Wednesday, 21 April 2021

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Most Anticipated 2021 Retellings

Most Anticipated 2021 Retellings

Most Anticipated 2021 Retellings


Titles marked with an asterisk (*) were gifted to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.


As regular readers will know, I'm a huge fan of retellings, and I've recently discovered a few coming out this year that I'm super excited about.

I know, I know; it's April, and we're over a quarter of the way into the year, so I'm quite late in writing this post. But hopefully there'll be a few titles to add to your TBR here, so you'll forgive my lateness. On with the list!

Into the Heartless Wood by Joanna Ruth MeyerInto the Heartless Wood by Joanna Ruth Meyer (12th January 2021)

A gender-reimagined retelling of Beauty and the Beast by Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve

The forest is a dangerous place, where siren song lures men and women to their deaths.

Deep in the wood lives a witch queen and her eight tree siren daughters. For centuries, they have harvested souls to feed the heartless tree, using its power to grow their ever reaching kingdom of ash, birch, and oak.

Owen Merrick lives at the edge of the forest, mapping the stars for the king in his father's observatory. For years, he has resisted venturing over the garden wall, until one day he must enter the woods to find his missing sister. But one of the witch's tree siren daughters, Seren, decides to save his life instead of end it. Now, no matter how hard he tries, he can't stop thinking about her -- the birch-bright hue of her skin and the way violets bloom in her hair. Every night, he goes into the wood to meet her, and their love for each other grows.

But when the constellations shift, the stars foretell an inevitable war between the witch queen and the king. With Seren compelled to fight for her mother, and Owen forced to join the king's army, they are plunged into the heart of a conflict that seemingly no one can win and that might destroy both their kingdoms forever.
From StoryGraph.

StoryGraph | Goodreads


The Mirror Season by Anna-Marie McLemoreThe Mirror Season by Anna-Marie McLemore (16th March 2021)

Retelling of The Snow Queen by Hans Christian Anderson

When two teens discover that they were both sexually assaulted at the same party, they develop a cautious friendship through her family's possibly-magical pastelería, his secret forest of otherworldly trees, and the swallows returning to their hometown, in Anna-Marie McLemore's The Mirror Season...

Graciela Cristales' whole world changes after she and a boy she barely knows are assaulted at the same party. She loses her gift for making enchanted pan dulce. Neighborhood trees vanish overnight, while mirrored glass appears, bringing reckless magic with it. And Ciela is haunted by what happened to her, and what happened to the boy whose name she never learned.

But when the boy, Lock, shows up at Ciela's school, he has no memory of that night, and no clue that a single piece of mirrored glass is taking his life apart. Ciela decides to help him, which means hiding the truth about that night. Because Ciela knows who assaulted her, and him. And she knows that her survival, and his, depend on no one finding out what really happened.
From StoryGraph

StoryGraph | Goodreads


The Seventh Raven by David ElliottThe Seventh Raven by David Elliott (16th March 2021)

Retelling of The Seventh Raven by The Brothers Grimm

Best-selling author David Elliott examines the timeless themes of balance, transformation, and restoration in this evocative tale about a girl who will stop at nothing to reverse a curse that turned her seven brothers into ravens.

And these are the sons
Of good Jack and good Jane
The eldest is Jack
And the next one is Jack
And the third one's called Jack
And the fourth's known as Jack
And the fifth says he's Jack
And they call the sixth Jack
But the seventh's not Jack
The seventh is Robyn

And this is his story

When Robyn and his brothers are turned into ravens through the work of an unlucky curse, a sister is their only hope to become human again. Though she's never met her brothers, April will stop at nothing to restore their humanity. But what about Robyn, who always felt a greater affinity to the air than to the earth-bound lives of his family?

David Elliott's latest novel in verse explores the unintended consequences of our actions, no matter our intentions, and is filled with powerful, timeless messages teased from a Grimms' fairy tale. Black-and-white illustrations throughout by Rovina Cai.
From StoryGraph.

StoryGraph | Goodreads


Sistersong by Lucy HollandSistersong by Lucy Holland* (15th April 2021)

Retelling of the folk ballad The Two Sisters

King Cador’s children inherit a land abandoned by the Romans, torn by warring tribes. Riva can cure others, but can’t heal her own scars. Keyne battles to be seen as the king’s son, although born a daughter. And Sinne dreams of love, longing for adventure.

All three fear a life of confinement within the walls of the hold, their people’s last bastion of strength against the invading Saxons. However, change comes on the day ash falls from the sky – bringing Myrdhin, meddler and magician. The siblings discover the power that lies within them and the land. But fate also brings Tristan, a warrior whose secrets will tear them apart.

Riva, Keyne and Sinne become entangled in a web of treachery and heartbreak, and must fight to forge their own paths. It’s a story that will shape the destiny of Britain.
From StoryGraph.

StoryGraph | Goodreads


The Light of the Midnight Stars by Rena RossnerThe Light of the Midnight Stars by Rena Rossner (15th April 2021)

Retelling of The Boys of the Golden Stars by Mite Kremnitz

An evocative combination of fantasy, history, and Jewish folklore, The Light of the Midnight Stars is fairytale-inspired novel from the author of The Sisters of the Winter Wood.

Deep in the Hungarian woods, the sacred magic of King Solomon lives on in his descendants. Gathering under the midnight stars, they pray, sing and perform small miracles - and none are more gifted than the great Rabbi Isaac and his three daughters. Each one is blessed with a unique talent - whether it be coaxing plants to grow, or predicting the future by reading the path of the stars.

When a fateful decision to help an outsider ends in an accusation of witchcraft, fire blazes through their village. Rabbi Isaac and his family are forced to flee, to abandon their magic and settle into a new way of life. But a dark fog is making its way across Europe and will, in the end, reach even those who thought they could run from it. Each of the sisters will have to make a choice - and change the future of their family forever.
From StoryGraph.

StoryGraph | Goodreads


These Feathered Flames by Alexandra OveryThese Feathered Flames by Alexandra Overy (20th April 2021)

Retelling of Russian folktale The Firebird

Magic demands payment.

Two sisters. Separated by duty. One certain truth: magic always comes with a price. In the land of Tóurin, when twin heirs are born, one is raised to rule and the other becomes the next Firebird, a creature to ensure magic remains balanced.

While Izaveta remained at court, learning the lies and deception needed to survive, Asya was taken away to train with her aunt, the mysterious and deadly Firebird. But before Asya’s training is completed, the ancient power suddenly blooms inside her, which can mean only one thing: the queen is dead, and a new ruler must be crowned. Asya returns to court for her sister’s coronation, only to feel the stirring of her first calling as the Firebird.

Now, she must navigate the unfamiliar territory of the royal courts, where friend and foe are often one and the same, to hunt down the person who used the forbidden magic. But not all is as it seems, for magic is dying in Tóurin, political schemes are in motion, and the two sisters will soon find how much their years apart have changed them both.
From StoryGraph.

StoryGraph | Goodreads


Ariadne by Jennifer SaintAriadne by Jennifer Saint* (29th April 2021)

Retelling of the Greek myth of Theseus and the Minotaur

As Princesses of Crete and daughters of the fearsome King Minos, Ariadne and her sister Phaedra grow up hearing the hoofbeats and bellows of the Minotaur echo from the Labyrinth beneath the palace. The Minotaur - Minos's greatest shame and Ariadne's brother - demands blood every year.

When Theseus, Prince of Athens, arrives in Crete as a sacrifice to the beast, Ariadne falls in love with him. But helping Theseus kill the monster means betraying her family and country, and Ariadne knows only too well that in a world ruled by mercurial gods - drawing their attention can cost you everything.

In a world where women are nothing more than the pawns of powerful men, will Ariadne's decision to betray Crete for Theseus ensure her happy ending? Or will she find herself sacrificed for her lover's ambition?

ARIADNE gives a voice to the forgotten women of one of the most famous Greek myths, and speaks to their strength in the face of angry, petulant Gods. Beautifully written and completely immersive, this is an exceptional debut novel.
From StoryGraph.

StoryGraph | Goodreads


For the Wolf by Hannah WhittenFor the Wolf by Hannah Whitten* (15th June 2021)

Retelling of Little Red Riding Hood by Charles Perrault / The Brothers Grimm and Beauty and the Beast by Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve

The first daughter is for the Throne. The second daughter is for the Wolf.

For fans of Uprooted and The Bear and the Nightingale comes a dark, sweeping debut fantasy novel about a young woman who must be sacrificed to the legendary Wolf of the Wood to save her kingdom. But not all legends are true, and the Wolf isn’t the only danger lurking in the Wilderwood.

As the only Second Daughter born in centuries, Red has one purpose-to be sacrificed to the Wolf in the Wood in the hope he’ll return the world’s captured gods.

Red is almost relieved to go. Plagued by a dangerous power she can’t control, at least she knows that in the Wilderwood, she can’t hurt those she loves. Again.

But the legends lie. The Wolf is a man, not a monster. Her magic is a calling, not a curse. And if she doesn’t learn how to use it, the monsters the gods have become will swallow the Wilderwood-and her world-whole.
From StoryGraph.

StoryGraph | Goodreads


Sisters of the Snake by Serena and Sasha NanuaSisters of the Snake by Serena and Sasha Nanua (15th June 2021)

Retelling of The Prince and the Pauper by Mark Twain

A lost princess. A mysterious puppet master. And a race against time—before all is lost.

Princess Rani longs for a chance to escape her gilded cage and prove herself. Ria is a street urchin, stealing just to keep herself alive.

When these two lives collide, everything turns on its head: because Ria and Rani, orphan and royal, are unmistakably identical.

A deal is struck to switch places—but danger lurks in both worlds, and to save their home, thief and princess must work together. Or watch it all fall into ruin.

Deadly magic, hidden temples, and dark prophecies: Sisters of the Snake is an action-packed, immersive fantasy that will thrill fans of The Wrath & the Dawn and The Tiger at Midnight.
From StoryGraph.

StoryGraph | Goodreads


Malice by Heather WalterMalice by Heather Walter* (8th June 2021)

Retelling of Sleeping Beauty by Giambattista Basile / Charles Perrault / The Brothers Grimm

A princess isn’t supposed to fall for an evil sorceress. But in this darkly magical retelling of “Sleeping Beauty,” true love is more than a simple fairy tale.

Once upon a time, there was a wicked fairy who, in an act of vengeance, cursed a line of princesses to die. A curse that could only be broken by true love’s kiss.

You’ve heard this before, haven’t you? The handsome prince. The happily ever after.

Utter nonsense.

Let me tell you, no one in Briar actually cares about what happens to its princesses. Not the way they care about their jewels and elaborate parties and charm-granting elixirs. I thought I didn’t care, either.

Until I met her.

Princess Aurora. The last heir to Briar’s throne. Kind. Gracious. The future queen her realm needs. One who isn’t bothered that I am Alyce, the Dark Grace, abhorred and feared for the mysterious dark magic that runs in my veins. Humiliated and shamed by the same nobles who pay me to bottle hexes and then brand me a monster. Aurora says I should be proud of my gifts. That she... cares for me. Even though a power like mine was responsible for her curse.

But with less than a year until that curse will kill her, any future I might see with Aurora is swiftly disintegrating—and she can’t stand to kiss yet another insipid prince. I want to help her. If my power began her curse, perhaps it’s what can lift it. Perhaps together we could forge a new world.

Nonsense again. Because we all know how this story ends, don’t we? Aurora is the beautiful princess. And I—

I am the villain.
From StoryGraph.

StoryGraph | Goodreads


Six Crimson Cranes by Elizabeth LimSix Crimson Cranes by Elizabeth Lim (8th July 2021)

Retelling of The Wild Swans by Hans Christian Anderson / The Six Swans by The Brothers Grimm.

A princess in exile, a shapeshifting dragon, six enchanted cranes, and an unspeakable curse...

Shiori’anma, the only princess of Kiata, has a secret. Forbidden magic runs through her veins. Normally she conceals it well, but on the morning of her betrothal ceremony, Shiori loses control. At first, her mistake seems like a stroke of luck, forestalling the wedding she never wanted, but it also catches the attention of Raikama, her stepmother.

A sorceress in her own right, Raikama banishes the young princess, turning her brothers into cranes, and warning Shiori that she must speak of it to no one: for with every word that escapes her lips, one of her brothers will die.

Penniless, voiceless, and alone, Shiori searches for her brothers, and uncovers a dark conspiracy to seize the throne. Only Shiori can set the kingdom to rights, but to do so she must place her trust in a paper bird, a mercurial dragon, as well as the very boy she fought so hard not to marry. And she must embrace the magic she’s been taught all her life to contain – no matter what it costs her.

A beautiful and immersive YA fantasy retelling of the Grimm brothers’ The Six Swans fairytale, set in an East-Asian inspired world, by the author of Spin the Dawn.
From StoryGraph.

StoryGraph | Goodreads

Beasts and Beauty: Dangerous Tales by Soman ChainaniBeasts and Beauty: Dangerous Tales by Soman Chainani (28th September 2021)

Retellings of various fairy tales

Twelve tales, twelve dangerous tales of mystery, magic, and rebellious hearts. Each twists like a spindle to reveal truths full of warning and triumph, truths that capture hearts long kept tame and set them free, truths that explore life . . . and death.

A prince has a surprising awakening...

A boy refuses to become prey...

A path to happiness is lost... then found again.

New York Times bestselling author Soman Chainani respins old stories into fresh fairy tales for a new era and creates a world like no other. These stories know you. They understand you. They reflect you. They are tales for our times. So read on, if you dare.
From StoryGraph.

StoryGraph | Goodreads

Little Thieves by Margaret OwenLittle Thieves by Margaret Owen* (5th October 2021)

Retelling of The Goose Girl by The Brothers Grimm

A scrappy maid must outsmart both palace nobles and Low Gods in a new YA fantasy by Margaret Owen, author of the Merciful Crow series.

The little thief steals gold, but the great one steals kingdoms;
And only one goes to the gallows...

Vanja Schmidt knows no gift is freely given, not even a mother’s love. Abandoned to Death and Fortune as a child, she has scraped by as a lowly maidservant with her quick wits and the ability to see her god-mothers’ hands at work in the world. But when they demand her lifelong servitude in exchange, Vanja decides that gifts not given freely... can always be stolen.

When an opportunity rises to steal a string of enchanted pearls, Vanja seizes it, transforming herself into Gisele, the princess she’s served for years. As the glamorous princess, Vanja leads a double life, charming the nobility while ransacking their coffers as a jewel thief. Then, one heist away from funding an escape from her god-mothers, Vanja crosses the wrong god, and is cursed to turn into jewels herself. The only way to save herself is to make up for what she’s taken—starting with her first victim, Princess Gisele.

A wicked retelling of “The Goose Girl,” Little Thieves is a delightfully witty YA fantasy about the fickle hands of fate, and changing the cards we’re dealt.
From StoryGraph.

StoryGraph | Goodreads


A Splintered Spindle by Alix E. HarrowA Splintered Spindle by Alix E. Harrow (5th October 2021)

Retelling of Sleeping Beauty by Giambattista Basile / Charles Perrault / The Brothers Grimm

It's Zinnia Gray's twenty-first birthday, which is extra-special because it's the last birthday she'll ever have. When she was young, an industrial accident left Zinnia with a rare condition. Not much is known about her illness, just that no-one has lived past twenty-one.

Her best friend Charm is intent on making Zinnia's last birthday special with a full sleeping beauty experience, complete with a tower and a spinning wheel. But when Zinnia pricks her finger, something strange and unexpected happens, and she finds herself falling through worlds, with another sleeping beauty, just as desperate to escape her fate.
From StoryGraph.

StoryGraph | Goodreads


These next four aren't retellings, but I'm giving them an honourary mention, because they're inspired by the folklore of Korea, Yoruba traditions, Hungary, and Malaysia respectively, and sound bloody incredible!

Folklorn by Angela Mi Young HurFolklorn by Angela Mi Young Hur (27th April 2021)

Elsa Park is a physicist at the top of her game, stationed at an international observatory in Antarctica thousands of miles from ghosts that have haunted her family her entire life. But even the South Pole can't prevent her childhood imaginary friend from finding her. The reappearance of this ghostly apparition signals that the curse her mother told her afflicted the women of their line--who were doomed to repeat the narrative lives of their ancestors from Korean folklore, and whose story Elsa has tried desperately to outrun--is finally catching up to her.

Elsa can't get rid of the ghost girl who leads her, White Rabbit-like, to a Stockholm professor of Korean poetry. Even more disconcerting, she learns that her mother, who went mute and catatonic after a mysterious accident in Elsa's adolescence, has suddenly spoken for the first time in decades, muttering about "the other girl."

When tragedy strikes, Elsa must return to the childhood home and cultural lore she rejected in favor of ambition and hard science. There, she grapples with a splintered family as she seeks long-elusive answers in the handwritten pages of her mother's dark folktales. Meanwhile, the fate Elsa spent her adult life running from looms ever closer. Just how tightly bound is she to the stories that cursed her ancestors? What more do we pass on--as individuals, as women, as immigrants far from home--besides our stories?
From StoryGraph.

StoryGraph | Goodreads


Bacchanal by Veronica HenryBacchanal by Veronica Henry (25th May 2021)

Evil lives in a traveling carnival roaming the Depression-era South. But the carnival's newest act, a peculiar young woman with latent magical powers, may hold the key to defeating it. Her time has come.

Abandoned by her family, alone on the wrong side of the color line with little to call her own, Eliza Meeks is coming to terms with what she does have. It's a gift for communicating with animals. To some, she's a magical tender. To others, a she-devil. To a talent prospector, she's a crowd-drawing oddity. And the Bacchanal Carnival is Eliza's ticket out of the swamp trap of Baton Rouge.

Among fortune-tellers, carnies, barkers, and folks even stranger than herself, Eliza finds a new home. But the Bacchanal is no ordinary carnival. An ancient demon has a home there too. She hides behind an iridescent disguise. She feeds on innocent souls. And she's met her match in Eliza, who's only beginning to understand the purpose of her own burgeoning powers.

Only then can Eliza save her friends, find her family, and fight the sway of a primordial demon preying upon the human world. Rolling across a consuming dust bowl landscape, Eliza may have found her destiny.
From StoryGraph.

StoryGraph | Goodreads


The Wolf and the Woodsman by Ava ReidThe Wolf and the Woodsman by Ava Reid (8th June 2021)

In the vein of Naomi Novik’s New York Times bestseller Spinning Silver and Katherine Arden’s national bestseller The Bear and the Nightingale, this unforgettable debut— inspired by Hungarian history and Jewish mythology—follows a young pagan woman with hidden powers and a one-eyed captain of the Woodsmen as they form an unlikely alliance to thwart a tyrant.

In her forest-veiled pagan village, Évike is the only woman without power, making her an outcast clearly abandoned by the gods. The villagers blame her corrupted bloodline—her father was a Yehuli man, one of the much-loathed servants of the fanatical king. When soldiers arrive from the Holy Order of Woodsmen to claim a pagan girl for the king’s blood sacrifice, Évike is betrayed by her fellow villagers and surrendered.

But when monsters attack the Woodsmen and their captive en route, slaughtering everyone but Évike and the cold, one-eyed captain, they have no choice but to rely on each other. Except he’s no ordinary Woodsman—he’s the disgraced prince, Gáspár Bárány, whose father needs pagan magic to consolidate his power. Gáspár fears that his cruelly zealous brother plans to seize the throne and instigate a violent reign that would damn the pagans and the Yehuli alike. As the son of a reviled foreign queen, Gáspár understands what it’s like to be an outcast, and he and Évike make a tenuous pact to stop his brother.

As their mission takes them from the bitter northern tundra to the smog-choked capital, their mutual loathing slowly turns to affection, bound by a shared history of alienation and oppression. However, trust can easily turn to betrayal, and as Évike reconnects with her estranged father and discovers her own hidden magic, she and Gáspár need to decide whose side they’re on, and what they’re willing to give up for a nation that never cared for them at all.
From StoryGraph.

StoryGraph | Goodreads


Black Water Sister by Zen ChoBlack Water Sister by Zen Cho (21st June 2021)

As Jessamyn packs for Malaysia, it’s not a good time to start hearing a bossy voice in her head. Broke, jobless and just graduated, she’s abandoning America to return ‘home’. But she last saw Malaysia as a toddler – and is completely unprepared for its ghosts, gods and her eccentric family’s shenanigans.

Jess soon learns her ‘voice’ belongs to Ah Ma, her late grandmother. She worshipped the Black Water Sister, a local deity. And when a business magnate dared to offend her goddess, Ah Ma swore revenge. Now she’s decided Jess will help, whether she wants to or not.

As Ah Ma blackmails Jess into compliance, Jess fights to retain control. But her irrepressible relative isn’t going to let a little thing like death stop her, when she can simply borrow Jess’s body to make mischief. As Jess is drawn ever deeper into a world of peril and family secrets, getting a job becomes the least of her worries.
From StoryGraph.

StoryGraph | Goodreads

What an incredible list of books, huh?! I am so looking forward to every one of these! These are the ones I'm personally most looking forward to, but there are a few others you might be interested in. For retellings, there's Sing Me Forgotten by Jessica S. Olsen (9th March 2021), a The Phantom of the Opera retelling; Lost in the Never Woods by Aidan Thomas (23rd March 2021), a Peter Pan retelling; and The Women of Troy by Pat Barker (29th July 2021), a The Trojan War retelling, and for another story inspired by folklore, there's A Master of Djinn by P. Djèlí Clark () inspired by djinn folklore.

Are any of these on your TBR? Any you'll be adding? Or any I've not mentioned - whether a retelling or inspired by folklore - that I should be aware of? Let me know!

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