The best faerie tales (that aren’t for children)

Who am I?

Since I was a child, I’ve loved stories of people who live, unseen, among or close to us. I prefer the spelling “Faerie.” Fairies are pretty, butterfly-like creatures that fly around gardens. “Faeries” suggest, to my mind, the word “fear.” They can be both benevolent and malevolent, but are primarily other. In my novel, Beautiful, and the follow up that’s in progress, faeries feature as characters both in their own realm and ours. They can cause a lot of trouble for humans, but also be well-intentioned. These books feature faeries that play similarly ambiguous roles. 


I wrote...

Beautiful: A Tale of Beauties and Beasts

By Fran Laniado,

Book cover of Beautiful: A Tale of Beauties and Beasts

What is my book about?

Eimear is a Faerie. She finds herself in the World, a strange place, where she is the only magical being, and she begins to build a life for herself. But when she encounters Finn, supernaturally beautiful but thoughtless and selfish, she gets angry. In a fit of rage, she casts a spell on Finn. It’s a spell that she can’t undo, even when she discovers that she’s ruined Finn’s life.

In an isolated place, thrown together initially out of desperation and need, Eimear and Finn find a way to live together. That alliance eventually blossoms into more. But before they can have a future, Eimear must make a perilous journey that will force her to confront everything she ran away from when she left Faerie.

The books I picked & why

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The Stolen Child

By Keith Donohue,

Book cover of The Stolen Child

Why this book?

The publishers describe this as “a bedtime story for adults.” Like the best bedtime stories, this novel straddles the lines between comforting, unsettling, and thought-provoking. Inspired by the poem of the same name, by William Butler Yeats, it tells the story of a child, stolen at the age of seven by a group of wild, childlike creatures. He is turned into one of them, and In his place, they leave one of their own. The two changelings grow up in parallel and the setting alternates between small town America in the mid-20th century and a strange community of creatures who may soon be nothing more than a story. 

The Stolen Child

By Keith Donohue,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Stolen Child as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Seven-year-old Henry Day is kidnapped by fairy changelings living in the dark forest near his home - ageless beings whose secret community is threatened by encroaching modern life. They give Henry a new name, Aniday, and the gift of agelessness - now and forever, he will be seven years old.

The group has left another child in Henry's place. This changeling boy, who has morphed himself into Henry's duplicate, must adjust to a new way of life and hide his true identity from the Day family. But he can't hide his extraordinary talent for the piano, and his near-perfect performances…


Lud-In-The-Mist

By Hope Mirrlees,

Book cover of Lud-In-The-Mist

Why this book?

Full disclosure: I almost put this book down after reading the first two chapters, full of info dumps. I kept reading though, and I ended up being glad I did. The town of Lud sits near the edge of Fairyland, but the citizens want nothing to do with the fairies thankyouverymuch! They are rational, logical people, and anything from Fairyland, especially fairy fruit, is strictly prohibited. Of course that doesn’t stop an illegal trade in fairy fruit from developing... This novel doesn’t follow the pacing and structure that most readers are used to, but when you abandon expectations and accept it for what it is, it’s a wonderful blend of fantasy, courtroom drama, and political satire.  

Lud-In-The-Mist

By Hope Mirrlees,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Lud-In-The-Mist as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.


Thorn Jack: A Night and Nothing Novel

By Katherine Harbour,

Book cover of Thorn Jack: A Night and Nothing Novel

Why this book?

This book, the first in a trilogy, ticks off several of my favorite genres and tropes. It’s a retelling of the Scottish ballad of Tam Lin (which I love), it’s set in a small college town, and it deals with a strange otherworld community beneath the surface. Following her older sister’s suicide, Finn Sullivan and her father relocated to upstate New York. Here, Finn’s path crosses that of the powerful, mysterious Fata family, and gets herself pulled into a strange new world that’s as beautiful as it is threatening. 

Thorn Jack: A Night and Nothing Novel

By Katherine Harbour,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Thorn Jack as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Combining the sorcery of The Night Circus with the malefic suspense of A Secret History, Thorn Jack is a spectacular, modern retelling of the ancient Scottish ballad, Tam Lin-a beguiling fusion of love, fantasy, and myth that echoes the imaginative artistry of the works of Neil Gaiman, Cassandra Clare, and Melissa Marr. In the wake of her older sister's suicide, Finn Sullivan and her father move to a quaint town in upstate New York. Populated with socialites, hippies, and dramatic artists, every corner of this new place holds bright possibilities-and dark enigmas, including the devastatingly attractive Jack Fata, scion of…

Rosemary and Rue

By Seanan McGuire,

Book cover of Rosemary and Rue

Why this book?

October (Toby) Daye, is half human, half faerie. She’s done trying to earn the respect of her immortal relatives, and begins to make a nice, human life for herself. Until spell and a murder pull her back into the dangerous immortal tangle of shifting alliances and strange bedfellows. In spite of her supernatural origins, Toby isn’t a superhero. But when she gets sucked into the fantasy stuff there’s no “oh, no, this is impossible! How can this be real?” to wade through. She knows what the deal is and she dives, somewhat reluctantly, into it.

Rosemary and Rue

By Seanan McGuire,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Rosemary and Rue as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The first instalment of the highly praised Toby Daye series. The world of Faerie never disappeared; it merely went into hiding, continuing to exist parallel to our own. Secrecy is the key to Faerie's survival: but no secret can be kept forever, and when the fae and mortal worlds collide, changelings are born. Outsiders from birth, these children spend their lives fighting for the respect of their immortal relations. Or in the case of October 'Toby' Daye, rejecting the fae completely. Toby has retreated into a 'normal' life - spending her nights stocking shelves at a San Francisco grocery store…

Daughter of the Forest

By Juliet Marillier,

Book cover of Daughter of the Forest

Why this book?

Based on the Six Swans fairy tale and the legend of the Children of Lir, this series starter follows Sorcha, daughter of the Lord of Sevenwaters. When her father’s new wife turns her six brothers into swans, Sorcha is the only one who can save them. To do that she must complete an impossible task. She survives in the forest, with the help of the Fair Folk, but when she’s kidnapped and brought to a foreign land she’s torn between opposing forces: the desire to save her brother, protect herself, and be with the man she loves. The Otherworld in this series exists alongside the daily life of the inhabitants of Sevenwaters. The characters know it as a double-edged sword that may help or harm depending on the situation.

Daughter of the Forest

By Juliet Marillier,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked Daughter of the Forest as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Sorcha, the seventh child and only daughter of Lord Colum, faces the difficult task of having to save her family from its enemies, who have bewitched her father and six older brothers while forcing her to choose between the life she has always known and a special love.

5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in fairies, Celtic mythology, and changelings?

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