Just a Few Unusual Fairy Tale Retellings

I know we’ve been over this before, but I’m here to say it again: I love a good retelling! Fairy tales and myths are some of my favourite stories. They are timeless and transformative and irresistible- which is why I will always love fairy tale retellings. I’ve shared some cool ones before and now I’m showcasing even more! This time, I’m going to be focusing on some unusual ones that feature tales we don’t see being adapted often (and hopefully a few you haven’t come across before!) Let’s get to it!

Echo North– one of the best books I read last year, this gorgeous book combines two fairy tales: Beauty and the Beast and East of the Sun West of the Moon. And as I’m not particularly familiar with the latter, it felt even more fresh and dazzling. With original concepts and a unique way of characterising the female lead, this wasn’t your every day YA.

Uprooted– it’s hard to make Beauty and the Beast seem new and original- and yet Novik’s immersive Russian take does exactly that. Hate-to-love at its finest, this is unquestionably stunning.  

Bloody Chamber– for something a little bit more adult, I have to insist on trying this creepy collection. Simultaneously deconstructing and venerating the originals, this divinely written work is well worth a read.

Winter Rose– a retelling of Tam Lin, this atmospheric book had me sold from the start. I felt wrapped up in the tendrils of this enchanted forest setting. It’s simply beautifully written and reimagined. 

Owl Service– drawing from Welsh folklore, this is one of the most unusual books I’ve ever read. Uncanny and different, it’s like it was possessed by mythology rather than simply retelling an old tale again and again. This is trippy in the very best of ways.

Medusa– okay this one’s not a fairy tale per se, but it fits into the mythic theme and is definitely a book that springs to mind when I want to talk about newer retellings. Aside from the gorgeous illustrations, this is one of those retellings that manages to make us genuinely sympathise with the villain. Using real elements from history, this transforms the original story of Medusa into something every girl can relate to. It has a distinctly modern feel, whilst also being true to the realities of ancient Greece. I just love how this allows us to see the gorgons with new eyes and a modern vision.

Thorn– goose girl is one of those stories that doesn’t get adapted nearly as often as others- and this adaptation also happens to be an absolute delight. What I especially like is how it explores the question of the heroine’s victimhood and challenges our very perceptions of passivity. This isn’t a story about yet another kickass heroine punching her way to victory- but a quieter more profound story of what we are willing to sacrifice for others. I feel like its distinctive morality strikes to the heart of what fairy tales are really about.

The Princess and the Fangirl- every instalment of the Once Upon a Con retelling series is thoroughly enjoyable! Give me all the geeky fairy-tale-inspired stories please! The reason I chose this one is not just because it features a sapphic romance, which doesn’t come up enough in retellings, but because it also happens to be a retelling of the Princess and the Pea… and how often do we get to read one of those?! This is a particularly perfect retelling as well- which is nothing less than I’d expect from a story with a perfectionist theme 😉

The Boy Who Steals Houses– I have never come across another Goldilocks retelling- and it couldn’t have been better- because this one was just right! With a main character you will want to protect with your life and a found family you’ll want to adopt, Boy Who Steals Houses *absolutely* stole my heart!!

Call it What you Want– I don’t read many contemporary retellings OR takes on Robin Hood- and this does both! Not only is it unusual, it’s also extremely well done, with deep character work. It’s my favourite of Kemmerer’s work to date!

And that’s all for now! I’m definitely on the hunt for more! What retellings do you think I should check out next? And what do you think of these? Let me know in the comments!

28 thoughts on “Just a Few Unusual Fairy Tale Retellings

  1. I love a good retelling! The Bloody Chamber is one of the books that I actually enjoyed when I studied it in school. I haven’t heard of lots of these other titles though so I’ll definitely be checking them out – thank you for sharing! 📚❤️ X x x

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  2. Ohh goldilock & robin hood, I still have yet to read more retellings- definately something I haven’t touched too much 😅 Also all my yesses for nerdy retellings!! Ive read geekerella but have yet to read the others

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  3. I love your painting of Red Riding Hood! You’re so talented!! This is a great list. I do want to read The Winter Rose and Thorn, and I loved Uprooted and the Once Upon a Con books! I’d add pretty much anything by Robin McKinley, and I really liked Christina Henry’s The Girl in Red too.

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  4. Great list! Echo North interests me the most of the ones you’ve listed, since East of the Sun West of the Moon is my favorite fairy tale EVER. I’ve seen a few retellings of it lately, but so far I’ve only read one of them.

    And I loved The Princess and the Fangirl, too! It’s not often you see a retelling of The Prince and the Pauper.

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  5. I really need to get into retellings in general, and I feel like fairy tale retellings would honestly be such a great place to start. If I picked up a classic lit retelling, on the other hand, I think I might end up having a really negative reaction that would set me off retellings as a whole. Does that make any sense?! :’)

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  6. Not a retelling per se but you might like The Wild Girl by Kate Forsyth. It about Dortchen Wild who live next door to the Brothers Grimm and how she help them find fairly tales to write down.

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