Retellings are a recent interest of me. It’s something that intrigues me because I find it polarising. If done well, a retelling can bring a totally different point of view on the source material. But if done wrong, there’s the chance a reader will get bored because the source material already gives away the meaning. Well, to get to business, here’s my top 10 retellings I want to read. And it’s a frustrating mix between books that are released and give-me-that-release-right-now-or-I-will-perish-from-curiosity books.
A retelling has something special. It separates itself from other fiction stories because I think it’s more challenging. You take an already well-known story and shape it into something else. And I think the difficulty lies into writing this story in a way so the reader won’t get bored of it. Because let’s be honest, how many times do we need to read or see a story?
Apparently a lot because I want to read these retellings.
Circe by Madeline Miller is a retelling of… yeah, Circe. Circe, in Greek mythology, is known as the daughter of Helios, god of the Sun. She was known for her knowledge of potions and how she would transform enemies into animals. Madeline Miller chose to take the myth of Circe and use her as a main character in a fantasy novel. In her book, Circe is banished to an island after Zeus feels threatened by her witchcraft powers. In the book, Circe meets all kinds of mythological figures and must find her place in the world as a woman.
I’m very intrigued to read this story. I love reading stories that take inspiration from gods and mythologies but I’m also curious if this book will offer feminist critique. It’s very high on my tbr and I’m hoping to read it in june!
Spin the Dawn
Spin the Dawn by Elizabeth Lim is said to be a retelling of Mulan. In the original legend, Hua Mulan disguised as a man to take her old father’s place in the army. In her book, Elizabeth Lim describes a girl, Maia, who dreams of becoming the best tailor in the land. But she’s a girl and she is only allowed to marry well. Instead of disguising as a soldier, Maia disguises as a male tailor, replacing her sick father at the court. Maia soon finds herself in a competition between eleven other tailors, who want to fight for the job. The book is said to feature backstabbing and conniving which complicates Maia’s dream.
This is also high on my tbr. I already wanted to read it for the cover (yes, we’ve established I’m that sort) but when I read the summary I was very surprised. I didn’t expect a story like this, based on the cover, and it sounds really creative as a fantasy. On top of that, the story might also feature romance with a magician, and I’m a sucker for magic romance. There’s a sequel coming out in July so I have to step on this…
This book by Christina Henry is a retelling of Peter Pan. And instead of writing new characters and basing their development on the story, the author takes it a step further in difficulty. She keeps the characters of Peter Pan but adds the intrigue that not all is what it seems. She writes: “There is one version of my story that everyone knows. And then there is the truth.” The book is told from Jamie’s perspective, who would later be known as Captain Hook. And oh boy, does this story pull me in.
Lost Boy is said to be the true story of Captain Hook and reading the summary and peeking at a few reviews, there’s a promise in the air of dark fantasy. And you might not know unless you know me from Instagram, but I’m a hoe for dark fantasy. I’m also, again, really curious for this book (which I should stop saying because this is my top 10 I want to read so it’s obvious but still… I want to read it, okay!!!)
I’m gonna be honest (I always am to be fair), I didn’t have any interest in reading yet another Alice in Wonderland retelling. Don’t get me wrong, I really love retellings but I think there’s so much other source materials that have more promise. But one of my best bookish buddies read Heartless and loved it and now I’m intrigued again because our tastes are 50% similar so it’s a win or lose here.
The story retells the past of the Queen of Hearts, Cath, when she was a young girl. Cath gets involved into a secret relationship and a dream of opening a bakery. But her parents stop her in her passions because she is next to be queen. Cath is determined to choose her own future but living in a land full of magic and monsters, fate has other plans. See… I never read the summary of this book until my friend told me she loved it. It’s my mistake really, I tend to be very subjective when it comes to first impressions on books. And being a retelling of Alice, I never really delved into the summary. But now that I have… Oh boy, I want it. Give me some doomed romance, yes please and thank you.
Cinderella is Dead
I know, that’s quite the title. This book by Kalynn Bayron is set to release in July 2020 and it’s a retelling from Mulan again! No I’m just kidding, it’s obviously Cinderella (ha ha I’m funny). In this story, Kalynn takes a dark turn. It’s 200 years after the story of Cinderella finding her prince. Teen girls are forced to an Annual Ball where men select them as wives. But another catch… If a girl is not chosen, she’s never heard from again. The story focuses on Sophia, who decides to flee and hide in Cinderella’s mausoleum. There she meets Constance, Cinderella’s step sister. Together they vow to bring down the kingdom. But along the way, Sophia learns more about Cinderella’s story.
C’mon. Look me dead in the eye and tell me that at least didn’t spark some curiosity, I dare you! Well, that was aggressive… What I’m trying to say is that I’m really excited to read this book. Do I have a preorder, you ask? You can be damn sure of that.
Seven Deadly Shadows
Another 2020 release but it’s already out. This book by Courtney Alameda and Valynne E. Maetani (that’s right, a duo of authors, which makes it even more intriguing) is a retelling of Seven Samurai. The original source tells a story of farmers who hire seven rōnin (master samurai) to defeat bandits who steal their crops. This book takes that story and transforms it into a YA fantasy full of paranormal myths. The story is about Kira who’s being bullied at school. But she also has a secret: she can see yokai (ghosts and demons). Finding out about the demon king who will rise at the next blood moon to bring the world to an end, Kira hires seven death gods to help her defeat the demon king.
So uh… yes? That’s all I can say. I have great hopes for this because let me tell you. I’m extremely intrigued about a retelling of this calibre. Japanese culture is something that really pulls my attention because of their rich myths and beliefs. I also watched a few adaptations of Seven Samurai and loved the premise of them. I’m hoping this book will feature a found family, with Kira and her unlikely band of heroes. Please give me that *please please please*.
Where Dreams Descend
Honey, sit down because you’re in for a ride. Janella Angeles is said to have written a retelling of not only Moulin Rouge, but also of Phantom of the Opera. Excuse me for a minute while I squeal in delight.
Okay, I’m good. Where were we? Ah yes, Moulin Rouge and Phantom of the Opera. Both are stories full of love, pain and theatrics. And this book’s summary promises that as well. A group of magicians have to face off in a game to become the headliner of Conquering Circus. But each act becomes more risky and some of the magicians go missing. Three of them are forced to work together and reckon with their secrets before darkness takes them as well.
Jesus. I want this. It’s just so dramatic.
The Guinevere Deception
I know, I’m late to the party. This is a book from 2019 and I’ve seen it all over my Instagram feed. And I think I need it? This series (I think a trilogy) is a retelling of the Arthurian legend. The story takes the relationship of Arthur and Guinevere and transforms it into a dark fantasy. And boy hooo, does that sound dangerous and promising.
The great Wizard Merlin thought up a solution for the rising danger toward King Arthur, from people who want to see him fail. Guinevere is to wed the king and protect him but there’s a catch. Guinevere’s real name and true identity remains a secret. Because here it is, my dear readers: Guinevere is a changeling. To keep her King safe she has to manoeuvre between people of the old and new cultures. Honestly, this is just a really difficult summary to give because it’s chaotic as shit. There’s dark magic, forbidden romances, threats from “evil”. Yeah, I just want to read this and delve myself into the adventures of a badass princess. Also, uhm… the cover is nice.
The Princess Will Save You
Hold my poodle because I’m about to get excited for another feminist story. Ooooh lord, Sarah Henning promises so much with this book. This story is basically a reimagining of The Princess Bride but this time, Buttercup is the hero. So basically, the story is about Princess Amarande that’s given an ultimatum when her father dies. Marry the leader of the other kingdom or lose the crown and her life. To force her to choose, her beloved stable boy Luca is kidnapped.
But Amarande is a warrior and she’s vowed to rescue her kingdom and save her true love. Yeah, count-me-in. Basically, this author has the guts to take a damsel-in-distress and turn her into the hero. Sarah Henning might just be my hero to be honest. And the frustrating thing is that this book is set to release in July. Big ugh. Why is time so slow?
The Deathless Girls
To end this list, I’d like to add a dark, gothic fantasy. This book from Kiran Millwood Hargrave is the untold story of the Brides of Dracula. The story focuses on twin sisters, Lil and Kizzy, who are enslaved by the cruel Boyar. They’re forced to work in an unwelcoming castle household when Lil is confronted with Mira, a fellow slave. Lil soon learns about the Dragon, a mysterious figure that takes girls as gifts. In this book, the girls are described to discover their fate.
Well… Uhm, count me in again. I’ve always wondered about the story of Dracula’s Brides and this seems like a very dark turn to it. Which I’m in for. And yes, again, the cover. Oops.
So there you have it, my top 10 retellings I want to read. These are the highest on my list and I think at least three of these will make it in my june TBR. And the new releases, well… Consider them preordered.
Do you like retellings? Which ones are your favorite? And what do you look forward to reading? Thanks for reading my blog!