Fairytales never go out of style, no matter what the season is. After all, they’re filled with magic, wonder and romance! But don’t forget that very often fairytales have their own grim (pun totally intended) roots.
Instead of picking up your typical bloody slasher or creepy mystery, check out five eerie retellings of classic fairytales and fables to shake up your bookshelf!
1. Little Thieves by Margaret Owen
“The Goose Girl” isn’t a particularly popular fable, but it’s worth an honorary mention. There is nothing more chilling than the idea of your body being turned to priceless gems!
In Little Thieves by Margaret Owen, professional pretender and grifter, Vanja Schmidt crosses the wrong god and is cursed to turn into the very gems she desires. As Vanja comes to realize her greed is killing her, she grapples with what it means to want, and if those wants are worth dying for. The scenes where rubies and pearls begin to grow along Vanja’s body are seriously disturbing and will definitely make your skin crawl!
2. Lakesedge by Lyndall Clipstone
The classic tale of Hades and Persephone, while not exactly a fairytale by any means, has a certain allure and charm to most of us. Plenty of people argue all the time about whether or not Persephone was forced to stay with Hades, or if she chose that fate herself.
Lyndall Clipstone’s Lakesedge is as close to a dreamy, gothic retelling of Hades and Persephone as you’ll get this Halloween. Follow through this decadent read as Violeta ‘Leta’ Graceling arrives at the terrifying Lakesedge estate and grapples with the monsters in her past to be with the boy she loves. Just make sure to keep the lights on for this one!
3. Poisoned by Jennifer Donnelly
If you were always drawn to the story of Snow White (the original, terrifying version), you’re going to love Jennifer Donnelly’s take on the disturbing tale. It keeps all the macabre and twisted tones of the OG Grimm story and introduces us to Sophie, a princess trying her best to be the stoic, hardened leader her realm deserves. But when her heart is taken in the woods by the huntsman, Sophie has to fight tooth and nail to take it back from the dark forces that stole it. If you enjoy Poisoned, make sure to check out its predecessor, Stepsister, a novel that retells the age-old Cinderella fairytale from the perspective of her ‘ugly’ stepsister!
4. Gilded by Marissa Meyer
The Grimm brothers’ story of Rumpelstiltskin is a cautionary tale that warns us against giving more than we can handle away. Marissa Meyer’s Gilded is a little different in that our heroine, Serilda, isn’t the cornered young girl the original features. Instead, Serilda is charming, clever and quick on her feet. While she can’t turn straw to gold, she can spin astonishing lies at the drop of a hat. It’s this running of her mouth that gets her into big, big trouble!
Similarly, Gilded’s version of Rumpelstilskin, Gild, is nowhere as conniving and greedy as the original. Instead, you’ll find yourself rooting for these two as they try to dig themselves out of the mess they make together.
5. Into the Bloodred Woods by Martha Brockenbrough
If you’re having a hard time picking up a book based on just one fairytale, then don’t worry, because Martha Brockenbrough’s Into the Bloodred Woods is perfect for you.
A collaboration of many beloved stories, it features a werebear princess and her cruel twin brother as they both compete for the crown they believe they deserve. If you decide to give this book a read, you’ll notice hints of Little Red Riding Hood, Hansel and Gretel and Goldilocks woven seamlessly through.
These five retellings are the perfect read if you’re looking for something romantic, unsettling and fantastical. Brave ominous woods, dark deals and evil forces in these five fairytales retold! Read up on even more fairytale retellings here.