The best modern fairy tales to make you believe in magic again

Who am I?

My mum tells me I used to sit with a book of fairytales open on my lap, aged three, and ‘read’ them out loud. Of course, I wasn’t reading them because I couldn’t read yet; I had memorised them all, word for word. Later, having consumed all the traditional tales and still with a hunger for more, I began reading modern fairytales. They opened up a whole new world; a world of light and darkness where anything at all is possible and unusual characters and events cascade from the pages. And then I realised I could actually write my own…

I wrote...

The Blackwood Crusade

By Jo Danilo, Dr Melchior Williams,

Book cover of The Blackwood Crusade

What is my book about?

What if the folklore of old was based in truth? And what if just one girl was charged with the task of destroying it all?

Christina never wanted the job. She didn’t even know faeries existed, let alone how dangerous they can be. But a devastating encounter makes her change her mind and she is catapulted into a violent, supernatural world of faerie killing. It is only with the help of three ragtag friends that she can hope to come out of the battle alive. A crooked fairy-tale full of twists and turns and generously sprinkled with magic. 

The books I picked & why

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The Princess Bride: S. Morgenstern's Classic Tale of True Love and High Adventure

By William Goldman,

Book cover of The Princess Bride: S. Morgenstern's Classic Tale of True Love and High Adventure

Why this book?

“True love is the best thing in the world, except for cough drops.” If you’re a fairy-tale lover who hasn’t read The Princess Bride yet, you need to remedy this immediately. It pretends to be just ‘the good bits’ from a longer book by Morgenstern that doesn’t exist (I know because I spent a while looking for it!). With heaps of adventure, pirates, sword fighting, true love, and laugh-out-loud humour, it is endlessly entertaining and you won’t want it to end. It proves that there are infinite possibilities for fun within this wonderful genre.

The Eyes of the Dragon

By Stephen King,

Book cover of The Eyes of the Dragon

Why this book?

“Did they all live happily ever after? They did not. No one ever does, in spite of what the stories may say.” This is a book I have read over and over again, and I never tire of it. Unlike the horror books he is well known for, this one was written by Stephen King for his daughter, and it is rooted firmly in a fairy-tale world, featuring a brave prince, his not-so-brave brother, a hunted dragon, and a truly nasty magician. However, King has injected this tale with his own, unique flair for interesting characters and truly gut-churning scenarios, and the story is all the better for it. 


By Neil Gaiman,

Book cover of Stardust

Why this book?

“That doesn't happen," she explained. "Stars fall. They don't go back up again." "You could be the first," he told her.” Neil Gaiman is a master of unusual stories such as Coraline and The Graveyard Book, and I had trouble choosing just one of his books. Stardust is the most fairy-tale of them all though. This story follows a young man who sets out from his humdrum village and enters the world of Faerie to recover a rare fallen star, but there are other characters with shady motives who share the same goal. A rich, magical feast of a book with a truly satisfying ending.


By Cornelia Funke, Anthea Bell (translator),

Book cover of Inkheart

Why this book?

“Books have to be heavy because the whole world's inside them.” It’s not often I’ve come across a book that can be savoured quite as much as Inkheart. It’s a magical book about a magical book, dark, captivating, and full of great characters. And, though it’s part of a trilogy, Inkheart stands very well on its own two feet. If you’ve ever wanted to magic people out of stories, or enter their fictional world yourself (okay, so that’s everyone!), this book is especially for you.

The Goose Girl

By Shannon Hale,

Book cover of The Goose Girl

Why this book?

“Some people are born with the first word of a language resting on their tongue though it may take some time before they can taste it.” The Goose Girl shouldn’t really be here. It is one of the countless examples of traditional fairytales retold. But, as it happens, it’s my favourite of the old stories, and this is a refreshingly new version still firmly embedded in fairy-tale land. It begins with a princess who can speak the language of animals, and who wouldn’t want to be able to do that?

5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in fairy tales, Pirates, and wizards?

5,888 authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about fairy tales, Pirates, and wizards.

Fairy Tales Explore 184 books about fairy tales
Pirates Explore 54 books about Pirates
Wizards Explore 68 books about wizards

And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

We think you will like Into the Wild, The Lord of the Rings, and True Grit if you like this list.