HOW IS THAT FOR A MOTHER FLIPPIN’ TITLE? Here’s the thing. I love fairytale retellings. But guess what? I’m not super into the Disney versions of the stories.
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I know, I know.
Can you even be a nerdy adult and mention that you aren’t super into Disney? For the record, I don’t hate Disney. I’ve seen a lot of their movies.
I will admit that I have not seen them all. In fact, there is a whole slew of movies that came out in the second half of the 1990s and early 2000s that I have not seen. What can I say? I was born in the 1980s, and my generation didn’t have that hella extended childhood that the kids these days have.
That, or I just grew up too fast. Who even knows?
I know which one it is. I was basically 8 going on 45. When the only praise or attention you get is for being calm, quiet, and “mature for your age,” you make that your whole personality. This mostly looked like reading books from the adult section of the library at 10, and only asking for clothes and books for birthdays and Christmas from like the second grade on.
Please don’t worry about me. I’m actively reparenting my inner child and remembering that I get to be silly and fun and childish if I want to be. Also, I may just buy myself this toy because it’s super neat and I want it and it tickles all the little parts of my brain that remember how to be fun.
I will say that as a young child, I really loved The Sword in the Stone and Robin Hood. I know Disney had a whole-ass renaissance in the 1990s of princess fairytale retellings, but I literally do not care.8 Fairytale Retellings for People Who Don't Care Much for Disney Click To Tweet
And honestly, I think I may have been predisposed to liking medieval stories that take place in western Europe? Like, this explains why my entire identity in high school was liking King Arthur, and then going off to major in English Writing with a focus in British Lit.
On the bookcase in my living room, I have a copy of Grimm’s Complete Fairytales that my granny gave me probably 25 or so years ago. It’s not a special edition or anything, and I’m pretty sure it was on one of those sale tables at Barnes and Noble. But I love everything about it, and I read it voraciously because I loved fairytales with teeth.
So, if you want to read a fairytale where you don’t secretly wish to be the villain because they have the best songs, check out this list. And I’m pretty sure you can enjoy these fairytale retellings even if you’re a Disney fiend.
(Side note: Before we go further, I would like to say that Disney has always been Disney, but like, it wasn’t so aggressively marketed as it is now. So growing up, I never thought much about Disney World or anything like that, and it was something that kids with rich parents did, not kids like me. And while I think it looks like a great experience, I do sincerely hate how much of being a Disney fan looks like just being a materialistic consumer. Obviously, this is my opinion as someone who has never had a real connection with the brand, so I get if this sounds crazy to you. But it’s super weird to me how it seems to have become a part of growing up in the U.S. in the past 10 years, even though it seems financially impossible for like, 98% of the people who live here.)
The Best Fairytale Retellings
Have you ever wanted to read fairytale retellings set in a science fictiony-sort of future? Here you go, friend.
This series contains retellings of Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, Rapunzel, and Snow White. And probably my favorite little piece of info about this series is that it all started with some fan fic. Yep. That’s right.
The author of this series entered a Sailor Moon fan fic contest in 2008, and part of the contest was choosing elements to work with for your story entry. She chose using Puss in Boots as the base, and the other choice was to set it in the future. Thus, the idea for the series was born!
I love Naomi Novik. The His Majesty’s Dragon series is probably the most pleasant way to imagine the Napoleonic Wars, and if you like alternate history, check out that series, gang.
Uprooted isn’t a strict retelling, but on this blog, we stan Baba Yaga, so obviously I had to include a story that featured her. There are tons of references to Polish culture in this book, and there’s also a dragon. This is definitely a good option if you feel you’ve been beaten over the head with Cinderella stories and want something with higher stakes and more danger.On this blog, we stan Baba Yaga. Click To Tweet
I haven’t picked this one up yet, but I did love The Once and Future Witches by this author.
This is a modern retelling of Sleeping Beauty, and also has some travel through various worlds. And if it’s anything like Harrow’s other books, it’s going to be full of detail and probably accurate historical information you didn’t even know you needed.
If you like feminist themes and strong female friendships, I recommend reading everything by this author.
Full disclosure: I’m friends with this writer. We go way back to an adult education writing class at good ol’ Moore-Norman Tech. She comes to my house and we work on writing stuff sometimes.
But even so, I love everything about this Tam Lin retelling. Katie’s style is the best. It’s pretty and lyrical and the sort of thing that I wish I could do. Her style is dreamy and immersive, and there are moments in her writing when you just fall through the words and into the story.
She’s good, gang.
This is book one in a series, and isn’t strictly a retelling, though it does contain some mythological elements. If you are looking for fantasy that doesn’t use western Europe (or a facsimile thereof) as the setting, I’m going to recommend this story wholeheartedly.
Admittedly, I’ve only read the work the author has done for comic books, but I’m super excited to read this one. It follows Doctor Adoulla Makhslood as he’s forced to face a dark sorcerer, even though he’d prefer to retire and drink cardamom tea.
Relatable, Doc. Relatable.
Look. I know I’m late to the game, here. But I recently read Magic Lessons, and now I’m a full on Alice Hoffman freak.
Admittedly, I had seen Practical Magic back in the day, but didn’t much care for it. It’s not a bad story, but the pacing of the movie wasn’t quite right to me. After reading Magic Lessons, though, I’m pretty sure I must read Practical Magic.
Hoffman’s style is perfectly paced and her writing is so detailed. I love how she can make love so incendiary and mundane. And I especially love how resolute her characters are. This is a very fairytale-esque sort of story, without actually being under the category of fairytale retellings. But the vibes are there, gang, so we’re going with it.
I used to own this book. I have vivid memories of reading it, and what the cover looked like. But for the life of me, I can’t remember anything about it. That’s what happens when you read too much, kids.
This doesn’t quite fit into the category of fairytale retellings. But it’s definitely fairytale retelling adjacent. The story follows David after his mother dies. His only friends are books (relatable) and suddenly, the lines between fantasy and reality start to blur. I recommend this for anyone who has ever used books and the escape they offer to get through hard times.Looking for fairytale retellings or fairytale-esque stories? Here you go! Click To Tweet
I’ve been a fan of Daniel’s writing since he managed The Toast back in the day. And if you like dry wit, I think you’ll like his writing too.
Have you ever wondered if you can make fairytale retellings somehow more gruesome than their originals? You can, and this book does. So, I will say this short story collection isn’t for people who like soft stories and want to feel good when they’re done.
YOU WILL NOT GET THAT WITH THIS COLLECTION.
Instead, pick this up if you want to be absolutely shocked.
Now Accepting Fairytale Retellings Recommendations!
Do you have a fairytale retelling you love? Which fairytale retellings can you not live without? Drop them in the comments!
And before you go, check out these other book round-ups you may enjoy: