Fairy Tales for Adults

Many fairy tale retellings are written for young adults. Why not, when most of the protagonists are girls who are becoming women? You have YA Cinderella retellings in which the Cinderella character grows up and leaves her evil stepmother behind, and YA Beauty and the Beast retellings in which the Belle character falls in love with a beast. But what about adult retellings? Below are a collection of adult novels that retell or are inspired by particular fairy tales. But be warned – some of these stories are not meant for children. 

CINDERELLA

Gregory Maguire is well-known for his novel featuring the Wicked Witch of the West as the protagonist, the story which became a Tony Award-winning Broadway musical. Turning the antagonist in L. Frank Baum’s Oz series into the good guy. He does it again here, writing the story of the stepsisters who Cinderella leaves behind in the original version. In Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister, Maguire spins the popular fairy tale into the story of whether beauty really triumphs over ugliness. Will getting the prince really lead to a life of happily-ever-after? 


SNOW WHITE

Unlike Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister, Maguire’s retelling of “Snow White and the Seven Dwarves” fits more closely with the tale which inspired it. In Mirror Mirror, Don Vicente de Nevada is sent by Cesare and Lucrezia Borgia, children of a wicked pope, on a quest that will take years to accomplish, leaving his daughter, Bianca, in their care. Lucrezia becomes jealous of Bianca’s blossoming beauty, and, well, you know how the story goes. 

Things are much different in Neil Gaiman’s graphic novel retelling, Snow, Glass, Apples. The queen attempts to save her kingdom from her evil stepdaughter, but the girl, or creature, is not easily foiled. Between the graphic images and violent actions of the characters, this book is not for young readers or the faint of heart.


THE TWELVE DANCING PRINCESSES 

Not as popular as “Cinderella” or “Snow White,” the story of “The Twelve Dancing Princesses” is depicted in Genevieve Valentine’s The Girls at the Kingfisher Club. Every night, Jo “The General” and her eleven sisters sneak out to dance at club after club to temporarily escape the pressures at home, with their controlling father planning on setting them up for marriage. One night, they are caught in a raid and separated. Will Jo, the mother figure to all the girls, continue to put her sisters’ or father’s needs before her own?

MORE FAIRY TALES

The Snow White, Blood Red Anthology or Adult Fairy Tales series, edited by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling, is a curated collection of fairy tale retellings from some of the best writers, including Neil Gaiman (he just loves rewriting fairy tales), Charles de Lint, Jane Yolen, Robin McKinley, Patricia C. Wrede, Tanith Lee, and more! There are six books in this series, all available in ebook-format on hoopla:

Each volume of dark fairy tale retellings reimagines the classic tales we all know in story and poem form. Some of these same writers are contributors to another fairy tale anthology, Happily Ever After, edited by John Klima, also available on hoopla. 

For even more fairy tales, and not just ones for adults, take a look at the Folklore collection on Overdrive or through the Libby app. You’ll find some of the ya books from the YA Cinderella Retellings and YA Beauty and the Beast Retellings posts, as well as currently unmentioned titles. Annaleigh and her eleven sisters sneak out to dance at balls, and four of the girls meet a tragic demise in House of Salt and Sorrows, Erin A. Craig’s “Twelve Dancing Princesses” retelling. For more by Neil Gaiman, The Sleeper and the Spindle combines elements of “Snow White” and “Sleeping Beauty.”

hoopla also has an extensive Fairy Tales, Folk Tales, Legends & Mythology collection of ebooks. Find out what would have happened if Aladdin never found the lamp in Liz Braswell’s A Whole New World, watch Cinderella slay zombies in Ella, the Slayer by A. W. Exley, or go back to the beginning with The Original Folk and Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm

No matter what your favorite fairy tale is, Abbot Public Library has plenty to choose from!

YA Beauty and the Beast Retellings

Through retellings, you can visit the same story or a similar story over and over again with new characters and new adventures. Fairy tale retellings are especially great because they were made for retellings. The stories can be shaped and changed with details added or removed, depending on how the author wants to tell the story. Beauty and the Beast is a favorite fairy tale, probably best known for the Disney animation many have seen as a child. YA has some great stories featuring this tale, and some YA Beauty and the Beast retellings accessible through Abbot Public Library are listed below. Enjoy!

*All descriptions are from the publisher. Titles that are part of a series are marked with an *.

Of Curses and Kisses by Sandhya Menon

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?

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.

Accessible on: Overdrive

Beauty by Robin McKinley

The sisters’ wealthy father loses all his money when his merchant fleet is drowned in a storm, and the family moves to a village far away. Then the old merchant hears what proves to be a false report that one of his ships had made it safe to harbor at last, and on his sad, disappointed way home again he becomes lost deep in the forest and has a terrifying encounter with a fierce Beast, who walks like a man and lives in a castle. The merchant’s life is forfeit, says the Beast, for trespass and the theft of a rose—but he will spare the old man’s life if he sends one of his daughters: “Your daughter would take no harm from me, nor from anything that lives in my lands.” When Beauty hears this story—for her father had picked the rose to bring to her—her sense of honor demands that she take up the Beast’s offer, for “cannot a Beast be tamed?”

Accessible on: Overdrive & hoopla

A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas*

When nineteen-year-old huntress Feyre kills a wolf in the woods, a beast-like creature arrives to demand retribution for it. Dragged to a treacherous magical land she only knows about from legends, Feyre discovers that her captor is not an animal, but Tamlin—one of the lethal, immortal faeries who once ruled their world.

As she dwells on his estate, her feelings for Tamlin transform from icy hostility into a fiery passion that burns through every lie and warning she’s been told about the beautiful, dangerous world of the Fae. But an ancient, wicked shadow over the faerie lands is growing, and Feyre must find a way to stop it…. or doom Tamlin—and his world—forever.

Accessible on: Overdrive 

Hunted by Meagan Spooner

Beauty knows the Beast’s forest in her bones—and in her blood. After all, her father is the only hunter who’s ever come close to discovering its secrets. So when her father loses his fortune and moves Yeva and her sisters out of their comfortable home among the aristocracy and back to the outskirts of town, Yeva is secretly relieved. Out in the wilderness, there’s no pressure to make idle chatter with vapid baronessas… or to submit to marrying a wealthy gentleman. But Yeva’s father’s misfortune may have cost him his mind, and when he goes missing in the woods, Yeva sets her sights on one prey: the creature he’d been obsessively tracking just before his disappearance. The Beast.

Deaf to her sisters’ protests, Yeva hunts this strange creature back into his own territory—a cursed valley, a ruined castle, and a world of magical creatures that Yeva’s only heard about in fairy tales. A world that can bring her ruin, or salvation. Who will survive: the Beauty, or the Beast?

Accessible on: Overdrive & hoopla

A Curse so Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer*

Fall in love, break the curse.

It once seemed so easy to Prince Rhen, the heir to Emberfall. Cursed by a powerful enchantress to repeat the autumn of his eighteenth year over and over, he knew he could be saved if a girl fell for him. But that was before he learned that at the end of each autumn, he would turn into a vicious beast hell-bent on destruction. That was before he destroyed his castle, his family, and every last shred of hope.

Nothing has ever been easy for Harper. With her father long gone, her mother dying, and her brother barely holding their family together while constantly underestimating her because of her cerebral palsy, she learned to be tough enough to survive. But when she tries to save someone else on the streets of Washington, D.C., she’s instead somehow sucked into Rhen’s cursed world.

Accessible on: Overdrive

Beastly by Alex Flinn*

I am a beast.

A beast. Not quite wolf or bear, gorilla or dog, but a horrible new creature who walks upright—a creature with fangs and claws and hair springing from every pore. I am a monster.

You think I’m talking fairy tales? No way. The place is New York City. The time is now. It’s no deformity, no disease. And I’ll stay this way forever—ruined—unless I can break the spell.

Yes, the spell, the one the witch in my English class cast on me. Why did she turn me into a beast who hides by day and prowls by night? I’ll tell you. I’ll tell you how I used to be Kyle Kingsbury, the guy you wished you were, with money, perfect looks, and the perfect life. And then, I’ll tell you how I became perfectly …. beastly.


Accessible on: Overdrive & hoopla