Rad Reads

Our fave YA retellings of classic fairy tales

If you're anything like us, you were a big Disney princess (or Descendants!) kid. And maybe you still love princesses and witches and goblins and spells, even if you've graduated from the princess-dress-sporting era of your life.

Luckily, there is a huge number of clever fairy-tale retellings for young adult audiences (and a bunch are the first of a longer series). Whether you like traditional adaptations or updated versions with a quirky twist, read on for our most magical recs for your fairytale TBR!

A Curse So Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer


When Harper stops to save a stranger on the streets of Washington, D.C., she's suddenly pulled into a magical world—and her life turns upside down.

Prince Rhen, cursed by a powerful enchantress, knows he could be saved if a girl fell in love with him, but until then he's been turned into a vicious beast. Harper has no idea what to believe... but she and Rhen have to work together if they want to break the curse and save the kingdom from the dark threats it faces.

A Curse So Dark and Lonely is a fresh and creative retelling of the classic Beauty and the Beast story *and* features disability representation with Harper's cerebral palsy. We love to see it!

Princess of the Midnight Ball by Jessica Day George

Princess of the Midnight Ball, Bloomsbury, $8

This Twelve Dancing Princesses retelling brings in an evil fae king and swoony romance between the eldest princess and a young soldier.

Every night, the twelve princesses are forced to dance for the King Under Stone. Gale, a solider just returned from war, and Rose, the oldest princess, team up to find an invisibility cloak, an enchanted chain and, last but not least, true love so they can break the curse and free the princesses.

Book of a Thousand Days by Shannon Hale


This standalone novel from fairytale fave Shannon Hale retells the lesser-known Brothers Grimm story of Maid Maleen, moving the setting from Europe to the central Asian steppes.

When Lady Saren refuses to marry a man she hates, she and her maid Dashti are sentenced to be imprisoned in a tower for seven years. The book takes on a diary format from Dashti's perspective, and we get deep insight into her lovely, resilient character as food runs low and she has to fight to survive while taking care of Saren.

Plus, Book of a Thousand Days has one of our *fave* male romantic leads/book boyfriends of all time. If you decide to read, get ready to fall for Khan Tegus!

Enchanted by Alethea Kontis


Can't decide on one fairy tale for your next retelling? Enchanted combines just about every well-known fairytale you can think of into one spellbinding story!

Sunday is the overlooked youngest of seven sisters, each named for a day of the week. When Sunday meets an enchanted frog, the two bond over their circumstances and become friends. When Sunday kisses him goodbye, the spell is broken and he's turned back into Prince Rumbold—a man Sunday's family despises. Can Sunday and Rumbold reunite and discover the secrets of each other's pasts?

Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine


This Cinderella retelling is a classic (and maaajor a childhood fave) for a reason! If you grew up with Ella Enchanted, give this middle-grade favorite a nostalgic re-read and return to the world of Ella, Prince Char, and, ofc, the curse of eternal obedience.

The Ella Enchanted movie is (controversially) different from the book, but it's a timless fantasy flick and features a young Anne Hathaway as Ella! You can watch *and* read to immerse yourself in the atmospheric fairytale world.

Got any retelling recommendations? Let us know on IG @girlslifemag!

Keep reading for more book recs:
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✨ How to romanticize reading again
✨ We found your next read, based on your favorite Taylor Swift song

Slider image: @bookslovereaders
Top image: @thebeautyandthebooks


by Ava Slocum | 3/28/2024