Once upon a time, in a faraway kingdom, the prince was ready to become the king. But first, he had to battle a dragon, rescue the damsel, bring her back to his castle and marry her. That was how it had always been and how it would always be.
No one ever knew where the damsel came from, and she never knew anything about herself.
Elena K. Arnold's latest book, Damsel, is a searing look at the way we treat women and girls in this world and in fairy tales. If that sounds good, here are some other books with similar themes.
Ash by Malinda Lo is a queer retelling of Cinderella in which Ash falls for the beautiful Huntress instead of the clueless prince. There are fairies and horses and adventures in it as well, making it one of my favorite books of all time.
Spindle by E.K. Johnston retells Sleeping Beauty with a decidedly more active heroine. The Little Rose's curse is more complicated in this version and she fights against it as hard as she can. Told from the perspective of Yashaa, a boy in her kingdom, and set in the Middle East, this title turns a well-known fairy tale on its head.
Born into a family of powerful brujas, Alex tries to rid herself of her power in Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Cordova. When the spell backfires, she accidentally sends her family to the underworld and must chase after them with the help of a boy she doesn't trust and a friend she's desperate to protect. A bit like Alice in Wonderland, if Alice were Latinx and much more awesome.