Five Favourite Fairytale Retellings

Fairytale retellings, Heart's Blood, Juliet Marillier, Tithe, Holly Black, Fire and Hemlock, Diana Wynne Jones, Earl Grey Editing, books and tea, tea and books

Conflux, Canberra’s speculative fiction convention, kicks off today. Panels start at 10 AM, so I was up bright and early to get registered and dive into the fun. The theme this year is Grimm Tales, so I thought I’d share with you five of my favourite fairytale retellings.

Thorn by Intisar Khanani

I’ve reviewed this book previously, so I won’t say too much. It’s a retelling of The Goose Girl, a fairytale I’m not especially familiar with. What I really enjoyed about this story is the way Alyrra makes a home for herself and cares deeply for the people around her, even though it’s a place where it’s often dangerous to be a woman.

Tithe by Holly Black.

This is a fairytale retelling of Tam Lin. It was my first introduction to urban fantasy for young adults and I found it electrifying. It mixes the predatory menace of the fae with a gritty, modern sensibility.

I’m going to cheat and also mention Black’s retelling of Beauty and the Beast, Valiant. The stories are set in the same universe and Valiant has a cameo or two from Tithe. However, it mostly stands alone.

Fire and Hemlock by Diana Wynne Jones

Much as I love Tithe, my all-time favourite riff on Tam Lin is Diana Wynne Jones’s Fire and Hemlock. I’d classify it as mythic fiction and it does a wonderful job of straddling the line between reality and fantasy. A significant age difference helps make the relationship between Polly and Tom feel taboo, and though that’s not for every reader, I felt DWJ did a good job of invoking it while avoiding ickiness.

Heart’s Blood by Juliet Marillier

I’m quite partial to retellings of Beauty and the Beast. In Heart’s Blood it has been taken and put in a historical context: medieval Ireland. However, the magic hasn’t been stripped away. It’s present, though subtle at first. However, as with any romance, it’s the relationship between Caitrin and Anluan that really makes the story. Have I mentioned I’m a sucker for slow-burn romance?

Ember, Bettie Sharpe, Cinderella retelling, fairytale retelling, erotic fairytale, fantasy, #ReadMyOwnDamnBooks, Once Upon A Time X, Earl Grey EditingEmber by Betty Sharpe

This is another one I’ve reviewed previously. If you like your fairytale retellings twisted and with a bit of the erotic, this novella is definitely for you. As the name implies, it is a retelling of Cinderella, but grounded in a more feminist sensibility. The women in this version aren’t cruel rivals but become chosen family.

Of course, there are a ton of stories I love that are not so much fairytale retellings as fairytale borrowings. Some of these include:


  • Vigil by Angela Slatter
  • Valentine by Jodi McAlister
  • Uprooted by Naomi Novik
  • Glass Slipper Scandal by Tansy Rayner Roberts

There are probably a million others I haven’t thought of. What are your favourite fairytale retellings? I’m always on the hunt for more recommendations!

2 thoughts on “Five Favourite Fairytale Retellings”

  1. Oh man, I just reread Fire and Hemlock and it absolutely holds up. That scene where Polly’s alone in Bristol and the quartet rescues her and she sits in on their practice — still so excellent.

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