-discovery starts with a betrayal that leads to her living as a commoner, and ultimately, choosing her own path. Khanani’s tale is imbued with themes of integrity, justice, and the strength that comes from staying true to oneself.
Sarah J. Maas’s A Court of Thorns and Roses series draws inspiration from Beauty and the Beast, but with a dark, seductive twist. Here, we meet Feyre, a huntress who finds herself entwined in the affairs of faeries and ancient curses. Maas’s writing is renowned for its rich world-building and complex characters, making this series a staple in the fantasy genre.
Rosamund Hodge’s Cruel Beauty is a lush, romantic, and slightly dark retelling of Beauty and the Beast. Set in a world where Greek mythology intertwines with fairytales, the story follows Nyx, who has been betrothed to an evil ruler since birth. Hodge’s novel explores themes of destiny, love, and sacrifice, making it a compelling read.
In Her Dark Wings by Melinda Salisbury, we are transported into a reimagining of the Persephone myth. This tale takes us through a story of betrayal, reunion, and the darkening depths of the Underworld, challenging the characters’ endurance and morality.
House of Salt and Sorrows by Erin A. Craig, is a haunting retelling of “The Twelve Dancing Princesses.” This gothic and eerie novel combines ghostly visions, a deadly curse, and chilling surprises, perfect for those who love their fairytales with a darker edge.
Elizabeth Lim’s Her Radiant Curse intertwines Beauty and the Beast with Helen of Troy and Asian folklore. This book explores the dark side of beauty and the bonds of sisterhood, offering a unique and multicultural perspective on these classic tales.
Silver in the Bone by Alexandra Bracken takes inspiration from Celtic lore. It’s a contemporary fantasy that follows a teenager’s quest in the ruins of Avalon, driven by love, revenge, and adrenaline. Bracken’s writing is known for its vivid world-building and strong character development.
Lastly, Song of Silver, Flame Like Night by Amélie Wen Zhao draws on the rich mythology and folklore of ancient China. This epic fantasy series unfolds in a fallen kingdom, where secrets and demons from the past threaten the present.
These retellings demonstrate how classic fairytales can be transformed into something new, relevant, and utterly enchanting. They remind us that even the most well-known stories can be seen in a new light, resonating with contemporary readers in profound ways. The magic of these retold fairytales lies not just in their familiarity, but in their ability to surprise, captivate, and inspire a new generation of readers.