6 Awesome Fairytale Retellings That Trip the Tropes

The Shadow QueenMore fairytale retellings? Of course. They are, after all, a YA staple. But these six deliciously dark and decadent takes on familiar stories do much more than update your faves. They bend and twist and reshape them into something strange and stunning, tripping the tropes and making these old stories into something fun and new. Dig into these awesome reimaginings, and you’ll find yourself asking, “Cinderella who?”

The Shadow Queen, by C.J. Redwine
In this Snow White spin, the princess is no quiet, mewling flower. Nope, Lorelai is a fugitive—and one with a mission. She’s out to take down Queen Irina by using the one thing the two have in common: magic. But newly crowned King Kol of the neighboring Eldr is a deadly thorn in her side. He has teamed up with Irina to gain the magic he needs to save his kingdom from ogres, and that means giving the evil queen Lorelai’s heart on a (silver) platter. Of course, the all-consuming attraction between Lorelai and her would-be huntsman could become a slight problem. Fast-paced, fun, and enchanting, this is fairytale flipped.

Ash, by Malinda Lo
A Cinderella update unlike any you’ve seen before, Lo’s Ash spins a dark, lovely take on the tale. Ash feels lost at the hands of her cruel stepmother, but perhaps a pact with the decidedly dangerous fairy Sidhean will help her overcome her circumstances. But it’s her bond with the Queen’s huntress, Kaisa, that is ultimately empowering and redeeming, and worth risking everything for. Lo’s enchanting, exquisite take on the old fairytale leaves you rethinking tropes and norms, all while reveling in breathless storytelling. 

The Forbidden Wish, by Jessica Khoury
Imagine Aladdin’s tale, but told from the perspective of the jinni. Wish does just that, and it’s a wild ride. Zahra is Shaitan, all-powerful and ancient. Only problem? She has been trapped in that confounding lamp for more than 500 years, banished after betraying her beloved master the Queen. When Aladdin frees her at last, he’s just another boy, a thief, nothing special—right? But the jinni finds herself spiraling back into a place where she lets her emotions get the better of her, and this time, it might just mean the end. Moody, gorgeous writing and a slowburn love story that will have you flipping pages as fast as you can.

The Star-Touched Queen, by Roshani Chokshi
Maya isn’t like other princesses. She spends most of her time eavesdropping on matters of court instead of dolling herself up and dreaming of marriage. After all, she knows her match would mean destruction for anyone who chooses her—death and darkness are written in her stars. But when her beloved, distant father asks her to make the ultimate sacrifice to help save his kingdom, she’s on the verge of giving in. Until she meets Amar, the King of Akaran, and realizes they might just be a match made in heaven—or hell. A spin on the Greek myth of Hades and Persephone melded with the magic of Indian folklore, Star-Touched is riveting, chock full of flesh-eating (but fun!) horses, jeweled gardens, and a love that just might destroy the world.

The Trouble With Chasing Mermaids, by Sarah Ockler
A young and talented former singer, Elyse fears she may have lost not just her voice but her happiness after a tragic accident. But her time spent in the lovely seaside hamlet of Atargatis Cove (named after the fairytale mermaid, of course) on the Oregon coast might just help her take the tentative first steps toward recovery, especially when she meets brash, charming Christian Kane. He pulls her into a mission to repair his boat and sail in the high-stakes Pirate Regatta. But can she face her fears and reclaim her voice? Myth and legend flavor this retelling with a touch of magic and wonder.

The Wrath And the Dawn, by Renée Ahdieh
Ahdieh’s Wrath is a lush, decadent take on A Thousand And One Nights, centering on Shazi, a sharp, petulant protagonist hellbent on taking down the murderous Caliph of Khorasan, responsible for the death of her cousin and countless other wives he killed on their wedding nights. She enraptures him with her stories, but finds herself making a mistake that might just cost her everything—falling in love. The sequel to Ahdieh’s astonishing debut hits shelves in May, but for those desperate for more of her delicious worldbuilding and simmering love story, there are a few novellas to tide you over.


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