Perfectly in time for the end of February, we’re over the fantastical moon for National Tell a Fairy Tale Day! And it’s time to celebrate. But if you’re not feeling creative enough to tell your own story on this day, we’ve got you covered with some of the most gorgeous fairy tale retellings in YA!
But because we admire the creative spirit, some of these retellings aren’t strictly fairy tale in definition. But a story is a story, and a beautifully tragic character arc is a beautifully tragic character arc. Scroll down and find some new twists on old stories to add to your TBR!
10 Fairy Tale Retellings That Will (Maybe, Hopefully) Give You a Happily Ever After
1. Spindle Fire by Lexa Hillyer
You get two amazing retellings in one novel with the start of this duology! Sleeping Beauty isn’t really asleep—she’s trapped in an enchanted dream world that gives off fabulously dark Alice in Wonderland vibes. And that ENDING! You’ll need the sequel WINTER GLASS ASAP.
It all started with a curse… Half sisters Isabelle and Aurora are polar opposites: Isabelle is the king’s headstrong illegitimate daughter, whose sight was tithed by faeries; Aurora, beautiful and sheltered, was tithed her sense of touch and her voice on the same day. Despite their differences, the sisters have always been extremely close. And then everything changes with a single drop of Aurora’s blood—and a sleep so deep it cannot be broken.
As the faerie queen and her army of Vultures prepare to march, Isabelle must race to find a prince who can awaken her sister with the kiss of true love and seal their two kingdoms in an alliance against the queen. Meanwhile, Aurora wakes up in a strange and enchanted world, where a mysterious hunter may be the secret to her escape… or the reason for her to stay.
2. The Traitor Prince by C.J. Redwine
Master of retellings C.J. Redwine continues her Ravenspire companion series with this dark spin on The Prince and the Pauper. It’s also got some Thor: Ragnarok vibes if you like your fantasy with a side of action. And like all of her books, there’s a flawless map inside that we need to frame.
Javan Najafai, crown prince of Akram, has spent the last ten years at an elite boarding school, far away from his kingdom. But his eagerly awaited return home is cut short when a mysterious impostor takes his place—and no one believes Javan is the true prince.
After barely escaping the impostor’s assassins, Javan is thrown into Maqbara, the kingdom’s most dangerous prison. The only way to gain an audience with the king—and reveal Javan’s identity—is to fight in Maqbara’s yearly tournament. But winning is much harder than facing competitions at school.
The only person who can help him is Sajda, who has been enslaved by Maqbara’s warden since she was a child, and whose guarded demeanor and powerful right hook keep the prisoners in check. Working with Sajda might be the only way Javan can escape alive—but she has dangerous secrets.
3. Heart of Iron by Ashley Poston
We promise you’ll never read a retelling quite like this one! Inspired by the story of Anastasia, but also with a dose of SIX OF CROWS and Firefly, HEART OF IRON had us hooked from page one. This cast is just so *Italian chef kiss* perfect.
Seventeen-year-old Ana is a scoundrel by nurture and an outlaw by nature. Found as a child drifting through space with a sentient android called D09, Ana was saved by a fearsome space captain and the grizzled crew she now calls family. But D09—one of the last remaining illegal Metals—has been glitching, and Ana will stop at nothing to find a way to fix him.
Ana’s desperate effort to save D09 leads her on a quest to steal the coordinates to a lost ship that could offer all the answers. But at the last moment, a spoiled Ironblood boy beats Ana to her prize. He has his own reasons for taking the coordinates, and he doesn’t care what he’ll sacrifice to keep them.
When everything goes wrong, she and the Ironblood end up as fugitives on the run. Now their entire kingdom is after them—and the coordinates—and not everyone wants them captured alive.
4. Girls Made of Snow and Glass by Melissa Bashardoust
A feminist fantasy reimagining of Snow White—need we say more? Probably not, but we will. Because GIRLS MADE OF SNOW AND GLASS also has LGBT rep, and the writing is just as magical as the story the novel is based upon.
Sixteen-year-old Mina is motherless, her magician father is vicious, and her silent heart has never beat with love for anyone―has never beat at all, in fact, but she’d always thought that fact normal. She never guessed that her father cut out her heart and replaced it with one of glass. When she moves to Whitespring Castle and sees its king for the first time, Mina forms a plan: win the king’s heart with her beauty, become queen, and finally know love. The only catch is that she’ll have to become a stepmother.
Fifteen-year-old Lynet looks just like her late mother, and one day she discovers why: a magician created her out of snow in the dead queen’s image, at her father’s order. But despite being the dead queen made flesh, Lynet would rather be like her fierce and regal stepmother, Mina. She gets her wish when her father makes Lynet queen of the southern territories, displacing Mina. Now Mina is starting to look at Lynet with something like hatred, and Lynet must decide what to do―and who to be―to win back the only mother she’s ever known…or else defeat her once and for all.
5. Forest of a Thousand Lanterns by Julie C. Dao
We are so glad to have Xifeng around on our list of bad b#tches not to mess with. Reading her simultaneous descent and rise was such wonderfully dark fun, and Julie did the Evil Queen’s story right. Is it too soon to be counting down to book two?
Eighteen-year-old Xifeng is beautiful. The stars say she is destined for greatness, that she is meant to be Empress of Feng Lu. But only if she embraces the darkness within her.
Growing up as a peasant in a forgotten village on the edge of the map, Xifeng longs to fulfill the destiny promised to her by her cruel aunt, the witch Guma, who has read the cards and seen glimmers of Xifeng’s majestic future. But is the price of the throne too high? Because in order to achieve greatness, she must spurn the young man who loves her and exploit the callous magic that runs through her veins–sorcery fueled by eating the hearts of the recently killed. For the god who has sent her on this journey will not be satisfied until his power is absolute.
6. Hunted by Meagan Spooner
This Beauty & the Beast retelling is so lush and gorgeous and we just wanted to live inside this world forever! Plus, a story where the Beauty is the deadly one? Count us in.
Beauty knows the Beast’s forest in her bones—and in her blood. After all, her father is the only hunter who’s ever come close to discovering its secrets. So when her father loses his fortune and moves Yeva and her sisters out of their comfortable home among the aristocracy and back to the outskirts of town, Yeva is secretly relieved. Out in the wilderness, there’s no pressure to make idle chatter with vapid baronessas…or to submit to marrying a wealthy gentleman. But Yeva’s father’s misfortune may have cost him his mind, and when he goes missing in the woods, Yeva sets her sights on one prey: the creature he’d been obsessively tracking just before his disappearance. The Beast.
Deaf to her sisters’ protests, Yeva hunts this strange creature back into his own territory—a cursed valley, a ruined castle, and a world of magical creatures that Yeva’s only heard about in fairy tales. A world that can bring her ruin, or salvation. Who will survive: the Beauty, or the Beast?
7. Queen of Hearts by Colleen Oakes
This is so NOT the Wonderland you know. And the best thing about this twisted trilogy (well, okay, maybe not the best—there is that nightmare-inducing prison…) is that all three books are already on sale so you can binge it all now! Maybe just do it with the lights on?
ONLY QUEENS WITH HEARTS CAN BLEED.
This is not the story of the Wonderland we know. Alice has not fallen down a rabbit hole. This is a Wonderland where beneath each smile lies a secret, each tart comes with a demand, and only prisoners tell the truth.
Dinah is the princess who will one day reign over Wonderland. She has not yet seen the dark depths of her kingdom; she longs only for her father’s approval and a future with the boy she loves. But when a betrayal breaks her heart and threatens her throne, she is launched into Wonderland’s dangerous political game. Dinah must stay one step ahead of her cunning enemies or she’ll lose not just the crown but her head.
8. Heartless by Marissa Meyer
Love Wonderland but not ready to commit to a whole trilogy? Want a story that’s based more around the romance than the true darkness of the world? Then try this standalone instead!
Long before she was the terror of Wonderland, she was just a girl who wanted to fall in love.
Catherine may be one of the most desired girls in Wonderland, and a favorite of the unmarried King of Hearts, but her interests lie elsewhere. A talented baker, all she wants is to open a shop with her best friend. But according to her mother, such a goal is unthinkable for the young woman who could be the next queen.
Then Cath meets Jest, the handsome and mysterious court joker. For the first time, she feels the pull of true attraction. At the risk of offending the king and infuriating her parents, she and Jest enter into an intense, secret courtship. Cath is determined to define her own destiny and fall in love on her terms. But in a land thriving with magic, madness, and monsters, fate has other plans.
9. A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro
This series has skyrocketed to the top of our list of favorite Sherlock adaptations and we love that there will be four books! It’s witty, centers around thrilling mysteries, and the relationship between Charlotte Holmes and Jamie Watson has captured our hearts!
The last thing Jamie Watson wants is a rugby scholarship to Sherringford, a Connecticut prep school just an hour away from his estranged father. But that’s not the only complication: Sherringford is also home to Charlotte Holmes, the famous detective’s great-great-great-granddaughter, who has inherited not only Sherlock’s genius but also his volatile temperament.
From the moment they meet, there’s a tense energy between them, and they seem more destined to be rivals than anything else. But when a Sherringford student dies under suspicious circumstances, ripped straight from the most terrifying of the Sherlock Holmes stories, Jamie can no longer afford to keep his distance. Jamie and Charlotte are being framed for murder.
10. Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige
If you like your retellings with a much darker edge, then you’ve come to the right Oz!
What happened? Dorothy. They say she found a way to come back to Oz. They say she seized power and the power went to her head. And now no one is safe.
My name is Amy Gumm—and I’m the other girl from Kansas. I’ve been recruited by the Revolutionary Order of the Wicked. I’ve been trained to fight. And I have a mission: Remove the Tin Woodman’s heart. Steal the Scarecrow’s brain. Take the Lion’s courage. And—Dorothy must die.
What’s your favorite YA retelling? Let us know in the comments!