I want to do a whole series of posts on one of my favorite topics – fairy tale retellings. I figure what better place to start than one of the most well-known as well as most retold stories of them all – Cinderella.
Check out the Cinderella page on SurLaLune for the full annotated tale, a history of the Cinderella tale, a gallery of beautiful illustrations, examples of this story across many different cultures, and more.
There are a LOT of Cinderella retellings out there, so for ease of navigating this post I tried to split my recs into a few different categories: Contemporary romance, Historical romance, Fantasy, Sci-Fi/Paranormal/Urban Fantasy, YA Fantasy, YA Historical, YA Contemporary, and Children’s books. Yes, I know that’s a LOT of books in a LOT of categories… THERE ARE SO MANY! I promise this will be the most hugely unwieldy list in this series, but it’s not the most popular fairy tale to retell for nothin’!
Part of what makes Cinderella such a great tale to use for retelling is that it lends itself to both stories that use magic, and stories without. However a lot of contemporary romance Cinderella stories tend to be billionaire romances, and I don’t care for that trope at all, so my list here is a little sparse.
- Cyber Cinderella by Christina Hopkinson
- The Cinderella Pact by Sarah Strohmeyer
- The Cinderella Deal by Jennifer Crusie
- If the Shoe Fits by Rachel Lacey
Historical romance lends itself SO WELL to Cinderella retellings because they take us back to a time when balls are a regular thing, and where there is a definite class divide in the social stratum. Even without adding the magical fairy godmother to the story, there’s a lot more room to play in the historical romance sphere. Some of these are more overtly Cinderella retellings, and some have less obvious Cinderella themes. Also, since mistaken identities is one of my favorite tropes, you can see I’ve got a LOT to recommend here!
- An Offer From A Gentleman by Julia Quinn
- A Kiss at Midnight by Eloisa James
- Any Duchess Will Do by Tessa Dare
- Dreaming of You by Lisa Kleypas
- The Trouble with Being a Duke by Sophie Barnes
- The Prince Who Loved Me by Karen Hawkins
- The Murano Glass Slipper by Victoria Leybourne
- At the Bride Hunt Ball by Olivia Parker
- The Lady Meets Her Match by Gina Conkle
- The Forbidden Lord by Sabrina Jeffries
- One Night With You by Sophie Jordan
- A Midnight Dance by Lila DiPasqua
- Once Upon a Dream by Katherine Kingsley
Most of these fantasy retellings of Cinderella have a really strong romance element as well – which make sense, because Cinderella is a romance story. Just a note that Phoenix and Ashes is my favorite book (if you were to twist my arm and force me to pick just one) and I CANNOT recommend it enough. It’s a great Cinderella retelling, an AMAZING fantasy novel, and a lovely romance.
- Phoenix and Ashes by Mercedes Lackey
- Out of the Ashes by Alicia Buck
- Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister by Gregory Maguire
- Ashes of Roses by Christine Pope
- Dance by Demelza Carlton
I love when authors take a fairy tale and put it in a setting that seems super incongruous with the original story. I’m working on ideas for a series of fairy tale retellings in an urban fantasy setting, and working with my buddy Peekaboo on an Alice in Wonderland retelling that’s a private detective in space story.
- Cinder by Marissa Meyer
- Mechanica by Betsy Cornwell
- The Glass Slipper by Linda O. Johnston
- Godmother by Carolyn Turgeon
Maybe it’s because there’s this idea that fairy tales are for kids, but there are a lot of YA Cinderella retellings. These seem to be the most true to the original story, but expanded from a short story into a novel length extravaganza. Some of them also have some really fun and quirky twist! I love when they give the romance between Cinderella and her prince a focus beyond just looks. Some of these I first read as a teen or pre-teen, and now I’m in my thirties and I still love these stories.
- Princess of Glass by Jessica Day George
- Before Midnight by Cameron Dokey
- Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine
- The Captive Maiden by Melanie Dickerson
- Just Ella by Margaret Peterson Haddix
- Ash by Malinda Lo
- Ash & Bramble by Sarah Prineas
- Cinders by Finley Aaron
- Cinderella: Ninja Warrior by Maureen McGowan
- Fated by Kaylin Lee
- What is Hidden by Lauren Skidmore
This book is so amazing that I created its own category just so I could list it… It’s that good.
- Bound by Donna Jo Napoli
The high school social structure lends itself really well to the royalty vs. servant class division in the original story and translated into a modern setting – namely, the popular kids vs. the unpopular ones. There are a LOT more YA contemporary Cinderella stories than these I’ve listed here, but I tried to pick just a few favorites.
- The Cinderella Society by Kay Cassidy
- Cindy Ella by Robin Palmer
- Geekerella by Ashley Poston
- The Ugly Stepsister Strike Back by Sariah Wilson
- Bewitching by Alex Flynn
Some of these books I read as a child and treasured, and others I found later in life. They all have absolutely gorgeous illustrations, and I love the look into the Cinderella stories from other cultures.
- Yeh-Shen: A Cinderella Story from China by Ai-Ling Louie
- The Egyptian Cinderella by Shirley Climo
- The Korean Cinderella by Shirley Climo
- The Persian Cinderella by Shirley Climo
- Mufaro’s Beautiful Daughters by John Steptoe
- The Rough-Face Girl by Rafe Martin
- Glass Slipper, Gold Sandal: A Worldwide Cinderella by Paul Fleischman
Which Cinderella retelling is your favorite? Are there any you love that I didn’t capture in this (rather extensive!) list? And what fairy tale would you like me to babble about next? Let me know in the comments!
(This post contains affiliate links, and clicking the covers of the books will take you to their Amazon page via my affiliate link. This means I get a little commission if you choose to buy any of these books using my link. It’s just the easiest way to get pics of covers into my post, but if you’d like to support me and my blogging efforts, consider making a purchase using my links!)