The other day while wandering through Twitter, I discovered the Retellings Reading Challenge, hosted by Cornerfolds. (Hat tip to A Dance With Books where I initially discovered the challenge.) I found this to be a wonderful book challenge, in part because I had already noticed a few books on my own TBR that were retellings in various ways. While I think this will be more of a passive challenge for me (where I won’t necessarily choose my reads based on the bingo card, but will happily tick things off to see how far I get), it got me excited to share some of my own favorite retellings for those who are looking to become the Fairest of Them All.
IN THE VANISHERS’ PALACE by Aliette de Bodard
Retells: Beauty and the Beast
I was lucky to review this book for my blog last year. It’s a f/f romance of a young woman who agrees to take her mother’s place as a tribute to the local dragon, in exchange for the dragon granting her village a boon. The heroine finds herself in a surreal palace with the dragon and her children (all of whom can take human form) and wrapped up in the intrigue of the palace itself. I loved this story for the way it took the familiar beats of the fairy tale and wrapped them in a completely original narrative.
THE LUNAR CHRONICLES by Marissa Meyer
Retells: Cinderella, Red Riding Hood, Rapunzel, Snow White
This is one of my favorite series ever (you can tell because I actually finished the series!) and I definitely recommend to anyone who likes take-charge ladies getting things done. This sci-fi spin on fairy tales is one that starts with a small cast and layers in new elements and POVs with every book. Book one, for instance, completely belongs to Cinder, while book two introduces the character of Scarlet, so on and so forth. There’s adventure and romance and some truly clever plays on fairy tale mythology.
FOREST OF A THOUSAND LANTERNS by Julie C. Dao
Retells: Snow White
I loved this book for the tragic fall of lead protagonist Xifeng, the Evil Queen analogue in this Chinese-inspired retelling of Snow White. Xifeng is ambitious but really just trying to survive in the palace of the emperor. Unfortunately, Xifeng slowly learns that she really has no boundaries when it comes to accumulating power and eventually becomes the villain we all want to hate. I still need to read book two, KINGDOM OF THE BLAZING PHOENIX, which picks up the story from the Snow White equivalent, a princess in hiding preparing to overthrow Xifeng.
A SPARK OF WHITE FIRE by Sangu Mandanna
This was a late 2018 discovery for me, but I’m glad that it made its way into my hands! I’m very unfamiliar with the Mahabharata, but I’m always on the look out for new mythologies to explore. A SPARK OF WHITE FIRE is a sci-fi tale where gods are very much still messing with humans as much as they can get away with. One war goddess is helping Esmae, a princess working to undermine her usurping uncle so she can help her twin brother reclaim his rightful throne. Not knowing the mythology first-hand, I can’t speak to how it plays with the Mahabharata, but I will say that the ending broke my heart a little (okay, a lot), and I’m looking forward to the sequel.
THE WRATH AND THE DAWN by Renée Ahdieh
Retells: Shahrzed/1001 Arabian Nights
The first book in a duology, this is the story of Shahrzed, a teenage girl who volunteers to be the Caliph’s bride when her best friend Shiva is selected for the dubious honor. I say dubious because the Caliph selects a new bride every night, and executes them before the dawn, a tragedy that has already befallen Shiva. Shahrzed manages to stave off her fate by weaving tales that end on cliffhangers, enticing the Caliph to spare her life and giving Shahrzed time to plot his death. As the days stretch on, Shahrzed begins to uncover the curse that drives the Caliph to commit such unspeakable acts – and also finds herself falling in love.
GEEKERELLA by Ashley Poston
There’s a lot of things being riffed on in Geekerella, from fandom to rom-com tropes, but it’s all wrapped in the shell of the Cinderella story. Elle is a die-hard fan of the fictional show STARFIELD, and for various reasons desperately wants to win the cosplay contest hosted at the annual masquerade ball at the convention. You’ll find no magic here, but a wizard of a clothing design friend stepping in as fairy godmother and a food truck named The Magic Pumpkin that has a key role to play in getting Elle to the con. This is feel-good fluff at its best, and I’m looking forward to the upcoming sequel THE PRINCESS AND THE FANGIRL, which will play with the Prince and the Pauper story.
I know there are so many more out there, and I can’t wait to discover them! Do you have any favorite retellings?