Fairy Tale Re-tellings
Both the darkness underlying in fairy tales and the romance at the heart of others come out in these re-tellings, featuring older teens and definitely for older audiences. All YA
Bunce, Elizabeth. A Curse as Dark as Gold
The gold thread promises Charlotte Miller a chance to save her family’s beloved woolen mill. It promises a future for her sister, jobs for her townsfolk, security against her grasping uncle — maybe even true love. To get the thread, Charlotte must strike a bargain with its maker, the mysterious Jack Spinner. But the gleam of gold conjures a shadowy past — secrets ensnaring generations of Millers. And Charlotte’s mill, her family, her love — what do those matter to a stranger who can spin straw into gold?
Dean, Pamela. Tam Lin
In the ancient Scottish ballad “Tam Lin,” headstrong Janet defies Tam Lin to walk in her own land of Carterhaugh . . . and then must battle the Queen of Faery for possession of her lover’s body and soul. In this version of “Tam Lin,” masterfully crafted by Pamela Dean, Janet is a college student, “Carterhaugh” is Carter Hall at the university where her father teaches, and Tam Lin is a boy named Thomas Lane.
Dickerson, Melanie. The Healer’s Apprentice
Rose has been appointed as a healer’s apprentice at Hagenheim Castle, a rare opportunity for a woodcutter’s daughter like her. While she often feels uneasy at the sight of blood, Rose is determined to prove herself capable. Failure will mean returning home to marry the aging bachelor her mother has chosen for her—a bloated, disgusting merchant who makes Rose feel ill. When Lord Hamlin, the future duke, is injured, it is Rose who must tend to him. As she works to heal his wound, she begins to understand emotions she’s never felt before and wonders if he feels the same. But falling in love is forbidden, as Lord Hamlin is betrothed to a mysterious young woman in hiding. As Rose’s life spins toward confusion, she must take the first steps on a journey to discover her own destiny.
Dixon, Heather. Entwined
Azalea is trapped. Just when she should feel that everything is before her . . . beautiful gowns, dashing suitors, balls filled with dancing . . . it’s taken away. All of it. The Keeper understands. He’s trapped, too, held for centuries within the walls of the palace. And so he extends an invitation. Every night, Azalea and her eleven sisters may step through the enchanted passage in their room to dance in his silver forest. But there is a cost. The Keeper likes to keep things. Azalea may not realize how tangled she is in his web until it is too late.
Flinn, Alix. Beastly
Privileged, popular, and proud, high school student Kyle Kingsbury knows he can get away with virtually anything because of his good looks and his father’s money. But Kyle goes too far when he sets out to humiliate a mysterious and unpopular girl at the school dance. The girl turns out to be a witch who casts a spell on Kyle, turning him into a beast–who is now as ugly on the outside as he is on the inside. The only way for Kyle to break the curse is to fall in love with someone who will look past his appearance and love him in return. A modern retelling of Beauty and the Beast.
Flinn, Alix. A Kiss in Time
Jack is on a European tour mandated by his parents when he breaks an ancient curse by kissing the slumbering Princess Talia. Instead of rejoicing, she and other awakened members of their magical kingdom are confused and perturbed to find themselves in the 21st century. In order to escape the wrath of her father, Talia flees with Jack to his home in Florida. While acclimating to the modern world-cell phones, television, and Jell-o shots, the princess manages to charm everyone she meets and help Jack sort out his life.
George, Jessica Day. Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow
When a great white bear promises untold riches to her family, the Lass agrees to go away with him. But the bear is not what he seems, nor is his castle. To unravel the mystery, the Lass sets out on a windswept journey beyond the edge of the world. Based on the Nordic legend East of the Sun, West of the Moon, with romantic echoes of Beauty and the Beast, this re-imagined story will leave fans of fantasy and fairy tale enchanted.
Geras, Adele. The Tower Room
Once upon a time, teenage Megan looks down from her tower room at a cloistered all-girls boarding school in England and observes the arrival of the new laboratory assistant, Simon Findlay. As soon as their eyes meet, their love blossoms–and Simon begins to scale the scaffolding into the tower room for clandestine trysts. But when Dorothy, the school’s science teacher and Megan’s guardian, discovers the young couple’s affair, Megan’s sheltered world is shattered forever. Also read Watching the Roses and Pictures of the Night, the stories of Megan’s classmates.
Kantor, Melissa. If I have a Wicked Stepmother, Where’s My Prince?
Transplanted from San Francisco to Long Island because of the marriage of her father, who continues to spend working weeks on the West Coast, Cinderella Lucy Norton grapples with a pseudo-family existence with her step-monster, and her magpie twin stepsisters. Negotiating that minefield of adolescence, high school, Lucy enjoys her rapid ride on the social surf, featuring drinking parties, melt-away kisses, even the much-sought-after prom invite, but her home life is still difficult–her stepmother is trying to win some kind of bitch-of-the-year award. With two boys to choose from, what will Lucy do?
Lanagan, Margo. Tender Morsels
Liga lives modestly in her own personal heaven, a world given to her in exchange for her earthly life. Her two daughters grow up in this soft place, protected from the violence that once harmed their mother. But the real world cannot be denied forever—magicked men and wild bears break down the borders of Liga’s refuge. Now, having known Heaven, how will these three women survive in a world where beauty and brutality lie side by side?
Lo, Malinda. Ash
In the wake of her father’s death, Ash is left at the mercy of her cruel stepmother. Consumed with grief, her only joy comes by the light of the dying hearth fire, re-reading the fairy tales her mother once told her. In her dreams, someday the fairies will steal her away, as they are said to do. When she meets the dark and dangerous fairy Sidhean, she begins to believe that her wish may be granted. Entrancing and romantic, Ash is an empowering retelling of Cinderella about the connection between life and love, and solitude and death, where transformation can come from even the deepest grief.
Marillier, Juliet. Wildwood Dancing
High in the Transylvanian woods, five girls live with their doting father. It’s an idyllic life for Jena, who spends her time exploring the forest with her pet frog. Every Full Moon, the sisters pass into the enchanted world of the Other Kingdom. There they dance through the night with the fey creatures of a magical realm. When Father falls ill and must away to recover, cousin Cezar Drakul arrives. Though he’s there to help the girls survive the brutal winter, Jena suspects he has darker motives in store. Meanwhile, Jena’s sister has fallen in love with a dangerous creature of the Other Kingdom–an impossible union it’s up to Jena to stop. To save her world, Jena will be tested in ways she can’t imagine–tests of trust, strength, and true love.
McKinley, Robin. Rose Daughter
Once upon a time an enchanting young woman named Beauty nurtured a rose garden in barren soil. Her gift for cultivating such rare flowers was truly magical and her roses adorned homes throughout the village, bringing joy and love to all who chanced upon their exotic scent. But one summer, Beauty’s roses did not blossom. Without their presence her family and neighbors became ill-tempered and nature itself lost the light and warmth of the season. Even more heartbreaking, the roses no longer protect Beauty from her nightmares of a monstrous Beast—a Beast it is her destiny to meet and whose heart and soul she must nurture with love…
Meyer, Marissa. Cinder
Humans and androids crowd the raucous streets of New Beijing. A deadly plague ravages the population. From space, a ruthless lunar people watch, waiting to make their move. No one knows that Earth’s fate hinges on one girl. . . . Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She’s a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s illness. But when her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she suddenly finds herself at the center of an intergalactic struggle, and a forbidden attraction. Caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal, she must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect her world’s future.
Napoli, Donna Jo. Bound
Xing Xing spends her days taking care of her half sister, Wei Ping, who cannot walk because of her foot bindings, the painful tradition for girls who are fit to be married. Even so, Xing Xing is content to practice her gift for poetry and calligraphy, and to dream of a life unbound by the laws of family and society. But all of this is about to change as Stepmother, who has spent nearly all of the family’s money, grows desperate to find a husband for Wei Ping. Xing Xing soon realizes that this greed and desperation may threaten not only her memories of the past, but also her dreams for the future. Try some of Napoli’s other adaptations of fairy tales: Beast, Crazy Jack, Hush, The Magic Circle, Sirena, Spinners, The Wager, and Zel.
Pearce, Jackson. Sisters Red
Scarlett March lives to hunt the Fenris–the werewolves that took her eye when she was defending her sister Rosie from a brutal attack. Armed with a razor-sharp hatchet and blood-red cloak, Scarlett is an expert at luring and slaying the wolves. She’s determined to protect other young girls from a grisly death, and her raging heart will not rest until every single wolf is dead. Rosie March once felt her bond with her sister was unbreakable. Rosie hunts ferociously alongside her. But even as more girls’ bodies pile up in the city and the Fenris seem to be gaining power, Rosie dreams of a life beyond the wolves. She finds herself drawn to Silas, a young woodsman who is deadly with an ax and Scarlett’s only friend–but does loving him mean betraying her sister and all that they’ve worked for?
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These books are definitely not for young readers! In some ways though, these titles are truer to the spirit of the original fairy tales, collected by the Brothers Grimm and intended to teach listeners a lesson about the world and its dangers. Intended for upper middle school and high school readers, if you’re a fan of danger, romance and don’t mind some uncomfortable realities with your fantasy, you’ll enjoy these tales.
Only one more Fairy Tale Re-telling list to go! Short story collections!