We all know the essential Cinderella ingredients: evil stepmother, fairy godmother, an epic makeover, and a Prince Charming. But more than anything, Cinderella is the tale of a girl who escapes a nightmare situation to see all her dreams come true with the help of some friends. So is it any wonder people love the classic tale? Thankfully, we can always find more of the things we love. If you find yourself needing more Cinderella stories in your life—or if seeing the latest Cinderella on the big screen has you in the mood—we’ve got you covered. Here are 7 tales that have taken the key elements of Cinderella and twisted them around to make something incredibly new.
Cindy Ella, by Robin Palmer
This modern take on the Cinderella story takes place at an L.A. high school that’s been struck with a severe case of prom fever. Feeling like everyone should take the prom-hysteria down a notch and focus on real world issues, Cindy writes a letter to the school newspaper bashing prom and everything it stands for, effectively committing social suicide. Fortunately, Cindy has still got some folks firmly planted on her side, including the most popular senior, Adam Silver (aka, Cindy’s Prince Charming).
Damsel Distressed, by Kelsey Macke
If you’ve ever felt like you were accidentally cast in the role of ugly stepsister to the perfect Cinderella, this is the book for you. Imogen has been in and out of therapy since the death of her mother. She suffers from depression and anxiety and has a near constant struggle with her weight. When her beautifully perfect/all-around-special-butterfly/bully-extraordinaire stepsister Ella moves in down the hall, Imogen’s mental state starts to spiral. She throws herself into the high school musical, but she doesn’t even get a chance to enjoy her moment in the spotlight before disaster strikes, and her pain threatens to crush her. You’ll cry, you’ll laugh, you’ll walk away feeling better for having spent your time with Imogen.
Ash, by Malinda Lo
Like the classic Cinderella, Ash finds herself at the mercy of her evil stepmother after her father’s untimely death. But that’s pretty much where the similarities end. When Ash meets Sidhean, a dark and dangerous fairy, she believes her dreams of being saved are finally going to come true. But then she meets Kaisa, the King’s Huntress, and Ash’s heart begins to change. She’s faced with the choice between her fairy-tale dreams and her true love. Beautifully and lyrically written, Ash is a welcome and refreshing take on the fairy-tale genre.
Cinderella’s Dress, by Shonna Slayton
While not exactly a retelling, Cinderella’s Dress puts its own twist on Cinderella by following the ancestors of the original characters. Set in NYC during World War II, the books follows Kate, a department store employee trying to help out with the war effort. When Kate’s long-lost family lands on the scene with what they claim to be the real Cinderella’s dress, her life gets complicated quick. Kate has to uncover her family’s hidden past and protect the dress from the descendants of the evil stepsisters. But that ball gown, though.
Cinder, by Marissa Meyer
It’s the cyborg Cinderella story you didn’t know you wanted and now can’t live without. More fast-paced adventure than traditional fairy-tale, the story is set far in the future and stars a cyborg heroine named Cinder. She lives with her stepsisters and evil stepmother after her adoptive father dies from a deadly plague ravaging the population. When Cinder meets Prince Kai, the future emperor of New Beijing, she finds herself right in the middle of an intergalactic struggle and a forbidden romance. Cyborgs + Cinderella + New Beijing, China = the sci-fi fairy tale of your dreams.
Just Ella, by Margaret Peterson Haddix
For those on the younger end of the YA spectrum, Just Ella is all about what happens after the supposed fairy-tale ending. Ella has accepted Prince Charming’s proposal, but she quickly realizes that maybe the whole princess gig isn’t for her when she finds herself trapped in classes devoted to royal etiquette and genealogy. One does not just walk out on a royal wedding, however. Ella must plot her escape and take charge of her own life, mostly through sheer force of will.
Ella Enchanted, by Gail Carson Levine
Another imaginative Cinderella retelling for younger readers, Ella Enchanted takes traditional female roles and turns them on their head. Ella is “gifted” (read: cursed with) obedience, forcing her to obey any order even if it’s a danger to herself. When Ella finally decides she’s had quite enough of that, thank you very much, she sets out on a quest to find her fairy godmother and take control of her own destiny. Along the way she takes on wicked stepsisters, fairy-tale creatures, and handsome princes, eventually earning her own happy ending through tenacity and determination.