5 Bewitching Gothic Fairy Tale Retellings to Ensnare You

Explore an enchanting world of classic fairy tales reimagined where wishing upon a star is the least of these characters worries.

Fantasy Recommendations Young Adult

As children, we are amazed by the lands of witches, royals, talking animals, and magic pumpkins. However, as we grow older and life gets in the way we start to wonder how our favorite fairy tale characters would act in much darker situations. Gothic fairy tale retellings of classic children’s books have existed since the 1800s when the Grimm brothers wrote a collection involving many of the characters we know and love today. However, these stories are much grimmer than the ones we know from Disney. Take a look at these five authors who have traveled the path of retelling our favorite classic tales.

1. Cinder by Marissa Meyer

Marissa Meyer’s Cinder embarks us on a journey with a run-of-the-mill Cinderella, who just so happens to be a cyborg. A plague runs rampant throughout the kingdom and it’s up to Cinder to uncover her past so she can save her sister from the illness. This story involves many of the elements of Cinderella, including an evil stepmother, a ball, and a handsome prince. Meyer’s Cinder is the first book in her spellbinding Lunar Chronicles series exploring more classic fairy tale characters such as Red Riding Hood, Rapunzel, and Snow White.

Cinder by Marissa Meyer book cover. A pink background with a cyborg woman.

2. A Whole New World by Elizabeth J. Braswell

Elizabeth J. Braswell’s A Whole New World brings us to the magical land of Agrabah, where Aladdin is not the one to find Genie’s lamp. Jafar uses the lamp to become the most powerful sorcerer in the world, and it’s up to Aladdin and Jasmine to steal the lamp before the last wish is spoken, but will it be too late? Braswell’s charming A Twisted Tale Series follows many other classic retellings like Sleeping Beauty, Beauty and the Beast, and Mulan. This series recreates and flips the script of many popular classic tales to keep readers on the edge of their seats.

A Whole New World by Elizabeth J. Braswell book cover. A purple background with an evil shadow looming over a genie lamp.

3. Spelled by Betsy Schow

Betsy Schow’s Spelled allows us to enter a world with magic slippers and beautiful gowns where everything is picture-book perfect. But when Dorthea wishes upon a cursed star and her parents go missing, it’s up to her to bring them back and save the kingdom. Schow’s dazzling The Storymakers series brings us to magical worlds where happily ever afters are not so common after all.

Spelled by Betsy Schow book cover. A black background with green and blue mist surrounding a pair of red and silver heels.

4. Curse of the Wolf King by Tessonja Odette

Tessonja Odette’s Curse of the Wolf King follows the story of Gemma Bellefleur in this classic retelling of Beauty and the Beast. Gemma is captured by a wicked Fae king, in which she is forced to help trick someone into falling in love with him to break his curse. Will Gemma learn there is more than meets the eye in this ghastly tale? Tessonja Odette’s alluring Entangled with Fae series follows multiple tales of some of Disney’s classics, such as Beauty and the Beast, The Little Mermaid, and Sleeping Beauty.

Curse of the Wolf King by Tessonja Odette book cover. A green background with a wolf and roses surrounding the title.

5. A Court of Sugar and Spice: A Nutcracker Retelling by Rebecca F. Kenney

Rebecca F. Kenney’s A Court of Sugar and Spice: A Nutcracker Retelling takes a twist on the classic story of The Nutcracker, where the wooden figurine is actually a Fae prince! Two sisters, Clara and Louisa, embark on a journey to the Fae realm to help the prince stop the Rat King from taking over the Seelie Kingdom. This book follows the tropes of our classic tales but twists them into a grisly retelling. Kenney’s enchanting Wicked Darlings series follows the story of these two sisters entangling themselves with the Fae Court and the dashing princes that follow.

A Court of Sugar and Spice: A Nutcracker Retelling by Rebecca F. Kenney book cover. Black and flowery background with candies.

By exploring the realm of gothic retellings of famous children’s books, these five authors dive into the world of the twisted and the grim to create beguiling tales of the darker side of the many stories we’ve heard at bedtime. It may seem the tales we knew as children have changed, but they have always been the same. These five authors offer readers a chance to look beneath the surface of these intense tales that reimagine familiar characters and find glimmers of friendship, love, and hope.

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