12 Exquisite Fairy Tale Retellings

With Disney’s recent live-action adaptation of Beauty and the Beast, it seems like the whole world is in a temporary fairy tale lock-down.

Why do we love fairy tales? Well, Neil Gaiman sums it up pretty well (in a quote originally coined by G.K. Chesterton):

Fairy tales are more than true: not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us dragons can be beaten.

This is why I’ve always preferred fiction over non-fiction, fantasy over reality, and fairy tales over everything else.


Fairy tales provide a distraction from reality while making a statement about it. That’s their genius. Sometimes, you may learn more about life in a fairy story than you would from reality.

But I’m not here to ramble on about the infinite reasons there are to read fairy tales. My point is this: writers understand and use our obsession with fairy tales to their advantage. Some of the most successful book series (The Lord of the RingsHarry PotterThe Chronicles of NarniaThe Hunger GamesTwilight) were based on ancient myths and legend.

In other words, basing a book off of a beloved fairy tale is an attractive selling point. Here are 12 titles that do it extremely well.

1. Entwined by Heather Dixon


Inspiration: The Twelve Dancing Princesses

This fairy tale has been a favourite of mine from a young age, and this adaptation of the Brothers Grimm story has only increased my love for it. This is a stay-up-’til-3am-until-you-finish sort of story, and it puts an elegant and haunting twist on the tale you thought you knew.

2. The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale


Inspiration: The Goose Girl

Based off a lesser known Grimm tale, this novel tells the story of a princess who’s title is stolen. She is forced to disguise herself as a caretaker of the king’s geese, and with a band of animal workers and a lot of courage…well, you’ll see what happens.

3. The Wrath and the Dawn by Renée Ahdieh


Inspiration: One Thousand and One Nights

Ladies, get ready to meet your newest fictional boyfriend. Besides the fact that he marries and kills a wife every day,

But wait – its sequel is just as ravishing.

4. Cinder by Marissa Meyer


Inspiration: Cinderella

5. Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge


Inspiration: Beauty and the Beast  

6. Book of a Thousand Days by Shannon Hale


Inspiration: Maid Maleen

7. The Forbidden Wish by Jessica Khoury


Inspiration: One Thousand and One Nights (Aladdin)

8. Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine


Inspiration: Cinderella

Levine’s imaginative writing will make you forget that you’re reading a middle-grade novel.

9. Hunted by Meagan Spooner


Inspiration: Beauty and the Beast

10. Beastly by Alex Flinn


Inspiration: Beauty and the Beast

11. A Thousand Nights by E.K. Johnston


Inspiration: One Thousand and One Nights

12. Fairest by Gail Carson Levine


Inspiration: Snow White

My favourite of all Levine’s books, Fairest is a Snow White-esque story plus gnomes, ogres, and lots of singing. It’s basically a Disney movie in a book—what more could you wish for?

What retellings have enchanted you? Share them with us below!



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