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Out With The Old, In With The New: 5 Books That Are Retells Of Classic Stories

Almost everybody is familiar with stories like Cinderella, Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet or The Little Mermaid. Classics are classics for a reason: they tend to be universal, still current even if centuries have gone by.

Nonetheless, it is always refreshing when someone takes those stories and creates a twist in them. That’s what retells are all about: taking a classic book, fairy tale or myth and reimagining it as a new version, sometimes with a modern outtake or even a different ending or perspective.

If you got curious about books that fill in this category, here are some amazing novels to check out:

The Song Of Achilles, by Madeline Miller

In case you haven’t heard of this book on TikTok, The Song Of Achilles is a retell of the Iliad, epic Greek poem by Homer. However, in Madeline Miller’s version of this story, famous hero Achilles and his faithful best friend Patroclus are actually lovers, something that many historians believe to be true. Through the latest perspective, the readers experience a new and even more devastating take of the Trojan War.

To Kill a Kingdom, by Alexandra Christo

To Kill a Kingdom is a standalone fantasy novel inspired by The Little Mermaid. Alexandra Christo gives it such a twist, though, that you don’t you even remember it’s based off the Disney’s tale. In this book, Lira is the princess of the siren kingdom and probably the most lethal of them: every year, she takes the heart – literally – of a different prince. But when she accidentally does something to provoke her mother’s anger, she is punished by being transformed into a human. In order to get what she needs, she has to team up with her greatest enemy: prince Elian, a siren hunter. Are you already picking those hate to love vibes?

Heartless, by Marissa Mayer

Marissa Mayer is already famous for The Lunar Chronicles, a series of books that are also retells of fairy tales. In the standalone novel Heartless, she reimagines the story of the Queen of Hearts, from the classic Alice in Wonderland. Only in this book, Catherine is the king’s favorite, but what she actually wants to become is a baker. Once she meets Jest, a court joker, and falls in love with him, they start a secret relationship to avoid the king’s and her parent’s anger.

These Violent Delights, by Chloe Gong

These Violent Delights is a new version of Shakespeare’s classic play Romeo and Juliet. But Chloe Gong’s novel is set in Shanghai in the year 1926 and has fantasy elements to it. In this book, Juliette and Roma, the protagonists, are the heirs of rival gangs that cause chaos in the city. But everything starts to change when members of the gangs begin to show weird behavior and people start to whisper about a monster from the Huangpu River.

Bridget Jones’s Diary, by Helen Fielding

I bet you didn’t know about this one, but Bridget Jones’s Diary is actually a reimagined version of Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen’s classic novel. Helen Fielding’s book was so popular that it became a movie that is already considered a 2000’s classic. Even though there are a few topics that did not age well, it’s still a fun and memorable romantic comedy.

👯‍♀️ Related: #3 Brazilian Classics That Changed Literature
Julia Queiroz

Casper Libero '23

Soon to be journalist. Passionate about writing, telling stories and getting to know the world.
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