I didn’t know it at the time, but I grew up reading fairytale retellings. Books like Cinder Edna and The True Story of the Three Little Pigs, as well as a number of the books included on this list, gave me a more nuanced look at what a fairytale could be. As I got older and watched Brandy’s Cinderella and Ever After, I saw just how much a story could change in the retelling — and I loved it. And with the way that fairytales are told and retold over the years, there are an awful lot of Cinderella retellings out there these days. Whether you’re a fairytale aficionado or just looking for one great rags-to-riches story, these are some of the best Cinderella retellings out there.
Find the retelling perfect for you, from YA science fiction or modern adult romance to adorably illustrated graphic novels. Go ahead. Try the best of the best Cinderella retellings on for size!
Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine
A Cinderella classic from my childhood. Ella was enchanted by fairies at birth. Two of the fairies granted her wonderful gifts, but the third left her with an unexpected curse: to always obey. Throughout her childhood, her parents did their best to keep her obedient nature hidden for her safety. That’s easier said than done when simply phrasing a request the wrong way could leave Ella forced to complete ridiculous tasks to the letter. Still, Ella’s feisty spirit and cleverness usually keep her one step ahead. But after her mother dies and her father remarries, things take a turn for the worse. With a terrible new stepmother and stepsisters whose growing understanding of her curse puts her life in danger, she sets out on a quest to find the fairy who did this to her and save herself from its effects once and for all. Along the way, she finds herself fighting off ogres, befriending elves, and maybe even falling for a prince.
Full of fantasy goodness and lots of heart, this is a great retelling for kids and teens. And one of my favorites from childhood!
Cinderella is Dead by Kalynn Bayron
A Cinderella reimagining unlike any other. Two hundred years after the death of the real-life Cinderella, little girls are expected to know the palace-approved version of the story backwards and forwards. Why? Because it will make them more appealing to their potential suitors at the annual ball they’re required to attend when of age. Sophia wants a different life. In love with her best friend, she longs to run away and find a better life away from the cruel thumb of King Manford. But when things go terribly wrong at her first ball, she’s forced to flee for her life, chased by the palace guards. In the woods, she finds the last things she ever expected: Cinderella’s grave. A place she didn’t know existed. And with it, she discovers the last of Cinderella’s living ancestors…and the truth about the story she’s always been told.
This is truly a retelling for the modern day.
Geekerella by Ashley Poston
Cinderella doesn’t have to be set in some fantasy past or dystopian future, though. Why not a Cinderella story for a modern teen set, well, where else? A sci-fi convention, of course. Elle is maybe the world’s biggest fan of Starfield. It’s the sci-fi show she and her father used to share together. So when she sees a cosplay competition where the winner gets invited to the ExcelsiCon Cosplay Ball as well as a meet-and-greet with the actor cast as Federation Prince Carmindor in the upcoming movie reboot, she’s determined to win. And with her savings from The Magic Pumpkin (her stepmother’s food truck), her father’s old costume, and a best friend with a knack for sewing, it seems like she has everything she needs to make a real impression. Assuming her celebrity-obsessed stepsisters don’t beat her to it.
Ash by Malinda Lo
Reading fairytales by the cooling embers of the fire is the only comfort Ash can find in the wake of her father’s death. She dreams of a fairy coming to steal her away from her cruel stepmother. When she meets the fairy Sidhean she thinks that fairytale has finally come true. But the fae are dangerous. And Sidhean has already claimed her for his own. It’s not until she meets the King’s Huntress, Kaisa, that Ash begins to realize the true extent of the dangers of the fae. But will she be able to choose true love over the fairytale dreams that connect her to her father?
Sometime After Midnight by L. Philips
A teen music prodigy and the heir to the record label that ruined his father’s life hit it off at a nightclub. But when Nate flees after realizing who Cameron really is, all that’s left is a blurry photo of Nate’s scribbled-on Chucks. Cameron’s basically a real-life Prince Charming, so it’s only fitting that he sets out on a social media search to discover the owner of the Sharpied shoes. It’s a real-life modern day fairytale that breaks the internet.
Cinderella Boy by Kristina Meister
Declan is tired of pretending to be someone he’s not. Carter, the most popular boy in school, is tired of not standing up for what he believes in. After meeting at a party in his sister’s clothes as Layla, Declan realizes he and Carter could have something special. But Carter has no idea who he really is. And when the school embraces an intolerance policy, the two of them have to fight for what they believe in, for each other and themselves.
Rogue Princess by B.R. Myers
This gender-swapped sci-fi reimagining of Cinderella takes place on a far off planet where a princess fleeing an arranged marriage is forced to team up with a commoner when she steals a spaceship where he was stowing away. A runaway princess and a thief — it’s an unlikely pairing. But when the two discover a rebel plot that threatens to destroy their home planet, they find something more important to fight for.
Middle Grade Graphic Novels
The Magic Fish by Trung Le Nguyen
Tiến loves fairytales, but real life doesn’t resemble them very much. He’s searching for the right words to tell his mother he’s gay, but unsure what that might be when he doesn’t even know the words in Vietnamese. Language and cultural barriers create a gap between them, but they fill that gap with stories. Through a series of gorgeously illustrated fairytales retold by various characters as a way to share their feelings, Tiến and his mother share their love — and understanding — for each other. A graphic novel that is just stunning in every sense of the word.
The Prince and the Dressmaker by Jen Wang
A young dressmaker is called upon to help a prince who is hiding a double life. By day, he tries to put off his parents insistence he finds a bride. By night, he wears Frances’s beautiful creations and takes on the town as Lady Crystallia. But nobody else knows he sometimes wears dresses. How long can he hide his true self — especially when doing so means his best friend isn’t getting the recognition she deserves? A Cinderella story with a genderfluid prince and the talented seamstress who has seen the real him all along.
If The Shoe Fits by Julie Murphy
This upcoming reality show take on Cinderella from Julie Murphy checks all the boxes for me. Author I love? Check. (She also wrote Dumplin’ and Dear Sweet Pea, among others.) Unique, modern take on a fairytale? Check. Fat-positive rep? Check. Swoony romance? Check and check. Cindy is a shoe designer trying to make it in the world of fashion. When a spot opens up on her stepmothers beloved reality show, Before Midnight, she offers to fill in. Maybe it will finally bring some much-needed attention to her work. But it turns out being the only plus-sized contestant on a reality dating competition makes you a bit of a body-positive icon. She can work with that. What she doesn’t expect is to find actual love along the way.
Release date: August 3, 2021
If The Boot Fits by Rebekah Weatherspoon
A one-night stand and a mix-up with their swag bags at a Hollywood after party leaves Sam Pleasant’s recent Oscar win in Amanda Queen’s hands. But maybe that’s not such a bad thing if that means they’ll have to meet up again. Amanda may just be a struggling personal assistant to a Hollywood diva trying to sell her screenplay, but Sam sees her for who she really is. And a trip to his family’s ranch gives them the opportunity to see each other without the veneer of stardom and Hollywood getting in the way. A smart and sexy modern take on a Cinderella romance.
The Charmed Wife by Olga Grushin
What happens after the royal wedding and happily ever after? Thirteen years and two children later, the fairytale ending has lost its charm. Her husband isn’t exactly who she thought he was. How does Cinderella find herself searching out a witch, not for a love potion, but for poison? This is that story. Dark and twisty and full of malicious magic.
All About Stepsisters
The Ugly Stepsister by Aya Ling
A girl is transported to the world of Cinderella after accidentally destroying an enchanted picture book. But she doesn’t show up as the eponymous character. No, Kat is Katriona, one of the ugly stepsisters. Suddenly, she has to learn to survive high society life, hoop skirts and all. Her only hope of getting home is to complete the story, complete with its happy ending. Easier said than done with a couple of gorgeous sisters by her side, a missing fairy godmother, and a prince who openly loathes balls.
The Ugly Stepsister Strikes Back by Sariah Wilson
Everybody knows the story of Cinderella, but what about the stepsisters? How does it feel for your perfect, pretty sister to get the guy you’ve been crushing on since you were nine? Not so good. But that’s exactly what’s happened to Mattie Lowe. Her mother won’t stop belittling her, the school mean girl has set her eyes on Mattie, and the guy of her dreams, Jake Kingston, is dating her stepsister. But instead of sitting around and waiting for her fairy godmother to show up, Mattie decides to take fate into her own hands and run for student body president against Jake. Forget getting the guy, Mattie’s going to run the school. It’s time for the ugly stepsisters to step up.
Stepsister by Jennifer Donnelly
Isabelle is about to win the prince. But she’s not the perfect girl with the missing glass slipper. She’s the stepsister who cut off her toes to fit the slipper, and now it’s filling with blood. When the prince discovers her deception, she’s banished. Isabelle has always tried to fit in, but she’s a plain and feisty girl in a world that only values beauty and compliance. Being forced to change herself, always cutting away pieces to fit in, has made her hollow and mean. But now Isabelle finally has a chance to prove it takes more than heartbreak to break a girl. She’s more than strong enough to survive.
A Princess in Theory by Alyssa Cole
While not strictly marketed as a Cinderella retelling, Cole’s whole Reluctant Royals series (and new Runaway Royals series) have some major fairytale vibes. Especially her first book in the series, A Princess in Theory. As a former foster kid, Naledi Smith has no time for fairytales, much less fake African princes claiming she’s their long lost betrothed. Sure. She’ll stick to science and facts, thank you. But Prince Thabiso really is a prince. And he’s determined to get to the bottom of why the girl he was betrothed to as a child was whisked away to American by her parents — the ultimate betrayal to the throne of Thesolo. Naledi has no interest in princes, though. And the more Thabiso gets to know her, the more certain he is that she’s the one for him. Even if she has no idea who he really is. Trust me when I say this is a swoon-worthy tale.
Now that you’ve seen some of the best Cinderella retellings out there, maybe you want to check out even more fairytale retellings. To get more of your fairytale fill, check out out list of 100 must-read fairytale retellings, 7 intersectional retellings, a list of multicultural Cinderella picture books, and a great exploration of why exactly fairytale are retold time and again.