Pick your poison: 12 fairy tale adaptations you should know about


My Fairy Godmother is a Drag Queen, by David Clawson

My Fairy Godmother is a Drag Queen is a retelling of the classic Cinderella story, with twists relatable to modern teens. The story centers on Chris, a high school boy trying to survive life with his socially ambitious, Upper East side step-family. His life changes when he meets a drag queen named Coco Chanel Jones, who doesn’t have a magic wand but who helps him learn to accept himself and his feelings for Manhattan golden boy J.J. Kennerly. Dealing with themes of family, sexuality, and fitting in without losing yourself, My Fairy Godmother is a Drag Queen stays current without losing the fairy tale qualities beloved by young adult readers to this day.

Clawson, D. (2017). My Fairy Godmother is a Drag Queen. New York, New York: Sky Pony.



Tear You Apart, by Sarah Cross

Tear You Apart is a twist on the traditional Snow White tale, with elements of The Twelve Dancing Princesses tied in. It centers on 17-year-old Viv, cursed to die by either the apple-wielding hand of her stepmother or the blade of her sometimes-boyfriend Henley, unless she gives up her love and marries the underworld prince destined to save her. Falling in love and choosing your own fate are a huge part of being a teenager, for both Viv and those reading her story. This standalone story is the second book in the Beau Rivage series, for those interested in continuing the series.

Cross, S. (2015). Tear You Apart. New York, New York: Egmont Publishing.



Forest of a Thousand Lanterns, by Julie C. Dao

A darker take on the classic Snow White tale, Forest of a Thousand Lanterns gives the backstory of the traditionally villainous step-mother character. Set in the Asiatic empire of Fung Lu, the story follows Xifeng, a beautiful peasant girl raised by her aunt Guma, rumored to be a witch. Xifeng has seen her future splayed out in Guma’s cards, and travels to the capitol to fulfill her destiny. However, there is a high price for her success, and Xifeng must endure heartbreak and the consequences of dark magic to reach the throne. This retelling is far from Disney version, with fantasy and romance likely to appeal to young adults eager to escape from tradition.

Dao, J.C. (2017). Forest of a Thousand Lanterns. New York, New York: Philomel Books.



Stitching Snow, by R.C. Lewis

Stitching Snow, by R.C. Lewis, is sure to appeal to fans of Marissa Mayer’s Lunar Chronicles series. Set in a technologically advanced, futuristic society where traveling among planets and repairing robots is the norm, the story centers on a young princess missing from her home planet. Princess Snow wins in fights, knows how to code, and ends up being instrumental in saving the galaxy. This is modern heroine with real agency, relatable to modern teens not content with waiting for a prince to save them.

Lewis, R.C. (2014). Stitching Snow. New York, New York: Hyperion.



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

A Court of Thorns and Roses is the first book in the wildly popular fantasy trilogy by Sarah J. Maas. This tale, inspired by aspects of Beauty and the Beast, follows nineteen-year-old Feyre as she fights for survival in a world that is ravaged by war between humans and fae. In retribution for killing a certain wolf, Feyre is taken captive by a shape-shifting faerie named Tamlin and brought to live on his enchanted estate. As her feelings toward him soften, so do the realm’s defenses against an evil faerie queen hellbent on revenge. Admirably independent and fierce, Feyre is a heroine worth reading about for young adults looking for a fix of twisted fairy tales and girl power.

Maas, S. (2015). A Court of Thorns and Roses. London, England: Bloomsbury.



The True Story of Hansel and Gretel, by Louise Murphy

Certainly a dark fairy tale to begin with, here the traditional Hansel and Gretel tale is taken out fantasy land and plunked into WWII era Poland. In Louise Murphy’s True Story of Hansel and Gretel, two Jewish children are sent into the woods by their father and stepmother in an attempt to outrun their Nazi pursuers. Taken in by an old woman named Magda, the children adopt the names Hansel and Gretel and assume fake identities in order to survive. Heartbreaking because of its setting in a very real part of history, this retelling brings the story alive in a way that younger generations can understand and connect with.

Murphy, L. (2003). The True Story of Hansel and Gretel. New York, New York: Penguin.



The Girls at the Kingfisher Club, by Genevieve Valentine

This fresh take on the lesser-known 12 Dancing Princesses tale throws the 12 fine-footed ladies into the dance-crazed speakeasy clubs of the Roaring Twenties. Sneaking out from under the eyes of their controlling father to go dancing every night, the girls are living the flapper dream…until one of their haunts gets raided, and their father decides its time to marry them off. The bonds of sisterhood and young love play out over the glamorous backdrop of Jazz Age New York, a story sure to be the bees-knees to young women blazing their own stories in modern day.

Valentine, G. (2014). The Girls at the Kingfisher Club. New York, New York: Washington Square Press.



Boy, Snow, Bird, by Helen Oyeyemi

The story of Boy, Snow, Bird, plays out over the backdrop of 1950s New England. Boy, a girl of 20 when the book begins, runs away from her abusive father in Manhattan and ends up in the smaller town of Flax Hill, Massachusetts. The story stands out from other retellings of Snow White, not only because of the setting but because the protagonist (Boy) is the stepmother in the story, and we see the tale unfold through her eyes. Dealing with race, blended families, and interracial relationships in the 1950s, Boy, Snow, Bird, approaches from a different angle issues still very relevant to people growing up and living in modern-day America.

Oyeyemi, H. (2013). Boy, Snow, Bird. New York, New York: Riverhead Books.



Snow White: A Graphic Novel, by Matt Phelan

This unique retelling of Snow White begins in 1920s New York. Through author/illustrator Matt Phelan’s bold black and white images, we witness the stock market crash and the subsequent years of struggle for people who lost everything. Samantha “Snow” White, daughter of a Wallstreet bigwig, returns from the exile imposed by her stepmother to find her father dead and her stepmother plotting her death. This lushly illustrated, jealousy-fueled mystery plays out during the Great Depression. It is a great choice for fans of classic stories and graphic novels and is a good introduction of the “film noir” storytelling aesthetic to younger crowds.

Phelan, M. (2016). Snow White: A Graphic Novel. Somerville, Massachusetts: Candlewick Press.



Sydney White (Universal Pictures)

Starring former Nickelodeon star Amanda Bynes, this rom-com is a retelling of Snow White. Title character Sydney is a university freshman, duking it out with the evil head of the Kappa sorority house. Enlisting the help of the “seven dorks” living in a nearby, unpopular fraternity, she wins the election to become the new Kappa president, as well as the attention of popular fraternity president Tyler. This quirky retelling serves as a comedic escape for those dealing with school and relationship drama of their own. (Rated PG-13 for language, partying scenes, and brief sexual content).

Robinson, J.G, Robinson, D.C, Werber, C. (Producers), & Nussbaum, J. (Director). (2007). Sydney White [Motion picture]. United States: Universal Pictures.



The Glass Casket, by McCormick Templeman

The Glass Casket takes place in a small, mountain village, where a teenage girl named Rowan Rose lives with her father. Mysterious disappearances in the neighboring forest followed by the murder of her beautiful cousin find Rowan dealing with dark and deadly forces. At the same time, she’s trying to deal with the relationship between herself and her best friend Tom, not knowing whether she fears losing him or her independence more. This fantasy-horror twist on the original Snow White story deals with young love, family, fear, and loss, issues not so foreign to teens on the brink of adulthood.

Templeman, M. (2014). The Glass Casket. New York, New York: Delacorte Press.



Six-Gun Snow White, by Catherynne M. Valente

Set in the Old West, Six-Gun Snow White tells the story of Snow White, named so by her hateful stepmother, in cruel jest for the skin color she inherited from her Native American mother. The beautifully-imagined, western landscape and adventurous spirit of the heroine make for an empowering retelling of the original fairy tale. This is an honest story of strength and navigating young adulthood and forging boundaries through adverse conditions, part of the process of growing up even in modern day.

Valente. C.M. (2013). Six-Gun Snow White. Burton, Michigan: Subterranean Press.



Links for the Amazon.com page for each item are included under each entry. Goodreads.com is also a helpful resource to consult for more information, reviews, and similar recommendations.