Read Harder

Read Harder Task #21: Queer Retellings

It’s time for another Read Harder task! This time, we’re talking about queer retellings of almost any kind—classics of the canon, fairy tales, myths and legends, we could go on. Retellings, in this list, count as anything that either uses a previous work as a jumping off point, or that uses the original source material to tell a brand new version of the same story. 

I love retellings. Give me a Jane Austen story set in the Caribbean, or Pygmalion set in a fantasy world with Chinese influences. Tell me the same love story I’ve heard before, but with a twist, or give a classical hero the depth he deserves. Pastiche is something I live for and dwell in—to the point where I spent more than half of my life reading more fanfiction than actual books, some years. And queer retellings? *chef’s kiss* They are the best of the best. This list is a good place to start in order to complete this task, but there are…a not insignificant amount of others you might want to dive into. (Some years ago it would have been like pulling teeth, but now, they’re starting to appear a little more frequently.)

Make sure to get your own Read Harder Book Journal from Book Riot to track your reading for the year!

Cover of Legendborn by Tracy Deonn

Legendborn by Tracy Deonn

Retelling of: The Legend of King Arthur

After her mother’s death, Bree enrolls in a pre-college residential program at UNC to get away from the memories and the pain. Witnessing a strange magical event her first night there leads her down a path towards a secret society claiming to be the descendents of King Arthur’s knights, and a young mage who calls himself Merlin. And apparently, there’s a war coming. Great.

cover of Verona Comics by Jennifer Dugan

Verona Comics by Jennifer Dugan

Retelling of: Romeo and Juliet

When Jubilee and Ridley meet at a comic convention prom, their connection is instant. But Jubilee’s family business is an indie comic shop and Ridley’s family owns one of the biggest comics chain in the country. With their parents in an ongoing feud, the two can’t help but keep their relationship a secret.

cover of Dithered Hearts by Chace Verity

Dithered Hearts by Chace Verity

Retelling of: Cinderella

Cyn is a farmer who would do anything to gain ownership of her farm back from her step parents—or to at least get away from them. When a chance to attend the Prince’s ball presents itself in the form of a literal fairy godfather, Cyn uses the opportunity to get a plan rolling…but it’s not the one anyone would have expected.

A Blade So Black cover image

A Blade So Black by LL McKinney

Retelling of: Alice in Wonderland

Atlanta teen Alice is a warrior. Having trained to fight the Nightmares in the magical realm of Wonderland, she is one of the few barriers to keeping the regular world safe. When her mentor is poisoned, she has to travel farther into Wonderland than she’s ever been in order to save his life…but she also has to keep herself alive.

cover of briarley by aster glenn gray

Briarley by Aster Glenn Gray

Retelling of: Beauty and The Beast

When a country parson finds himself trapped on a large estate by a grumpy dragon-man type being, he’s not sure what he might find easier: getting out, or helping the dragon-man to free himself from his curse.

Peter Darling updated cover

Peter Darling by Austin Chant

Retelling of: Peter Pan

When Peter comes back to Neverland after a decade away, his old home has moved on without him. Sure, Captain Hook has missed his old rival, but the Lost Boys don’t seem to need him. When war breaks out between the two bloodthirsty Neverland groups, the relationship between the two changes into something completely different.

cover of Ash by Malinda Lo

Ash by Malinda Lo

Retelling of: Cinderella

Ash, left at the mercy of her stepmother after her father’s death, has little joy or comfort in the world. She meets a dark fairy, Sidhean, who could offer her everything her heart desires. But what of Kaisa, the King’s Huntress, who she learns from and comes to love, first as a friend and then maybe something else?

cover of thrall by roan parrish and avon gale

Thrall by Roan Parrish and Avon Gale

Retelling of: Bram Stoker’s Dracula

When Lucy’s brother Harker goes missing, she and her partner—in life and in true crime podcasting—go on a mission to find him. With the help of their social media assistant and Harker’s professor, they go deeper and deeper into the app Harker was investigating, Thrall. And Arthur and Professor Van Helsing go deeper into something different.

cover of Drag Me Up by RM Virtues

Drag Me Up by R. M. Virtues

Retelling of: Greek Mythology

Hades is one of the most feared people in Khaos Falls, almost to the point of being a myth. The only thing that could possibly bring him down is the vision he sees hanging from silk at a Cirque performance, who he can’t resist, and who should be with anyone except him.

cover of Nottingham by Anna Burke

Nottingham: The True Story of Robyn Hood by Anna Burke

Retelling of: Robin Hood

On the run after a hunting accident, Robyn seeks shelter in the Sherwood Forest. But when the Sheriff of Nottingham levies a tax on the good people of the area, she takes matters into her own hands…with the help of some great women and the Sheriff’s delightful daughter, Marian. 

cover of Cinderella is Dead by Kalynn Bayron

Cinderella Is Dead by Kalynn Bayron

Retelling of: Cinderella

Two hundred years after Cinderella married her prince, local girls are expected to attend the Annual Ball to be selected as wives. But Sophia would rather marry her best friend, Erin. When a chance encounter with Cinderella’s final descendent leaves her on the path to smashing the patriarchy, anything can happen. 

cover of The Princess Deception by Nell Stark

The Princess Deception by Nell Stark

Retelling of: Twelfth Night by Shakespeare 

When her twin brother Sebsatian, Crown Prince of Belgium, overdoses right before the royals are getting ready to bid for the FIFA World Cup, Viola decides the best way forward is to impersonate him (for some reason). Missy Duke, a reporter covering the Belgium bid, realizes very quickly that Sebastian is actually Viola, but goes along with it. Also, what are those sparks?

Blanca and Roja by Anna-Marie McLemore

Blanca & Roja by Anna-Marie McLemore

Retelling of: Snow-White, Rose-Red, and Swan Lake

In this retelling of the story of Snow White and Rose Red, McLemore weaves a haunting tale of two sisters who are also rivals. Thanks to a curse, sometime in their future, one will remain human while the other is turned into a swan. When the curse draws two local boys into the fray, who knows what will happen.

Don’t forget you can get three free audiobooks at with a free trial!

Looking for more queer retellings? Find more here, here, and here. And if you’re curious what I’ve been reading, you can check out my page on Book Riot proper, listen to the When In Romance podcast, or catch me on twitter (@jessisreading) or instagram (@jess_is_reading).

Happy reading!


Click here for the full Read Harder 2022 task list, and for previous recommendations, click here.