Fairy Tale Retellings to Put at the Top of Your TBR Stack
by Ashley Dickson-Ellison (@teachingtheapocalypse)
As I started putting together books to share for this category, one of my personal favorites on the Unabridged Reading Challenge for this year, I realized that there are SO many that I want to read! So today, rather than sharing ones I've already read, I'm sharing my TBR stack for fairy tale retellings, including a couple of gems that are coming out later this year.
Julie C. Dao's Forest of a Thousand Lanterns
From the Publisher: "Eighteen-year-old Xifeng is beautiful. The stars say she is destined for greatness, that she is meant to be Empress of Feng Lu. But only if she embraces the darkness within her.
"Growing up as a peasant in a forgotten village on the edge of the map, Xifeng longs to fulfill the destiny promised to her by her cruel aunt, the witch Guma, who has read the cards and seen glimmers of Xifeng's majestic future. But is the price of the throne too high? Because in order to achieve greatness, she must spurn the young man who loves her and exploit the callous magic that runs through her veins--sorcery fueled by eating the hearts of the recently killed. For the god who has sent her on this journey will not be satisfied until his power is absolute.
"Set in an East Asian-inspired fantasy world filled with both breathtaking pain and beauty, Forest of a Thousand Lanterns possesses all the hallmarks of masterful fantasy: dazzling magic, heartbreaking romance, and a world that hangs in the balance. Fans of Heartless, Stealing Snow, and Red Queen will devour this stunning debut."
Why I Want to Read It: Yes to all of this! This premise sounds so fascinating, and I've seen so many amazing reviews of this one.
Melissa Albert's The Hazel Wood
From the publisher: "Seventeen-year-old Alice and her mother have spent most of Alice’s life on the road, always a step ahead of the uncanny bad luck biting at their heels. But when Alice’s grandmother, the reclusive author of a cult-classic book of pitch-dark fairy tales, dies alone on her estate, the Hazel Wood, Alice learns how bad her luck can really get: Her mother is stolen away―by a figure who claims to come from the Hinterland, the cruel supernatural world where her grandmother's stories are set. Alice's only lead is the message her mother left behind: 'Stay away from the Hazel Wood.'
"Alice has long steered clear of her grandmother’s cultish fans. But now she has no choice but to ally with classmate Ellery Finch, a Hinterland superfan who may have his own reasons for wanting to help her. To retrieve her mother, Alice must venture first to the Hazel Wood, then into the world where her grandmother's tales began―and where she might find out how her own story went so wrong."
Why I Want to Read It: This one, with its premise that the seemingly fictional world is actually real, plays on a trope that I love. And I love stories that connect multiple generations within a family... and I've heard nothing but great things about this one!
Sandhya Menon's Of Curses and Kisses
From the publisher: "Will the princess save the beast?
"For Princess Jaya Rao, nothing is more important than family. When the loathsome Emerson clan steps up their centuries-old feud to target Jaya’s little sister, nothing will keep Jaya from exacting her revenge. Then Jaya finds out she’ll be attending the same elite boarding school as Grey Emerson, and it feels like the opportunity of a lifetime. She knows what she must do: Make Grey fall in love with her and break his heart. But much to Jaya’s annoyance, Grey’s brooding demeanor and lupine blue eyes have drawn her in. There’s simply no way she and her sworn enemy could find their fairy-tale ending...right?
"His Lordship Grey Emerson is a misanthrope. Thanks to an ancient curse by a Rao matriarch, Grey knows he’s doomed once he turns eighteen. Sequestered away in the mountains at St. Rosetta’s International Academy, he’s lived an isolated existence—until Jaya Rao bursts into his life, but he can’t shake the feeling that she’s hiding something. Something that might just have to do with the rose-shaped ruby pendant around her neck…
"As the stars conspire to keep them apart, Jaya and Grey grapple with questions of love, loyalty, and whether it’s possible to write your own happy ending."
Why I Want to Read It: I'm a huge fan of Menon's work, and this retelling sounds so good! I also love star-crossed lovers and quests to make one's own destiny, so count me in on this one!
Naomi Novik's Uprooted
From the publisher: "Agnieszka loves her valley home, her quiet village, the forests and the bright shining river. But the corrupted Wood stands on the border, full of malevolent power, and its shadow lies over her life.
"Her people rely on the cold, driven wizard known only as the Dragon to keep its powers at bay. But he demands a terrible price for his help: one young woman handed over to serve him for ten years, a fate almost as terrible as falling to the Wood.
"The next choosing is fast approaching, and Agnieszka is afraid. She knows—everyone knows—that the Dragon will take Kasia: beautiful, graceful, brave Kasia, all the things Agnieszka isn’t, and her dearest friend in the world. And there is no way to save her.
"But Agnieszka fears the wrong things. For when the Dragon comes, it is not Kasia he will choose."
Why I Want to Read It: While I certainly do not wish bad things upon anyone, I'm a sucker for a story where there is someone who gets chosen to spare the fate of the larger community. This one sounds amazing, and I've heard good things about it!
Laura Pohl's The Grimrose Girls (coming out November 2, 2021)
From the publisher: "The Descendants meets Pretty Little Liars in this story of four reimagined fairytale heroines who must uncover connections to their ancient curses and forge their own paths... before it's too late.
"After the mysterious death of their best friend, Ella, Yuki, and Rory are the talk of their elite school, Grimrose Académie. The police ruled Ariane's death as a suicide, but the trio are determined to find out what really happened.
"When Nani Eszes arrives as their newest roommate, it sets into motion a series of events that no one could have predicted. As the girls retrace their friend's final days, they discover a dark secret about Grimrose—Ariane wasn't the first dead girl.
"They soon learn that all the past murders are connected to ancient fairytale curses...and that their own fates are tied to the stories, dooming the girls to brutal and gruesome endings unless they can break the cycle for good."
Why I Want to Read It: Set at a boarding school and with a mystery at its center and fairy tales woven into the story, this one seems like a perfect fit for me!
Elizabeth Lim's Six Crimson Cranes (coming out July 6, 2021)
From the publisher: "Shiori'anma, the only princess of Kiata, has a secret. Forbidden magic runs through her veins. Normally she conceals it well, but on the morning of her betrothal ceremony, Shiori loses control. At first, her mistake seems like a stroke of luck, forestalling the wedding she never wanted. But it also catches the attention of Raikama, her stepmother.
"A sorceress in her own right, Raikama banishes the young princess, turning her brothers into cranes. She warns Shiori that she must speak of it to no one: for with every word that escapes her lips, one of her brothers will die.
"Penniless, voiceless, and alone, Shiori searches for her brothers, and uncovers a dark conspiracy to seize the throne. Only Shiori can set the kingdom to rights, but to do so she must place her trust in a paper bird, a mercurial dragon, and the very boy she fought so hard not to marry. And she must embrace the magic she's been taught all her life to forswear--no matter what the cost."
Why I Want to Read It: I'm captivated by the premise of this story, and I absolutely love the cover! (In fact, just this week, I was able to get an e-copy from partner NetGalley, and I cannot wait to dive into this one!)
What fairy tale retellings have you read and loved? Which ones are you excited to read soon? Let us know in the comments below or on social media!
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