From Cinderella to Sleeping Beauty. You can’t beat a retelling. I’ve compiled 10 Sapphic retellings you should add to your TBR list ASAP.
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You can’t beat the charm of a fairytale retelling. Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, and Beauty & The Beast hold so much nostalgia for me. And I love reading a fresh update on a classic tale.
But how do you know which books are Sapphic retellings?
I think you’ll agree with me when I say that in recent years, we’ve seen some incredible Sapphic books.
But the problem is, finding Sapphic retellings is difficult. That’s why, I’ve compiled the absolute best wlw retellings.
From fantasy retellings with fae or contemporary romances, read on for the best Sapphic retellings.
For even more recommendations, I have a whole blog post dedicated to wlw books. I surveyed about 500 book lovers and compiled a list of the most recommended wlw books. Check it out here:
Read on for the best Sapphic retellings
1. Cinderella is dead by Kalynn Bayron
A Cinderella retelling with a sapphic romance. A twist on the classic story, it features BIPOC characters and a wlw romance.
The premise is that teen girls are now required to appear at an annual ball where men select wives. But Sophia wants to marry her childhood best friend Erin. And isn’t a fan of the whole parade in front of suitors thing.
She decides to flee and decided to take down the king once and for all.
The dystopian twist on the classic Cinderella story makes this book unique. The romance is a bit insta-lovey but still well developed.
The plot keeps you hooked throughout. Women overthrowing a dystopian patriarchy.
Kalynn Bayron writes enchanting cottagecore imagery. And the beautiful cottagecore and woodland imagery will make you want to live in a forest.
And the best part is, it’s a standalone. Finding standalone fantasy books is difficult. Let alone with lesbian representation. If you’re looking for Sapphic retellings then I recommend Cinderella is Dead.
If you’re a fan of ya fantasy retellings, I have tons of recommendations. Check out my article on ya fantasy retellings here.
2. Ash by Malinda Lo
Ash is a book I’m always torn about. But it was recommended a few times. And the enchanting cottage-core world building gives this Sapphic Cinderella retelling a unique touch.
Ash is a lesbian Cinderella retelling. It follows Ash who is dealing with the grief of losing her parents. She falls in love with the king’s huntress.
I loved the descriptions of the world such as the woods and the fae. And I instantly loved the King’s Huntress.
But, I wish that the romance had been a little better developed. The scenes they together were fantastic. But I was left wanting more.
However, I love that it focuses on Ash recovering from grief. Mental health is a strong theme throughout and the romance feels secondary.
This cosy read offers great escapism. And you can easily read this short retelling in one sitting.
3. Malice by Heather Walter
If you’re looking wlw fantasy books then you need to pick up this duology. You will love the dystopian world building, morally grey main character and grumpy/sunshine romance. Plus the duology includes some fantastic mythical creatures.
Malice is a Maleficent retelling. The book is set in a Kingdom called Briar.
Once upon a time, a wicked fairy cursed a line of princesses to die. Only true love’s kiss can break the curse.
The book follows Alyce – the dark grace.
She was left abandoned in Briar from a dark kingdom. The dark magic that runs in her veins abhors residents in Briar. Except for Princess Aurora.
Not only does Princess Aurora accept her. But she encourages Alyce to accept herself.
This book is almost a cross between Wicked and The Hunger Games. But with fae.
The world building is dark and magical. And the residents of Briar reminded me of the residents of the Capitol. I LOVED the depiction of the Imps and goblins in Misrule. Plus both books reference fae. A must-read for anyone after Sapphic retellings.
4. She Who Became The Sun by Shelley Parker-Chan
She Who Became The Sun is an epic historical fantasy. Pitched as Mulan meets Song of Achilles. But it’s also much more than that.
Set in a famine-stricken village in China in the year 1345. Two children are given two fates. A boy, greatness. A girl, nothingness…
For the starving peasants of the Central Plains, greatness is something found only in stories. When the Zhu family’s eighth-born son, Zhu Chongba, is given a fate of greatness, everyone is mystified as to how it will come to pass.
The fate of nothingness received by the family’s clever and capable second daughter, on the other hand, is only as expected.
But then a bandit attack orphans the children. And Zhu Chongba dies. Desperate to escape her own fated death, the girl uses her brother’s identity to enter a monastery as a young male novice.After her sanctuary is destroyed for supporting the rebellion against Mongol rule, Zhu uses takes the chance to claim another future altogether: her brother’s abandoned greatness.
If you’re after Sapphic historical fiction, check out my article on historical Sapphic books.
5. Written in the Stars by Alexandria Bellefleur
Searching for wlw books for adults? Written in the Stars is a great pick.
Why? Because Written in the Stars is an incredible, feel good wlw romance. A New Adult WLW book with the fake dating, enemies to lovers and grumpy/sunshine tropes.
It follows Elle and Darcy. Elle is a free-spirited social media astrologer. She agrees to a disastrous first date with uptight actuary Darcy. After the terrible blind date, Darcy is determined to stop her brother from setting her up again. So she lies and starts a fake relationship with Elle.
Written in the Stars is a queer of Pride and Prejudice set in urban Seattle. A compelling and heartwarming read.
You feel the chemistry though the pages.
The characters were well developed and well written. The fake-dating trope also allows for lots of character development.
The imagery of the city is incorporated throughout. And it makes you want to visit the city.
I’m OBSESSED with enemies to lovers book. I have tons of recommendations for fans of enemies to lovers books. Likewise, many enemies to lovers books feature LGBTQ+ characters. Check out my article on LGBTQ+ Enemies to Lovers Books here.
6. The Grimrose Girls by Laura Pohl
This is another seriously underrated book! You definitely need to read this. It features a diverse cast, plenty of fairy tale references and dark academia world-building.
The Grimrose Girls is a modern take on classic fairytales such as The Little Mermaid, Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty.
The heroines of the stories are re-imagined as friends attending an elite boarding school. After their friend dies, the police rule the death as suicide. But they decide to investigate to find out the truth.
Grimrose Girls is a unique concept and fantasy retelling. The mystery was gripping and well-paced. And the story keeps mentioning tantalizing details that keep you engaged.
The story also uses the darker versions of the fairy tales. And this added to the dark academia, mysterious tone of the book. Some reviews do mention the lack of world-building, but I preferred this because it kept the plot fast-paced.
If you’re after Sapphic retellings, then you should check out this unique take on classic fairytales.
I listened to Grimrose Girls as an audiobooks. As a huge audiobook fan, I have tons of recommendations for Sapphic audiobooks. Read my article on Sapphic audiobooks here
7. Girl, Serpent, Thorn by Melissa Bashardoust
Girl, Serpent, Thorn is a Sapphic retelling based on the Classic fairytale Sleeping Beauty. The writing is enchanting and it draws on Persian Mythology for inspiration.
It follows Soraya. A cursed princess poisonous to the touch. Soraya is only safe in her garden. Hidden away and apart from her family.
As the day of her twin brother’s wedding approaches, Soraya must decide if she’s willing to step outside of the shadows for the first time. Below in the dungeon is a demon who holds knowledge that she craves. The answer to her freedom. And above is a young man who isn’t afraid of her, whose eyes linger not with fear, but with an understanding of who she is beneath the poison.Soraya thought she knew her place in the world. But when her choices lead to consequences she never imagined, she begins to question who she is and who she is becoming.
Fan of Cinderella is Dead or This Poison Heart? Then you’ll love this! If you’re after Sapphic retellings or a unique ya fantasy, then you need to read this book.
8. Ruinsong by Julia Ember
Ruinsong is seriously underrated. I don’t see this recommended nearly enough online. A Sapphic retelling of Phantom of the Opera.
Ruinsong is an ya lesbian book set in a dystopian world. With lush world-building, a twisty plot and feisty main characters.
In this world, singers have magic powers when they sing certain songs. And they are able to heal, cause pain and heat people.
Cadence is a strong mage. She was born in poverty in an orphanage and rises to success. But she works for the evil Queen Elene. And Elene forces Cadence to use her power to torture others.
But when she is reunited with her childhood friend she must make a choice. Does she take a stand or follow the queen.
This book is like a queer, dystopian phantom of the opera.
The world building is enchanting. Full of strong willed women wearing beautiful ball gowns taking down evil. In this dark fantasy girls take down their enemies while wearing beautiful pink ballgowns.
The magic system is unique and well developed. Let me clarify, singing is used as a vehicle for magic. The intriguing magic system and well written characters hook you into this story.
You need to read this, whether you’re searching for Sapphic retellings or not. This retelling is unlike any book I’ve read.
9. The Dark Tide by Alicia Jasinska
The Dark Tide is a seriously underrated book. It features a wlw romance, witches and a curse on a town. It’s a retelling of a classic folk story – The Ballad of Tam Lin. You can read about the Ballad of Tam Lin here.
It follows Lina. She lives on a small island where the dark tide could cause it to sink. Every year the Witch Queen lures a boy back to her palace and sacrifices her on the full moon. And so keeps the island city from sinking.
Lina is convinced the Witch Queen will take her brother. She asks Thomas Lin to help. Thomas is the only person to survive the sacrifice. But they draw the Queen’s attention. And instead, Thomas is taken.
Lina offers herself instead of Thomas. But the queen is nothing like Eva expected. And they must choose between saving the island or themselves.
The premise of this book hooked me in straight away. A girl goes to save a guy but instead falls for the ‘villain’. If you’re looking for a book with an enemies to lovers romance with a morally grey love interest – then this is the book for you.
Lina and Eva’s romance is an angsty slow burn, with an amazing grumpy/sunshine dynamic. The cursed romance setup was well executed and made the book tragically romantic.
The worldbuilding is also dark, moody and atmospheric. A sea wild tale. The beautiful writing made me fall in love with the world. Full of bitter witches, sea, salt, blood and sacrific
From Sleeping Beauty to Mulan, these Sapphic retellings are all incredible. And I hope you add some of these to your tbr list!
You must be wondering, how you can afford to read all these fantastic books.
If you’re on a budget, I recommend checking out the Libby app. You can use this app to rent audiobooks and ebooks from your local library for free! Check out Libby here.
What are your favourite Sapphic retellings? I’d love to hear your recommendations!