It's Not Just Disney Movies
I grew up on Disney movies. These are not the same as fairy tales, but my parents didn't know them since they grew up in a different country. My first exposure to fairy tales was via Disney. This wasn't it. I always maintained an interest in these stories, from reading Sisters Grimm to now.
My favourite fairy tale retelling centres around phenomenal writing. I already know the basic story, so how is the author capable of retaining my interest? The books here are not strict retellings. They use elements of the story and explore different parts of the world.
Peter Pan Retelling: Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson
Tiger Lily retells Peter Pan through a very different perspective; that of Tinker Bell. This is not Disney's Tink. Tiger Lily is fiercely protective and has her own life with her tribe. I thought this feeling of her people being indigenous to Never Land was quite fascinating, and this is an extremely fresh perspective on Peter Pan.
Fairytale Retellings series by Jackson Pearce
Jackson Pearce is one of my absolute favourite fairy tale retelling writers. I can't compare her books to a single fairy tale because she has created a series with an intense mythology drawing from several classic stories like Little Red Riding Hood, The Little Mermaid, and The Snow Queen. My favourite part of Jackson Pearce's story is her amazing character development. Although her books are part of a series, they don't need to be read one after another. Every story is self-contained and deals with different themes. It starts with Sisters Red, a story about two sisters alone in the world, fighting evil. Then, more siblings with a Hansel and Gretel retelling, Sweetly. My personal favourite is Fathomless, because the story gets incredibly dark. The yearning of The Little Mermaid resonates through that entire story. Finally, there is Cold Spell, possibly the most romance oriented of the bunch.
As an aside, I posted the older covers of Sisters Red and Sweetly because I love them so much more than the redesign.
She has written two fairy tale retellings and they are both amazing: Of Beast and Beauty, which I'm sure you can guess what fairy tale it concerns, and Princess of Thorns.
Princess of Thorns has a very fantasy-ish vibe, as it is a retelling of Sleepy Beauty, except that it has fairy powers, an extremely stubborn and cursed princess, and believe it or not, a cursed prince too. The slow burn relationship between the two as well as the daring of Aurora is an extremely inventive take on one of my personal favourites.
Of Beast and Beauty is romantic. It's a story that speaks to the duality of beast and beauty, and this sci-fi version of my favourite Disney movie is so very charming. It's about learning to see past the differences, and it's definitely worth a read.
Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge
I know that Hodge has written a second story, Crimson Bound, but seeing as how that's still stuck on my TBR, I can only gush about Cruel Beauty. It's another Beauty and the Beast retelling, and it is amazing. Nyx has some serious attitude, and she is one of my favourite YA characters. She would steal the show, except that almost every aspect of Cruel Beauty is flawless, and there is so much gorgeous writing, storytelling, character development that it's hard to pick what I like best.
Okay, so this is somewhat of a loose interpretation of fairy tale, but there was a Barbie movie about the Nutcracker that I watched passionately as a child, so I feel like Claire Legrand's book works.
Winterspell's true charm is in the character development of Clara, its main character. Clara begins the story lacking agency. Her desires don't matter and she has to think of her family first. Throughout the novel, Clara learns more about accepting who she is, and really owning herself and her body. She also deals with lots of evil and darkness along the way. What more could you want?
Books I Haven't Read But Will Still Recommend
I don't entirely feel fair recommending books I haven't read, but I'm looking at the reviews and I know that Marissa Meyer's Lunar Chronicles should somehow find a way onto this list. Also, Crimson Bound, Because Rosamund Hodge. Duh.