24 Captivating Fairy Tale Retellings for Adults & YA

17 Captivating Fairy Tale Retellings for Adults

I have such a weak spot for fairy tale retellings. If a book says it’s a retelling, you can bet I’ll be purchasing it.

Whether it’s a Beauty and the Beast retelling, a new twist on Peter Pan, or a sci-fi version of Cinderella, you’ll find it on the list below.

But when it comes to the best fairy tale retellings, A Court of Thorns and Roses, Spinning Silver, and Kaikeyi are probably our favorites. Check out those and more below.

*The fairy tale retellings post contains affiliate links. Purchases made through links result in a small commission to us at no cost to you.

Beauty and the Beast Retellings

Nocture and more February 2023 book releases

Nocturne by Alyssa Wees

I absolutely adored this pick for best fantasy books of 2023 because it’s pure magic at its best. What starts as a historical fiction set in Chicago in the 1930s transforms into a beautiful fantasy about a ballerina, her violin, and the kingdom of death.

When Grace becomes the prima ballerina at The Near North Ballet Company, she is overjoyed that her dream has come true. In accepting this position, she has become a patron of master LaRosa and must move into his mansion.

This Beauty and the Beast retelling is perfect for a list of books like ACOTAR. It is beautiful and absolutely heartbreaking. The writing is lyrical and I savored every minute. It is perfect for anyone who loves to read books like The Night Circus. You will obsess over this haunting pick from ultimate beach reads 2023.

court of thorns and roses

A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas

This book has a cult-like following for a reason. The first book in the series is a loose fairy tale retelling of Beauty and the Beast set in the world of Prythian. Magical creatures, humans, and fae are all prominent in the book.

When Feyre kills a wolf in the words, a creature arrives to her house to drag her to a magical land that she has only heard about in stories told to terrify children. Now, she is to remain a captor of Tamlin, a fae, as retribution.

This is a fast-paced, addicting, fantasy romance series with a love triangle that develops by the end of the novel. Book two is jaw-dropping! This series is on its way to becoming a classic that you will want to binge in one week.

While this book is technically a YA fantasy series, the books become very steamy and we see this as one of the best fantasy books for adults as well. We are so excited this is going to be one of the Hulu book adaptations.

Find this book in Books Like ACOTAR / Sarah J. Maas Books / Enemies-to-Lovers/ YA Fantasy / Best Romance Novels of all Time.

meant to be

By the Book by Jasmine Guillory

Isabelle was overjoyed when she landed her dream job in publishing as an editorial assistant. She is also the only Black employee. She has been waiting for a promotion for two years and decides she will earn that by going to the mansion of a celebrity with an overdue memoir. All she has to do is give him the right pep talk to encourage him to write the book.

This task is not as easy as it seems. Beau is standoffish, stubborn, and difficult. Soon Izzy finds herself living in his house and helping him with his book. The forced proximity helps her find something that she needs as well- the confidence to ask for what she wants. You’ll love this fairy tale retelling of Beauty and the Beast!

Find this book in Grumpy Sunshine / Jasmine Guillory Books/ Fairy Tale Retellings

uprooted

Uprooted by Naomi Novik

Wow!  This book is an epic adult fairy tale.  It is complex and so unlike any traditional American fairy tale retelling.  An enchanted wood, magic, and mythical creatures grab you and pull you in. This is not a typical damsel-in-distress tale so do not let it fool you.

Agnieszka lives next to a wood filled with dark powers. The village depends on the Dragon to protect them from these dark powers. In exchange, one woman from the village must go and serve him every ten years. To everyone’s surprise, he chooses Agnieszka.

I don’t want to say more about this book and ruin its magic. But, if you love fairy tale retellings or are looking for books like ACOTAR, this is a perfect pick.

Romancing the Duke

Romancing The Duke by Tessa Dare

Tessa Dare’s stories are some of my favorite romances. She always finds ways to inject humor into her books. This particular book is the first in a series in which a man dies and leaves a castle to each of our heroines, who are known spinsters.

In this story, Izzy wants to be a writer so retreats to her castle to write her novels. Meanwhile, Ransom shows up to the castle he still believes is rightfully his. Hilarity and romance ensue. I loved this romantic fairy tale retelling based on Beauty and the Beast.

A Curse so Dark and Lonely

A Curse So Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmererir?source=bk&t=beyondth06 20&bm id=default&l=ktl&linkId=ab68078db1465da19076d014e383dea9& cb=1590787287915

This is a fantasy retelling of Beauty and the Beast and I read it for a buddy read with some bookstagram friends. I love that the modern retelling of some of the classics give more power to the women in the story.  

I enjoyed this first in the series of YA fantasy romance books although it is a lot tamer than the ⁣other books in the series.  It is not a typical Beauty and the Beast retelling because it has more of a  love triangle but, I don’t want to reveal more.⁣ It’s the first in the series about Prince Rhen and his kingdom.

Find this book in Books Like Cinder / Books like A Court of Thorns and Roses,

hunted

Hunted by Meagan Spooner

I read this as research for our Books to Read if You Love A Court of Thorns and Roses post. It’s another Beauty and the Beast retelling, except this Beauty is more like Katniss Everdeen. No ballgowns or talking tea-pots, just a female huntress out to avenge her father’s death and free the beast from his prison.

Light on the romance, heavy on the hunting descriptions. Yet there was a charm in this young adult fantasy set in the wilds of Russia that I found as captivating as the magical firebird in the story.

We have more Beauty and The Beast Retellings on our list of books like A Court of Thorns and Roses.

Cinderella Retellings

Cinder

Cinder by Melissa Meyer

This four-book series is set in the future in a time of disease and war.  This series is part twisted fairy tale, part dystopia, and part sci-fi fantasy.  

Cinderella, Red Riding Hood, and Rapunzel are re-imagined as you have never seen them before. All of them are smart and strong women far from the helpless damsels in distress we know them to be. 

The first in this series of classic book retellings introduces us to Cinder.  She is a cyborg (part human, part machine) who lives with her……..you guessed it….. two step-sisters and stepmother.

Find this book in Books Like Cinder / YA Dystopian Books / YA Romance Fantasy Books / Best Teen Fantasy / Books Like The Selection

THrone of Glass

Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas

This epic book series from Sarah J. Maas was started when Sarah was still a teenager! It’s all about Celaena, an imprisoned assassin who is offered freedom by acting as the champion for Prince Dorian.

As she prepares to earn her freedom in the competition, she begins training sessions with the captain of the guard. As she tries to acclimate to court life, the prince is drawn to her, and a love triangle forms.

The YA fantasy series gets better and better with each book! A total must-read if you are looking for books like ACOTAR and a must-read if you love fae books. Or head over to our guide on all of Sarah J. Maas’s books.

Ella Enchanted and more amazing fantasy books for tweens

Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine

This book is a fairy tale retelling of Cinderella. A fairy named Lucinda puts a curse on Ella that requires her to do whatever anyone tells her to do. Lucinda thought that she was helping Ella’s mother because she would not stop crying.

As Ella gets older, she being to attend a boarding school where she tried to make friends. She realizes, she needs to rid herself of this gift so that she can stop doing the horrible things that other people make her do.

This is one of the middle-grade fairy tale retellings that my daughter reads over and over again.

11 books to read if you loved The Lunar Chronicles

Amazing Books Like the Lunar Chronicles to Read Now!

If you are looking for more fairytale retellings, check out this list of books like Cinder

Peter Pan Retellings

Peter and the Starcatchers

Peter and the Starcatchers by Dave Berry

This Peter Pan retelling finds Peter aboard a ship of sailors. He and a bunch of other orphans aboard the ship have to protect a treasure locked in a chest hidden on the ship from pirate captain Black Stache.

Think of this as the origin story of Tinkerbell, her fairy dust, and how Peter gained his ability to fly. It’s one of our favorite fairy tale retellings and is the perfect book for a 13-year-old. We are sure that any age will love this YA fantasy novel.

darling girl

Darling Girl: A Novel of Peter Pan by Liz Michalski

This classic fairy tale retelling of Peter Pan is anything but innocent and whimsical. In this adult fantasy novel, Holly Darling, the Granddaughter of Wendy, runs a very successful skincare company. She is a single parent to Jack after a terrible accident killed her husband and Jack’s twin.

When she gets a call that her daughter Eden is missing from the home where she has been hidden away in a coma for a decade, she knows that Peter Pan is the one responsible.

Peter Pan is dark, sinister and grown-up. Holly must get Christopher Cooke to help her find her daughter and defeat Peter. Like all retellings of classic novels, this story is different from the original!

lost in the never woods

Lost in the Never Woods by Aiden Thomas

I loved this unique Peter Pan story that had me thinking about the true meaning of Neverland and the stories of the lost boys. Wendy Darling and her parents have never been able to move on after her brothers disappeared mysteriously five years ago.

Wendy has no memories of the 6 months she was gone and no explanation for why she came home and her brothers didn’t. Now, as children start to go missing again, it feels too similar to be a coincidence.

This is a smart, well-written, well-thought-out, twisted Peter Pan fairy tale retelling. This pick is perfect for a list of the best teen fantasy books and it is also one of the best paranormal books for teens.

Sleeping Beauty Retellings

Briar Rose and more books by Jewish writers

Briar Rose by Jane Yolen

This historical fiction book for teens was such an unexpected beauty for me.  Books about the Holocaust are most often inherently extremely heavy.  I love the way this book is a fairy tale retelling of Briar Rose (AKA Sleeping Beauty) that turns it into a story about the Holocaust. 

It does not trivialize the atrocities of that time but rather, it makes the subject more approachable to a younger audience.  Beautifully written and well done. This is one of the books for a 13-year-old that adults will love and a must-read from WWII books for kids!

Spindle splintered

A Spindle Splinter by Alex E. Harrow

This is the story of sleeping beauty like you have never read it before. This is a true twisted fairy tale Zinnia is turning 21 and it is the last birthday that she will have. She has a rare medical condition in which nobody has ever lived past twenty-one. Zinnia has always thought that she is a modern sleeping beauty.

Charm, Zinnia’s best friend, wants to make the last birthday special but, when Zinnia pricks her finger on the spinning wheel, she finds herself in another dimension with another sleeping beauty.

This modern Sleeping Beauty fairy tale retelling gives power back to the women whose lives are stolen. It is a quick read from ya fantasy books that I loved because the women are no longer helpless.

Other Fairy Tale Retellings

Kaikeyi and more goodreads choice awards 2022 books

Kaikeyi by Vaishnavi Patel

I love a good mythology retelling, but usually, I read Greek mythology. Kaikeyi is a retelling of a story well-known in the Hindu religion.

While I can’t attest to the accuracy of the tale, I can say that I was utterly captivated by the story of Kaikeyi’s life. I learned that she is a villain in Hindu but I found Patel’s narrative so compelling that I felt for Kaikeyi and supported all of her decisions.

If you are a fan of Ariadne, Circe, or other fairy tale retellings, you must pick up this book. It’s wonderful.

bear and the nightingale

The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine  Arden

This YA fantasy book which is based on Russian folklore was a slow build.  I wasn’t sure about it until about halfway through when I couldn’t put it down.  In fact, I went out to buy the sequel (The Girl in the Tower) immediately because I needed to find out what had happened. 

Vasya lives with her family on the edge of a Russian forest where they hear stories of the Blue-eyed winter demon and honor household spirits. When Vasya’s dad brings home a new stepmother who forbids these practices, misfortunes follow. Vasya now must use the gifts that she has kept hidden all these years.

wicked

Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West by Gregory Maguire

Everyone knows the Wicked Witch of the West but not everyone knows how she became that way. She wasn’t always bad. This is the story of a girl that would grow up to become one of the most hated villains in history.

This is the story that inspired the hit broadway musical! Its one of the OG fairy tale retellings.

Spinning silver

Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik

I adored this YA fantasy book by Novik. I loved the strong female characters, the story, and the writing.  This book is a classic retelling of Rumplestiltskin that is complex and wonderful and the ending had me in tears.

Miryem’s family are moneylenders but her family is in poverty because her father does not collect his debts. In an effort to save her family, Miryem begins collecting the debts herself and soon a rumor begins that she can turn silver into gold. Soon, these rumors spread to the king of Staryk, and Miryem’s life changes forever when he comes to see if the rumors are true.

Find this book in YA Fantasy Books / The Best Winter Books / Fairy Tale Retellings / Books with Colors in the Title

girl serpent thorn

Girl, Serpent, Thorn by Melissa Bashardoust

“There was and there was not.” This fairy tale retelling is about a girl cursed with being poisonous to anyone who touches her and her quest to free herself from her curse.

What could have been another princess in distress story became a story about finding your own power and using it in this young adult fantasy novel

Heartless

Heartless by Marissa Meyer

Marissa Meyer is the queen of the twisted fairy tale retelling.  This story tells us about the famous queen in Alice’s Wonderland who is always yelling “Off with his head!”. It is original, well thought out, and fun to read.

Like other fairy tale retellings, this is one of the best books like the Lunar Chronicles series.

For more books like these, check out our list of 26 Adult Retellings of Disney Classics.

King Arthur Retellings

Half Sick of Shadows and more fae books

Half Sick of Shadows by Laura Sebastian

Lady Elaine tells this retelling of Arthurian legend. I loved hearing this tale retold because I’ve long been a fan of The Mists of Avalon, The Sword and the Stone, Camelot, and the like.

I loved this feminist classic retelling that showed a weaker Arthur supported by the strong, magic-bearing women of the story. Gwen, Morgana, and Elaine’s friendship was the highlight of the story for me.

mists of avalon

The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley

This is a fairy tale retelling of the story of King Arthur, featuring the Lady of the Lake, Paganism vs. Christianity, and an epic struggle for power.

Merlin and the Lady of the Lake practice pagan witchcraft, as they try to keep the old ways alive against the new religion gaining popularity, the choices they make for Arthur’s kingdom inspire the tale we know so well.

Why I Loved it: This was my first high fantasy book series, which I routinely think about. I read it in middle school (which I absolutely shouldn’t have) and devoured this tome in days. It captivated my imagination unlike anything I had ever read before.

The mini-series adaptation of this adult fantasy book is wonderful too and well worth the watch! It’s perfect for our list of Cornwall Books. If you love witch books, you will love this pick.

Find this book in Cornwall Books / Fairy Tale Retellings / Lake Books / Adult Fantasy Novels / Witch Books

legendborn

Legendborn by Tracy Deonn

Why did I not read this book before now? In a way, I’m glad I just read this because I only have to wait a few more months for the sequel in this young adult fantasy series. If you love YA fantasy books, this King Arthur re-imagining is a must-read.

Bree Matthews’s mother died in a tragic accident and she cannot seem to recover. When she has a chance to attend a special program for bright high school students at UNC-Chapel Hill, she jumps at the chance.

When Bree witnesses a magical attack on her first night there, her world is thrown upside down as she enters the world of the Legendborn. It is a secret society of students with powerful magic who are also descendants of King Arthur! This is one of the best re-tellings I have read.

Find this book in fantasy books for Teens / Books About Secret Societies / Dark Academia

More Fairy Tale Retellings

What fairy tale retellings do you plan to read?

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Best YA Fantasy books every fantasy lover needs to read.

Ultimate List of YA Fantasy

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