7 Fairy Tale Retellings That Will Make You Question Your Childhood 

“And they lived happily ever after…” or did they?


Fairy tales have a special place in the hearts of all children who grew up daydreaming about princes and princesses in far away kingdoms and spells that can only be broken by true love's kiss. But what if the original tales got it all wrong? 

Here to shatter what you knew to be true are fairy tale retellings—stories that reimagine your favorite books and put an adult spin on them. From evil queens who were just searching for love to lost boys who turned to pirating, these books prove that the original fairy tales only tell one side of the story. 


Buy Lost Boy at Amazon

Lost Boy

By Christina Henry

We all know the story of Peter Pan—the boy with the magical gift of flight who never wants to grow up, and frequently faces his nemesis Captain Hook. But was Captain Hook always evil? Christina Henry’s retelling of Peter Pan’s story suggests that before Hook became the infamous pirate, he was just another Lost Boy who loved Peter…and that Peter is the one to blame for the end of their friendship. 

RELATED: The Untold Story of Captain Hook 

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Buy Ruby Slippers, Golden Tears at Amazon

Ruby Slippers, Golden Tears

In this fairy tale retelling collection from award-winning editors Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling, authors explore other sides of childhood classics. Tanith Lee's dark short story, “The Beast,” introduces us to Vessavion (a rich, handsome man) and Isobel (a young woman that he marries), and their relationship filled with dark secrets that threaten their very existence. Also notable is “Hansel & Grettel" by Gahan Wilson, which depicts the ill-fated siblings as a pair of trust fund kids who fall into danger at a fancy resort, not a gingerbread house. 


Buy Heartless at Amazon


By Marissa Meyer

Every villain started somewhere, right? Before she was the Queen of Hearts, Catherine was just a girl who wanted to find love. Though she was one of the most desired girls in Wonderland, and a favorite of the unmarried King of Hearts, Catherine had a dream of opening a bakery with her best friend—a goal that Catherine's mother doesn't feel is worthy of a future queen. But when Catherine meets Jest, the handsome court joker, she finally feels the desire and pull she’s always wanted, and begins a secret courtship that threatens everything she holds dear. 


Buy Silver Birch, Blood Moon at Amazon

Silver Birch, Blood Moon

Windling and Datlow’s World Fantasy Award-winning collection of re-told fairy tales features stories like “Skin So Green and Fine,” by Wendy Wheeler—a Caribbean take on Beauty and the Beast that intertwines the voodoo religion with magic, and “The Sea Hag,” by Melissa Lee Shaw, a compelling retelling of The Little Mermaid from the point of view of the Sea Witch.

RELATED: Re-Read: Black Swan, White Raven  


Buy As Old As Time at Amazon

As Old As Time

By Liz Braswell

The corporation that brought fairy tales back into the mainstream is also getting in on the retelling action! The Disney Press published book, As Old As Time, reimagines Beauty and the Beast in a haunting way: What if Belle’s mother was the beautiful enchantress who cursed the beast? When Belle touches the rose, memories of a mother she thought she’d never see again flood back to her, and together, she and the Beast will have to unravel the dark mystery that haunts their families. 

RELATED: 10 Enchanting Beauty and the Beast Retellings 


Buy The Sleeper and the Spindle at Amazon

The Sleeper and the Spindle

By Neil Gaiman

Twisting together the stories of Snow White and Sleeping Beauty, Gaiman reimagines these fairy tales with the help of illustrator Chris Riddell. Though it’s a short read, this dark and twisted fairy tale is in the classic Gaiman style, and gives Snow White quite a well-deserved heroic makeover. 

RELATED: 12 Books to Read If You're a Fan of American Gods 


Buy Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister at Amazon

Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister

By Gregory Maguire

The author of Wicked writes this eye-opening retelling of Cinderella, which follows the stunning Clara (Cinderella), and her stepsister Iris. Set in 17th Century Holland, this engrossing retelling asks the questions “What’s the price of unnatural beauty?”. If you want to know what happened to Cinderella’s stepsisters after she rode off into the sunset with her handsome prince, this is the book for you.  

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Featured photo: Haitao Zeng / Unsplash