Welcome to our book review page! Below you can find summaries and quick reviews of some of our favorite YA fairy tale retellings. They're listed chronologically to give an idea of the way fairy tale retellings in young adult have trended over the last 20 years.

Young Adult fairy tale retellings seem to have increased in popularity over the course of these 20 years. Jacques Barchilon (1988) suggests that the fairy tale itself "belongs in its own special realm; it thrives in between ... childhood and adulthood" (p. 223). This in between space that fairy tales inhabit seems to enhance their appeal for young adults and young adult authors. Other than the increase in popularity, there are a number of other trends we noticed as well. There is a predominance of female authors and a focus on a female audience, as was noted on our home page, particularly with a focus on strong, independent heroines. Cinderella seems to be the most often retold story, closely followed by Beauty and the Beast and Sleeping Beauty. There has also been a move toward more realistic or contemporary settings, though a traditional fairy tale setting hasn't been completely cast aside.

In the reviews we've highlighted which fairy tale each book retells or if it's a crossover, tying in multiple stories. The titles are linked to WorldCat.org, where more information on each book can be found, and the authors are linked to their author pages (where available).

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Yolen, Jane. (1992). Briar Rose. New York: Tor Books. 224 pages.
Retelling of Sleeping Beauty
Rebecca Berlin grew up loving the story of Briar Rose, told to her by her Grandmother, Gemma. Before Gemma dies, she tells Becca that the story is true and that she is Briar Rose. claim leads Becca to want to learn more about her grandmother's life before arriving in America during World War II. She discovers that Gemma was a survivor of a Polish concentration camp, and, despite initial skepticism from her family, Becca travels abroad to uncover the truth behind her favorite story.

This powerful retelling of Sleeping Beauty is divided into two parts: Home (Set in the 1990's) and The Castle (set during World War II). Yolen also uses flashbacks of Becca's childhood to relay Gemma's story of Briar Rose.
Reviewed by Amy

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Donoghue, Emma. (1997). Kissing the Witch: Old Tales in New Skins. New York: Joanna Cotler Books. 228 pages.
Short Story Retellings
In this collection of short, reinvented fairy tales, Emma Donoghue's characters make choices vastly different than those they made in the traditional version of their stories. In "The Tale of the Voice," a retelling of "The Little Mermaid," the heroine realizes that, in giving up her voice in exchange for being with her supposed true love, she has no power to speak up against his patronizing and adulterous ways. With the help of her family, she gets her voice back from the witch and returns home. In "The Tale of the Cottage," a new version of "Hansel and Gretel," the young girl saves her brother but decides she would rather take her chances with the witch than with the parents who threw her away. And in "The Tale of the Shoe," a reimagining of "Cinderella," the unnamed narrator enjoys her taste of luxury but decides that she loves her fairy godmother instead of the prince.

Donoghue's female characters in Kissing the Witch are refreshingly powerful. They aren't afraid to question what is expected of them and go against convention. Teen girls who feel frustrated by the passivity of traditional fairy tale princesses will be pleased by this collection. Donoghue uses figurative language beautifully, so much so that this book reads almost like poetry.
Reviewed by Tracy

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McKinley, Robin. (1998). Rose Daughter. New York: ACE. 304 pages.
Retelling of Beauty and the Beast
Rose Daughter is a retelling of the fairytale Beauty and the Beast in which Robin McKinley told the story of a wealthy widower and his three daughters. The eldest daughter's name is Lionheart, the middle daughter is Jeweltongute, and the youngest's name is Beauty. Their names are a representation of their individual personality. All three daughters had different personalities and enjoyed doing different things for fun. The father's business failed, which left them nothing but only a small country named Rose Cottage. Humbled by their new lives, the daughters enjoyed the Rose Cottage. While Beauty took care of the cottage roses, she brought the dying roses back to life. Further into the story, Beauty arrives at the Beast's palace and discovers his roses were dying, so she sets to work with the friendly animals in the garden to restore the dying roses.

This is a truer fairytale version of the Beauty and the Beast story most people know. Compared to the original Beauty and the Beast, Rose Daughter is more original, as in this version McKinley was able to use originality in describing the plot of the story by including the hardships the family faced and how Beauty changed their lives. McKinley was able to captivate the readers with words using beautiful descriptions of the images which help the readers use their imagination.
Reviewed by Margaret

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Vande Velde, Vivian. (2000). The Rumplestiltskin Problem. New York: Houghton Mifflin. 116 pages.
Short Story Retellings of Rumplestiltskin
Vivian Vande Velde found the story of Rumplestiltskin to be flawed, so she set out to fix the problem. The result was this book containing six short stories all retelling the classic tale with new twists. In these stories, Rumplestiltskin makes appearances in many forms: as a troll, a hero, and even an old woman.

The stories are lively and entertaining, and the author's witty style make it a great read.
Reviewed by Amy

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Viguie, Debbie. (2003). Midnight Pearls. New York: Simon Pulse. 198 pages.
Retelling of the Little Mermaid
When Finneas, a renowned fisherman in his community, finds a young girl treading water during a storm who's gripping a pearl, he takes her in and raises her as if she were his own daughter. As Pearl grows up, she finds herself drawn to the sounds of the ocean and quite a prince -- until a couple more marriage proposals arise, and she needs to figure out if she's human or something else.

This take on the Little Mermaid will have readers stumped as they try to figure out which character most resembles Disney's "Ariel." The story of marriage proposals, a variety of near-death experiences, and a sense of belonging will have readers drawn in through the very last page.
Reviewed by Christie

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Napoli, Donna Jo. (2004). Bound. New York: Atheneum Books for Young Readers. 186 pages.
Retelling of Cinderella
Xing Xing, a girl living in Ancient China, is trapped by circumstance: her father is dead, and she is forced to live with a cruel stepmother and a distant stepsister who is made miserable by a badly done foot binding. Xing Xing is treated like a slave rather than a daughter. But at the same time, Xing Xing feels protected, because she believes that the spirits of her parents are watching over her and guiding her. When Xing Xing comes to believe that a beautiful carp in the river is actually a reincarnation of her mother, things start to change for her, and she feels empowered to fight against the evil actions of her stepmother.

Napoli creates a wonderful sense of suspense and impending danger that will keep the teen reader glued to the page. Her handling of the stepsister character is also interesting - in most traditional Cinderella stories, the stepsister is almost as much of a villain as the stepmother, but in Bound Xing Xing feels nothing but pity for her stepsister, and the two girls even become friendly by the end of the book.
Reviewed by Tracy

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Kantor, Melissa. (2005). If I Have a Wicked Stepmother, Where's My Prince?. New York: Hyperion Books. 283 pages.
Retelling of Cinderella
Lucy Norton feels like Cinderella and not in a good way. When her father remarries, she moves across the country to live with them, gaining a stepmother and two spoiled stepsisters. She sleeps on an air mattress in the basement, her father has no time for her, and her stepmother overwhelms her with chores. After Lucy thinks she has found her Prince Charming, she realizes there may be another way to get her fairy tale ending.

Kantor does a great job of depicting the difficulties of blended families and teen issues in this modern Cinderella story. The author's humor and the elements of teen romance make it an enjoyable read.
Reviewed by Amy

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McKinley, Robin. (2005). Beauty. New York: Eos. 336 pages.
Retelling of Beauty and the Beast
When Roderick goes on a journey into town, he takes a detour through the woods, finds an enchanted castle, and is treated to everything he desires. He forgets to ask for rose seeds, so he steals from the beast's garden. As a punishment for stealing, the beast says that Roderick must return in a month with one of his daughters. Honor, commonly known as Beauty, says she'll go. She and the beast spend time together and gradually become close companions, so when she sees through a looking glass that her sister's missing lover is safe and sound, she asks if she can leave the castle and tell her family the news. If she doesn't return in a week, the beast tells her that he will die. Now the question is: will Beauty go back to the castle?

Honor/Beauty isn't a cookie cutter princess type; she's a relatable girl with a family and one who shares her feelings. Beauty incorporates not only the story of a girl and a beast, but also her sisters' and father's stories. Robin McKinley's descriptions of the castle, the forest, and even the weather, fill this Beauty & the Beast story with incredible imagery. Beauty preceded the Disney film adaptation, but a lot of similarities exist between the two.
Reviewed by Christie

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Shusterman, Neal. (2005). Red Rider's Hood. darkfusion: Book 2. New York: Dutton Children's Books. 181 pages.
Retelling of Little Red Riding Hood
Now that he has his license and the Mustang he rebuilt himself, Red loves delivering packages to his grandmother. But on this particular day he finds himself caught up in a fight with the local gang who call themselves the Wolves. However, nothing is what it seems: not the Wolves, his grandmother, or even Marissa, the girl he's falling for who also happens to be the sister of one of the gang members. When Red has to go undercover into the gang he finds himself caught between his loyalty to his grandmother and everything he thought he believed in and the power of the new family he's become a part of without even realizing it.

Although this is Book 2, it can easily be read on its own and has a little something for everyone. Set in a contemporary neighborhood, with the addition of fantasy and horror elements, and even a touch of romance, Red Rider's Hood is the story of a teen's struggle with loyalty, regret, family, and the consequences of the choices he makes.
Reviewed by Rebecca

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Dokey, Cameron. (2006), Golden. New York: Simon Pulse. 179 pages.
Retelling of Rapunzel
Upon Rapunzel's birth, her mother declares that she could never love such a child, for Rapunzel is bald and will never grow hair. Rapunzel is taken in by the sorceress Melisande, and the two live peacefully together for many years. Rapunzel admires Melisande for her kindness and her honesty. But on her 16th birthday, Rapunzel learns that Melisande has a shocking secret: she has another daughter who needs Rapunzel's help, and Rapunzel must decide whether she is willing to make personal sacrifices in order to save a girl whose existence has been hidden from her.

Golden will be appealing to teens because it avoids many fairy tale stereotypes, and Dokey's characters are better developed than those in most traditional fairy tales. A handsome prince only makes a brief appearance, and he is quite a bumbling one at that. Both Rapunzel and Rue, the daughter trapped in the tower, are feisty heroines who have minds of their own and aren't afraid to stand up for what they want.
Reviewed by Tracy

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Levine, Gail Carson. (2006). //Fairest//. New York: HarperCollins. 352 pages. Audiobook version (2007). Syracuse: Full Cast Audio.
Retelling of Snow White
Aza has always felt like she didn't belong. She is tall, awkward, pale, and convinced she is thoroughly ugly. Her voice is the only thing that even starts to make up for her physical flaws, and since singing is such an important part of life in the kingdom of Ayortha, her voice is the one thing that helps her fit in. She catches the interest of the prince, but the new queen is also intrigued and Aza has a difficult decision to make when the queen asks her for a dangerous favor.

Levine is one of the queens of fairy tale retellings. Best known for Ella Enchanted, this author spins her own take on Snow White with dangerous twists and humorous songs that will capture the reader's imagination. The audiobook version features a full cast and everything sung in the book is translated into beautiful song, sung by the narrators of the book. While reading this is fun, listening to it is an enchanting experience you will never forget.
Reviewed by Rebecca

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Medley, Linda. (2006). Castle Waiting. Seattle: Fantagraphics Books. 457 pages.
Crossover Retelling
This inventive graphic novel begins as a retelling of Sleeping Beauty, complete with good and bad witches and a cursed spinning wheel. But when Princess Medora is finally awoken and whisked away by her handsome prince, the abandoned castle becomes a refuge for an odd group of medieval misfits. A new resident, a lady with a mysterious past who gives birth to a very peculiar baby, captures everyone's hearts. Each character begins to tell her about themselves and how their life's journey brought them to the castle.

Castle Waiting is a witty tale full of medieval lore and clever fairy tale jokes. Several fairy tale characters make cameo appearances, and observant readers will be able to pick out some common fairy tale themes. Teens who are fans of the Shrek movies will respond to the humor of Castle Waiting.
Reviewed by Tracy

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Hale, Shannon & Hale, Dean. (2008). Rapunzel's Revenge. New York: Bloomsbury. 144 pages.
Retelling of Rapunzel
Rapunzel was raised in a beautiful villa by Mother Gothel, but on her twelfth birthday she climbs the wall and discovers the truth: Mother Gothel keeps the entire kingdom in slavery and misery, keeping her growth magic to herself and populace in poverty. After four years locked up because of her rebellion, Rapunzel escapes from the tree Mother Gothel caused to grow around her and sets off to exact her revenge. Helped by the outlaw Jack (who's on the run from giants), Rapunzel has to rely on her wits, her stubborn grit, and her magical hair to free her real mother and the rest of the kingdom.

This is a rollicking adventure story told in a fun and engaging graphic novel format. Rapunzel will appeal to readers with her feisty, flawed, and determined personality, and the trials and mishaps she and Jack have to fight through will keep you reading through to the last frame.
Reviewed by Rebecca

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Berry, Julie. (2009). The Amaranth Enchantment. New York: Bloomsbury. 320 pages.
Retelling of Cinderella
Fifteen year old Lucinda has lived with her uncle and his spiteful second wife ever since her parents died ten years before, but in the course of twenty-four hours her life turns upside down. She meets the prince, a thief breaks into her room and steals a valuable jewel she'd been charged with returning, her uncle dies causing her step-aunt throws her into the street, and she meets Beryl, the Witch who is living in Lucinda's childhood home. Now with only the help of a goat named Dog and the sly thief, Peter, Lucinda has to steal jewel back from the prince and evade the man who killed her parents in order to reclaim her heritage and save Beryl's life.

The Amaranth Enchantment has just enough elements to be a Cinderella retelling without really following the traditional tale, which means you never know what's going to happen next. Readers will follow each twist and turn, pulled into the story through the humor and well-drawn characters. Lucinda's struggle to figure out who she really is and who she can really trust will with readers and Dog will most likely claim his rightful spot as their favorite character.
Reviewed by Rebecca

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Flinn, Alex. (2009). Beastly. New York: Perfection Learning. 204 pages.
Retelling of Beauty and the Beast
This book is a fantasy, love and magical book. The book Beastly told the story of a popular, handsome, privileged, and proud teenager by the name of Kyle Kingsbury. Kyle uses his looks and his father's money and influence as a tool to get away with anything, especially in school. Using his negative selfish personality, he went too far in humiliating one of his classmates by the name of Kendra at the school dance. Not knowing Kendra was also a witch. Kendra retaliated by casting a spell on Kyle, turning him into a very ugly beast. The only way for Kyle to break the spell is by falling in love with a girl who can look past his ugliness and love him for what he looks like, which is a beast.

The lesson in this book is to teach teens to be nice toward each other and not judge people based on what they look like but who they are on the inside. Beastly told the story of a modern day Beauty and the Beast; this book will attract young adult readers. Alex Flinn added some twists to the story to make it much more refreshing to today's generation than the original Beauty and the Beast. The story told a fairytale story of what every young girl dreams of which is to fall in love with a handsome prince.
Reviewed by Margaret

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Flinn, Alex. (2009). A Kiss in Time. New York: HarperCollins. 371 pages.
Retelling of Sleeping Beauty
Jack's parents sent him off on a museum tour of Europe, and he's become incredibly bored. One day, when he and Travis ditch the tour and try to find the beach, they stumble on an old-fashioned land where castles exist and everyone's asleep. They meander their way through the castle and find a beautiful sixteen-year-old girl who's fast asleep. Just like in the fairytales, she awakens, but no one's terribly pleased that this twenty-first century commoner was the one whose kiss awakened their beloved . Once Princess Talia realizes she and everyone else in Euphrasia have spent the last three hundred years asleep because the evil Malvolia tricked her, she flees to Miami with Jack and enters his world.

This very modern retelling of Sleeping Beauty, written by Alex Flinn, who's best known for Beastly, does a fantastic job making the fantastical 17th century world and the 21st century collide. Her incorporation of magic, mixed with her inclusion of current game shows, teenage angst, and love make for a quick humorous read!
Reviewed by Christie

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Pearce, Jackson. (2009). As You Wish. New York: HarperTeen. 304 pages.
Retelling of Aladdin
Pearce told the story of a lonely sixteen year old, Viola, whose boyfriend just broke up with her. She is feeling lonely and wanted to be loved again. Viola made a wish without knowing, in which she summoned a Jinn. Viola fell in love with Jinn, not knowing Jinn will eventually leave her and go back. She was left with making a difficult choice - to make another wish or not.

This story is unique yet refreshing because Pearce was able to tap into the sensitive issues that teenagers deal with everyday. Viola grew throughout the book and became a better person and a confident young lady.
Reviewed by Margaret

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Carpenter, Stephen. (2010). The Grimm Curse: Once Upon a Time is Now. New York: Amazon Digital Services. 90 pages. (this book is currently only available as a Kindle eBook).
Crossover Retelling
Jake Grimm is a fifteen year old teenager who grew up in a foster home not knowing his family identity and background. He was very unhappy living with his foster parents. On a mission to find out about his family and ancestors, Jake ran away from his foster parents to the place where he was born, a town called Woodland. When Jake got to the small town, he discovered that he is a Grimm, and he is also the last living descendant among all his brothers. The fairytales started when Jake realized that he is the only one that can save the people in the small town from witches, big bad wolves and other bad creatures who were on a mission to destroy the small town.

This book is written through the voice and experiences of Jake. It is a fast paced fairytale story (Grimm tales). The Grimm Curse: Once Upon a Time is Now is followed by other books in the Grimm Curse series.
Reviewed by Margaret

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Dixon, Heather. (2011). Entwined. New York: Greenwillow Books. 472 pages.
Retelling of the Twelve Dancing Princesses
After the death of the queen, the King of Eathesbury orders a year-long period of mourning and forbids dancing. His eldest daughter, Princess Azalea is left to look after her eleven sisters and keep them happy under her father's strict rule. Azalea discovers a magical entryway to another castle, where she and her sisters are invited by the Keeper to dance every night. Their slippers are in tatters every morning, leaving the king desperate to know where his daughters go every night. Before long, Azalea realizes that her arrangement with the Keeper is not as innocent as it first appeared, and she must fight to save her family.

This take on The Twelve Dancing Princesses combines elements of fantasy and mystery to create a refreshing story. Azalea is a strong character who must contend with the death of her mother, transitioning into adulthood, and keeping her family together.
Reviewed by Amy

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Pearce, Jackson. (2011). Sisters Red. New York: Hodder Children's Books. 304 pages.
Retelling of Little Red Riding Hood
Sisters Red is the fairytale retelling of Little Red Riding Hood. This fairytale is the story of two orphaned sisters by the name of Scarlett and Rosie March and their adventure. Scarlett is on a mission to hunt down the werewolves that brutally attacked her and took her eye which left her scarred forever. The Fenris also slaughtered their grandmother. On a mission to avenge, Scarlett and Rosie set out to hunt the Fenris that attacked Scarlett.

In this book Pearce was able to combine classic fairytales with werewolves who search for young girls to eat and how the fierce two sisters, also hunters, fought back. Pearce was also able to combine action, romance, excitement, and supernatural elements to captivate the reader's attention.
Reviewed by Margaret

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Blake, Lily. (2012). Snow White and the Huntsman. New York: Poppy. 240 pages.
Retelling of Snow White
When Ravenna marries King Magnus, she knows she wants to take over the kingdom and reign as the Wicked Queen. She spares Snow White's life and locks her in prison, all the while using her evil magic power and then draining the life out of young, beautiful girls in order to regain her attractive self. When Snow White finds a way to escape her prison cell, she escapes, only to be met by Eric, an experienced huntsman sent by Ravenna. If Ravenna kills Snow White, she'll have beauty forever, but will the promise of bringing back Eric's deceased wife be enough for him to go through with the plan?

Lily Blake actually adapted the Snow White and the Huntsman screenplay and wrote this novel to go hand in hand with the movie. In this version, Snow White is locked up, Ravenna has a brother who serves as a sort of informant and a hooded figure she consults (instead of the magic mirror itself). For those who want to get away from the love story and mining dwarfs from the Disney Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, this is the adaptation for you!
Reviewed by Christie

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Meyer, Marissa. (2012). Cinder. Book One: The Lunar Chronicles. New York: Feiwel and Friends. 448 pages.
Retelling of Cinderella
Cinder is the best mechanic in New Beijing; she also happens to be a cyborg. When Prince Kai seeks her out to fix his personal android, Cinder accidentally uncovers a plot by Queen Levana, ruler of the moon colony, to kill the prince and take over the throne and then the world. When her stepsister (and best friend) Peony catches Letumosis - the deadly plague that is sweeping across the country, Cinder is racing to find a cure, save the prince, and figure out the truth of who she is, something she's pretty sure she doesn't want to know.

This is an unexpected and delightful Cinderella retelling. Cinder is sarcastic, funny, passionate, and terrified that she will lose the people she loves. The world building is strong and makes you feel like you've stepped onto the streets of New Beijing yourself. This book resonates with its themes of family, loss, first love, and sacrifice.
Reviewed by Rebecca