Blog | Queer fantasy and fairy tale retellings for your second childhood

I love a good retelling. It’s always really interesting to return to familiar stories, many of them from my childhood, but from a different and fresh perspective. Unfortunately a lot (if not most or all of) the stories we learn as children don’t include queer and trans people, unless they’re coded as the villains. While I do love a sexy villain, it’s really important and gratifying to read stories that are pivotal parts of cultural mythology where we can be the heros who find love, adventure or both. So here’s a list of queer and trans retellings of a number of different stories.

Ash by Malinda Lo

Ash will always hold a place near and dear to my heart as it’s the one of the first books I remember reading about a queer girl that I could relate to. A dark retelling of Cinderella with fae magic, Ash is a tale of loss, family, and love. Like the traditional story, Ash is left at the mercy of her stepmother and stepsisters after her father passes away. However, the dark magics of the fae call her, just like they did her mother. And one day after meeting the king’s huntress, Ash falls in love. However, the fairy Sidhean has already claimed Ash, and she’s forced to make a decision between dreams and love. This is marketed as a lesbian retelling of Cinderella, but I’ve always read Ash as bisexual. Either view works in my opinion and if you fall in love with Ash there’s thankfully a sequel/prequel/companion novel, Huntress.

Peter Darling by Austin Chant

I’ve seen a number of book reviewers and authors screaming about how good Peter Darling is on twitter and boy are they right. A dark and magical tale of Peter’s return to Neverland 10 years later as an adult man, Peter Darling is a fantastic read. Chant does a really good job of capturing the uncertainty of growing up and the terror of the world changing all around you. Even though Peter has returned to Neverland and can finally be the man he’s always been, things have changed and nothing is the same as it once was. Peter Pan as a trans narrative makes perfect sense, building on the themes of boyhood, childhood, growing up, transformation, and a place where there are no adults to try and shape you. Add a passionate rivalry and romance with the sexy and dramatic Captain Hook, and you’re in for a hell of a read. I’m a sucker for good romance and sexy villains and Chant delivers on both accounts.

Lost Boi by Sassafras Lowrey

Lost Boi is another adaptation of Peter Pan. It’s an incredibly interesting and erotic adaptation that draws inspiration from the original story to tell a uniquely queer story. This book is queer as fuck and doesn’t apologize for it. Often books with queer characters are still written for mainstream (straight) audiences. Lost Boi is an unapologetically queer story about homeless queer youth, sex work, the foster care system, kink and BDSM. Lowrey has done an incredible job at crafting this story in relation to the original text. Lost Boi isn’t technically speculative fiction, just falls somewhere in the gray spaces as the reader and the characters are never quite sure what is truth or metaphor.

The Dark Wife by Sarah Diemer

I stumbled across The Dark Wife online years ago in high school and tried to imprint the cover into the corners of my brain so I’d be able to find it later when I’d be in a position to get a hold of it. I finally managed to snag a copy last year and man was it worth it. A lesbian retelling of Persephone and Hades? Sign me right up. It’s an interesting adaptation of the original myth where Hades is now a woman and the romance is very sweet. There’s not a whole lot of action but the depiction of the underworld and the characters really shine. Plus Cerberus is featured and who can say no to a sweet, giant three-headed puppy.

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