Favorite Disney Princess Recommendations
Based on a post I saw by Barnes and Nobles, I decided I’d do book recommendations based on your favorite Disney Princess! The post by B&N only included, like, six princesses and there are so many awesome lead females so I included a lot of Disney female leads in the princess category (17 Disney ladies, total!) Also, warning, most of these are fantasy books because most of the Disney ladies come from fantasy and fairy tales.
Snow White: Snow White was the first Disney Princess and very “traditional” in design. I looked for interesting retellings that spiced up the original story, like Stitching Snow by R.C. Lewis which has a Sci-Fi twist (and an excellent cover) and Boy, Snow, Bird by Helen Oyeyemi which deals with race and family in the early 1950s.
Cinderella: Did you know that the Throne of Glass series by Sarah J Maas was originally inspired by Cinderella, despite the series going in a decidedly different direction? Well it was, and I love that a simple fairy tale inspired an intense high fantasy series. Cinderella is also the inspiration for The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer which is a sweeping and beautiful Science Fiction series that utilizes several fairy tale stories with kick-ass heroines and amazing plot lines that weave together for an epic saga.
Aurora: For the lovely Sleeping Beauty, I picked two books that have a focus on curses. First, Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine. But wait, you cry, that’s a Cinderella retelling! Yes, yes it is. But Ella is cursed with obedience while Aurora was cursed with endless sleep. Both books are about young women fighting against magic restraints but Ella is able to get up and do more about it! My second recommendation is The Sevenwaters series by Juliet Marillier. It focuses on different young women shaping their own fates through curses, fae interference, and finding love. It does have triggers though, so be wary!
Ariel: For Ariel, what could be better than mermaid stories? The Syrena Legacy by Anna Banks is a mix of mermaid lore and romance, much like The Little Mermaid, while The Waterfire Saga by Jennifer Donnelly has mermaid lore but a stronger focus on female friendship.
Belle: A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J Maas is another Maas novel inspired by a fairy tale and while ACoTaR is a bit steamier and definitely different, it has all the elements of a Beauty and the Beast story but goes further. A second pick is The Winner’s Trilogy by Marie Rutkoski. A female protagonist whose strength is wit, not combat, and is dealing with a star-crossed love that has a poor outlook will be very suitable for Belle fans.
Jasmine: The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh was inspired by 1001 Arabian Nights, the same series of stories where Aladdin originally appeared. It’s intoxicating love story and beautiful atmosphere is definitely on point. My other pick has to be Written in the Stars by Aisha Saeed, inspired by Jasmine’s cultural roots and the fact that Jasmine was almost forced into an arranged marriage herself.
Pocahontas: For nature, the gold rush, and adeventure, Walk On Earth a Stranger by Rae Carson is hailed as quite the novel. Another Native American female lead from another well known fairy tale is Tiger Lily, with her own novel, Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson. For more reading about life as a Native American in the world today, pick up The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie, a widely praised novel in a industry that very rarely lifts up novels about Native Americans.
Esmeralda: Esmeralda was a difficult lady to select books based on, but her Romani heritage and struggles are something many people should learn more about, so American Gypsy by Oksana Marafioti is a novel to look out for, written by a Romani woman about her teenage years in America. For more fiction and fantasy Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo has a character, Inej, from a nomadic tribe very similar to the Romani in how they are treated by others. Inej is just a kind-hearted and bad ass as Esmeralda herself!
Megara: Looking for a greek myth-inspired series with bad ass lady leads? Heroes of Olympus by Rick Riordan may seem the obvious choice and it is, but only because of the strong, sassy, and diverse female leads in the series are absolutely amazing, just like Meg herself! Another more romantic but still kick ass greek myth inspired series is Starcrossed by Josephine Angelini.
Mulan: Asian-inspired fantasy is one of my favorite sub-genres with Eon and Eona by Alison Goodman being very high up on the list for it’s great story, interesting magic, strong female lead, and its fantasy version of ancient China. Cindy Pon’s Silver Phoenix is also an engaging story with inspiration from Chinese myths and legends that really creates a wonderful atmosphere.
Jane Porter: Jane Porter is a proper young English woman, but that doesn’t stop her from pushing her boundaries and searching the jungle with her father. Jane would mightily approve of stories in which young British girls take adventure into their own hands, like in the Gemma Doyle trilogy by Libba Bray or The Dark Days Club by Alison Goodman.
Kida: Kida was called the “warrior queen” by the creators who developed her character, so for fans of Kida, stories that go above and beyond with kick-ass heroines, like in The Graceling Realm by Kirstin Cashore or His Fair Assassin by Robin LaFevers.
Rapunzel: While Seraphina’s isolation is self-imposed, Seraphina by Rachel Hartman tells the story of a young woman going outside her comfort zone and discovering herself, much in the same way Rapunzel does. For a retelling of Rapunzel’s story, try Bitter Greens by Kate Forsyth, which mixes history and romance with the well-known tale.
Merida: Okay, I have to say it: Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. It’s about a female archer who fights for her nation while being constantly irritated by the two boys trying to court her. It just works!! There’s also Shadowfell by Juliet Marillier, a young adult fantasy series with female protagonists and inspired by Scottish myths.
Anna: Anna is fun, hilarious, and a romantic at heart, which makes me recommend The Ruby Red trilogy by Kerstin Gier for your inner romantic. Also, for another fantasy with a focus on siblings, Age of Legends by Kelley Armstrong, a series about twin sisters who must fight together to quell restless souls.
Elsa: For Elsa, what could be more perfect than Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch? A book about winter magic, a girl who feels out of place and unsure of her role in her kingdom, and learning to accept yourself and fight for those you care about. Spot on! Also keep a look out for Stealing Snow by Danielle Paige (out in September!), a retelling of The Snow Queen in which the character is much more than she was in the original story.