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5 Must-Read YA Retellings by Authors of Colour

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Adiba Jaigirdar

Staff Writer

Adiba Jaigirdar is an Irish-Bangladeshi writer, poet, and teacher. She resides in Dublin, Ireland and has an MA in postcolonial studies. She is currently working on her own postcolonial novel and hopes that someday it will see the light of day outside of her computer screen. Twitter: @adiba_j

In recent years, we’ve seen a lot of YA retellings of classic stories; from Jane Austen to Shakespeare, and even Grimm’s fairytales. I’ve been especially happy to see all of the stories that have been retold by authors of colour and the way that they’ve brought their own unique twist to classic tales. Here are five amazing YA retellings by authors of colour that you should add to your TBR.

Cinderella is Dead

Cinderella Is Dead by Kalynn Bayron

Bayron’s Cinderella Is Dead takes the classic tale of Cinderella that we all know and builds around it in a way that makes the story feel brand new. In the world of Cinderella Is Dead, the story of Cinderella is used to oppress women, even 200 years after Cinderella’s existence. Sophia knows that like every other girl, she is supposed to attend the ball and let a man choose her as his wife. But Sophia is in love with her best friend, Erin, and she hates the misogynistic traditions of her kingdom. On the night of the ball, things go horribly wrong, forcing Sophia to flee into Cinderella’s tomb. There, she meets someone who might be able to help Sophia fight for the world she wants.

Pride by Ibi Zoboi cover image

Pride by Ibi Zoboi

Zuri Benitez has pride in her family, her Afro-Latinx roots, and her neighbourhood. But her neighbourhood is quickly becoming gentrified into a place that she doesn’t recognise anymore. And when the wealthy Darcy family moves in across the street, Zuri is not eager to befriend them. While her sister Jane is falling for Ainsley, Zuri can’t stand his brother Darius. But circumstances might lead to Zuri and Darius having to put their differences aside. Ibi Zoboi’s take on Pride and Prejudice is full of charming characters, heart, and humour, while also tackling important issues like gentrification.

forest of a thousand lanterns

Forest of a Thousand Lanterns by Julie C. Dao

Forest of A Thousand Lanterns imagines the story of the Evil Queen, set in a fantasy East Asia. Eighteen-year-old Xifeng knows that she is destined for greatness. She wants to be the Empress of Feng Lu. But in order to become the Empress, Xifeng will need to give in to the darkness inside of her. Julie C. Dao’s unputdownable fantasy brings a new take on Snow White’s Evil Queen. One that will leave readers both horrified and sympathetic to Xifeng’s plights.

Of Curses and Kisses by Sandhya Menon

Set in an elite boarding school, Of Curses and Kisses is a contemporary spin on the Beauty and the Beast fairy tale. The Rao family and the Emerson clan have a centuries-old feud and when Jaya’s little sister gets caught up in it, Jaya is determined for revenge. She’s going to make Emerson Grey fall in love with her and break his heart. But to her dismay, there might be more to Grey than she had anticipated, and she finds herself drawn in. Can Jaya and Grey have a happy ending?

These Violent Delights

These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong (November 2020)

Chloe Gong’s upcoming novel takes Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet to 1920s Shanghai. Juliette Cai and Roma Montagov are from rival gangs in Shanghai. When strange whispers begin in the street about a monster, and dead bodies begin to turn up, Juliette and Roma are forced to put their differences aside, and fight to save their city. Filled with Gong’s lush prose, These Violent Delights brings 1920s Shanghai to life, along with a romance that is weighed with history.