20 YA Books Based on Fairy Tales

YA Books Based on Fairy Tales

Mechanica by Betsy Cornwall

Mechanica’s stepsisters gave her the nickname out of spite, but, as an inventor, Mechanica rather thinks it fits. Still, she’s ready to escape from the family that hates her. Could a technological exposition be her chance at freedom? A charming spin on the “Cinderella” tale with well-developed characters.

House of Salt and Sorrows by Erin A. Craig

Annaleigh and her sisters live at Highmoor, a manor by the sea. There used to be twelve of them, but four have mysteriously died. The village thinks the family is cursed. But could the deaths have something to do with the balls her sisters attend each night? A retelling of “The Twelve Dancing Princesses.”

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Forest of a Thousand Lanterns by Julie C. Dao

Forest of a Thousand Lanterns

Eighteen-year-old Xifeng has been promised she will grow up to be Empress–but only if she rejects the man who loves her and accepts the dark magic within her. That magic demands to be fed with the hearts of the recently killed. Is Xifeng ready to pay the ultimate price to gain the throne?

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Entwined by Heather Dixon

Entwined

After the death of their mother, Princess Azalea and her eleven sisters find themselves confined to the castle in mourning, forbidden even to visit the gardens.  Their father in his grief begins to ignore them, leaving the girls even more desolate.  When they find a secret passageway to an underground world, they grasp the opportunity to dance there each night, forgetting their troubles.  There in the darkness, however, lurks a man known as the Keeper, who longs for the power to free himself and visit the land above.  The princesses soon realize they have placed themselves in extreme danger, but, unless they can learn to forgive their father and place their trust in him again, everything may be lost.  A retelling of “The Twelve Dancing Princesses.”

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Stepsister by Jennifer Donnelly

Stepsister by Jennifer Donnelly

Isabelle has never been able to please her mother. She’s too wild. Too ugly. Too opinionated. That hasn’t kept her from trying, though. She’ll cut off her own toes to try to make her mother happy. But the prince isn’t fooled. As blood pools in Cindererlla’s glass slipper, Isabelle is sent away in disgrace. Then chance gives her the opportunity to change her fate, to reclaim the pieces of her heart she’s lost. Isabelle yearns to try. But maybe she’s too bitter and broken to get her own happily-ever-after. A standout feminist fairy tale retelling featuring a bold heroine and an imaginative world.

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The Seafarer’s Kiss by Julia Ember

Seafarer's Kiss

When the mermaid Ersel rescues a shieldmaiden named Ragna, she is given a choice: bid farewell to Ragna or face justice at the hands of the king. In desperation, Ersel asks for help from Loki. But if she ever wants to be with Ragna, she will now have to outwit the God of Lies.

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Princess of Glass by Jessica Day George

A companion book to Princess of the Midnight Ball, this reads as a mixture of fantasy, romance, and mystery.  The protagonist Princess Poppy is not the Cinderella figure, but, rather, the one who takes it upon herself to discover where a serving girl has suddenly been acquiring fancy new clothes.  This gives the story a unique spin other retellings lack.

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Princess of the Midnight Ball by Jessica Day George

Princess of the Midnight Ball

Rose and her sisters are cursed each night to dance for the King Under Stone. Can Rose save her sisters with the help of Galen, a soldier newly returned from the war? An original retelling of “The Twelve Dancing Princesses” featuring a knitting hero! Book one in the Princess series.

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Princess of the Silver Woods by Jessica Day George

A decade has passed since Petunia and her sisters defeated the King Under Stone with the help of a young soldier. The bonds keeping the evil king’s sons imprisoned, however, are breaking. Oliver, a dispossessed noble and sometime bandit, wants desperately to protect Petunia from harm. But webs of magic and treachery lie all around and even true love may not prove strong enough to break them. A retelling of “Little Red Riding Hood” (with a dash of Robin Hood). Book three in Jessica Day George’s Princess series.

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A Curse So Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer

A Curse So Dark and Lonely

Prince Rhen is cursed to relive his eighteenth year over and over again until a girl falls in love with him.  Unfortunately, they never do–not when they see the beast he becomes.  Then Harper, a girl from D.C. enters his world and, suddenly, Rhen thinks he might have a chance.  But war approaches his borders and Harper fears for the family she left behind.  Can Rhen save both his kingdom and his heart? A gripping retelling that goes beyond the romance to tell a story about political machinations and impending war.  Readers who enjoy high fantasy and war stories will delight in this expanded version of an old story. The first in a series.

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Spinning Starlight by R. C. Lewis

Liddi Jantzen is the heiress to the most influential tech company in the Seven Points; she only wishes she were as clever at inventing tech as her older brothers are, so she can earn the role. But when all of her brothers go missing at the same time, trapped in the conduits between the seven planets, it is up to her–the girl with the “checked genes”–to find a way to save them. The final catch: the person who imprisoned them placed a vocal imprint in Liddi’s throat and if she speaks about the plan to anyone, her whole family will die. A retelling of “The Wild Swans.”

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So This Is Love by Elizabeth Lim

So This Is Love by Elizabeth Lim

In this retelling of the Disney movie, Cinderella never tries on the glass slipper. Never taken to the palace as the missing princess, she instead finds work there as a seamstress. But then she gains knowledge of a conspiracy against the kingdom. Can Cinderella stop the plot before it is too late? A fun and entertaining read for fans of the original film.

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Spin the Dawn by Elizabeth Lim

Maia Tamarin has longed dreamed of becoming the tailor to the emperor. Unfortunately, the position is not open to women. But then emperor calls her father to court and Maia, seeing her chance, disguises herself as her brother and goes in his stead. There she enters a competition to please the emperor’s newly betrothed and become the court tailor. But she never reckoned on being assigned an impossible task or on falling in love with an enchanter. An enjoyable fairy tale with a classic feel.

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Blanca & Roja by Anna-Marie McLemore

The del Cisne sisters are cursed. One day the swans will take one of them, transforming them into a swan, and leave the other behind. But their fate becomes even more complicated when two boys become involved.

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Dark and Deepest Red by Anna-Marie McLemore

It is 1518. When women in Strasbourg begin to dance in the street until they fall dead, people look to Lavinia and her family. Are they witches? Five hundred years later, Rosella Oliva has a pair of red shoes attach to her feet, making her dance uncontrollably. She will have to look to the past if she wants to save her life.

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Echo North by Joanna Ruth Meyer

Echo North

Scarred by a wolf when she is seven years old, Echo Alkaev leads a lonely existence, shunned by the villagers who think she is cursed. Years later, she meets the wolf again and he strikes a bargain: he will save her father’s life is she agrees to live with him for one year. In his house under the mountain, Echo finds an enchanted library and begins to fall in love with Hal, who seems trapped in the books. But an evil force is growing and the wolf, Echo, and Hal will all be lost at the end of the year, unless Echo can find a way to break the curse. This enchanting fantasy blends elements from “East of the Sun, West of the Moon,” “Beauty and the Beast,” and “Tam Lin.”  Readers who love retellings with a classic feel will fall in love with Echo North, which captures the elusive spirit of Faerie.

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Rogue Princess by B. R. Myers

Rogue Princess

Princess Delia steals a spaceship to avoid an arranged marriage. When she discovers a stowaway, however, the two will have to join forces to defeat a rebel plot. A gender-swapped sci-fi retelling of “Cinderella.”

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Geekerella by Ashley Poston

Geekerella

In this modern retelling of “Cinderella,” Elle is a geek girl who meets her prince at a con. This is a cute read meant primarily to be fun, though the book also raises questions about geek culture and what it means to be a “real” fan. A lively retelling perfect for readers looking for something sweet and charming.

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Nameless by Lili St. Crow

Found in the snow at six years of age and adopted by a powerful branch of the Family, Camille has no memory of her past. She only knows that she is human, not a true member of the Family, even if they treat her as one of their own. And her past is about to catch up with her. Nameless puts an original spin on the story of “Snow White”, replacing the dwarfs with branches of a powerful Mafia-like family and shrouding the past of the protagonist in shadow.  The result is a compelling paranormal romance set in an alternate universe where magic entered history sometime after the Industrial Revolution.  

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Wayfarer by Lili St. Crow

Wayfarer

Ellie Sindar is a powerful charmer, but her stepmother abuses her, forcing her to use her spells for stepmother’s gain. But when handsome Avery arrives at her school, Ellie begins to dream of a future romance. Unfortunately, however, her stepmother has dark plans in mind–and Ellie’s soul may be the price.

18 thoughts on “20 YA Books Based on Fairy Tales

  1. Jai Lynn says:

    Wow this is a great list! Deep and Darkest Red and Echo North sound really great. I’m always looking for retellings of The Red Shoes, because it’s one of my favorite fairytales, and who isn’t a sucker for a Beauty and the Beast retelling? Tam Lin and East of the Sun, West of the Moon influences just make it even better 😀

    Like

  2. Jackie B @ Death by Tsundoku says:

    A fun list — I love reading retellings. Unfortunately, I couldn’t tell what fairy tales these were all based on from their synopses. Can you help me identify what The Forest of a Thousand Lanterns and Dark and Deepest Red are based on?

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    • Krysta says:

      Sure! Forest of a Thousand Lanterns is, as far as I was able to tell, an East Asian retelling of “Snow White,” except it is actually the story of the Evil Queen’s rise to power (in this case she is trying to become Empress.) Dark and Deepest Red is a retelling of “The Red Shoes.”

      Liked by 1 person

        • Krysta says:

          I’ve always like the story of the red shoes! I think there was even a movie made in the 1940s about a ballerina who has to choose between her dancing career and a romance. The story isn’t that well-known, but it has its share of adaptations!

          Liked by 1 person

  3. tasya @ the literary huntress says:

    Oh this is a great post! I love retellings, especially if it’s super unique and focused on “darker” aspect of the fairytale. My favorites are Forest of A Thousand Lanterns, The Winternight trilogy by Katherine Arden (more on slavic mythology than retelling), and Snow, Glass, Apple by Neil Gaiman 🙂

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  4. TheOneWhoReadIt says:

    Thank you so much for making this list! I’ve heard mixed reviews on A Curse so Dark and Lonely but I think I am still going to give it a try and see what I think about it. Dark and Deepest Red seems so intriguing!

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    • Krysta says:

      Kemmerer is one of my favorite YA authors–I really love her contemporary romances–so I basically assumed I would enjoy A Curse So Dark and Lonely from the start. It was really good, but I have mixed feelings about the sequel.

      Liked by 1 person

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