As much as I love classic novels, I love good makeovers even more. (I mean, have you seen the Queer Eye reboot?) That's probably why I'm such a sucker for a well-done classic novel retelling. It's the story I know and love, but with a fresh twist that gives it a whole new look, voice, perspective, and feeling. When written with joy and consideration, retellings are among my favorite books.
It is just such glorious fun to see your favorite characters reimagined in entirely new ways — whether they're re-conceived as being a different gender, as being a modern day detective, or being a resident of outer space. And retellings can really stretch the scope of the original books by exploring different points of view and modern day issues. It's true that the literary canon has long been dominated by white, straight, cis men, but retellings allow people of color, women, queer people, and people with other marginalizations to star in these classic books, making the stories accessible and relatable to so many more people.
These eight brand new retellings are already out or will be soon, and you need to add every one of them to your TBR list:
'The Mere Wife' by Maria Dahvana Headley is a spin on 'Beowulf'
Written in 1000 AD, Beowulf tells the epic story of an epic battle between a hero and the monster terrorizing the citizens of Herot Hall. But in this book, Herot Hall is a modern-day subdivision, and the "hero" and "monsters" are a suburban housewife and a battle-hardened veteran.
'A Study in Honor' by Claire O'Dell is a spin on 'The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes' by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
This exciting Sherlock Holmes retelling takes place in the future, and recasts Sherlock and Watson as two black queer women. (Hell yeah.) When Dr. Janet Watson returns from the battlefields of the New Civil War, the mysterious and alluring Sara Holmes gives her a place to stay. When Watson discovers that soldiers are mysteriously dying, one-by-one, she and Sherlock dive into a dangerous investigation.
'Rust & Stardust' by T. Greenwood is a spin on 'Lolita' by Vladimir Nabokov
OK, technically Lolita was inspired by a real-life kidnapping that was fictionalized in this book. In Camden, New Jersey in 1948, 52-year-old Frank LaSalle convinces 11-year-old Sally Horner that he is an FBI Agent, and she must do everything he says. This is a chilling read that will change your perspective on the classic novel.
'Brightly Burning' by Alexa Donne is a spin on 'Jane Eyre' by Charlotte Brontë
I mean, is there anything cooler than Jane Eyre in space? Stella jumps at the chance to work as a governess aboard a private spaceship, the Rochester. The ship's captain, Hugo Fairfax, has a reputation for being a recluse, but she believes him to be kind. But everything takes a turn when Stella uncovers a conspiracy to assassinate Hugo.
'My Plain Jane' by Cynthia Hand, Jodi Meadows, and Brodi Ashton
The author trio that brought you My Lady Jane is back with a rollicking retelling of Jane Eyre... with ghosts.
'By the Book' by Julia Sonneborn is a spin on 'Persuasion' by Jane Austen
In this retelling of Jane Austen's Persuasion, an English professor who has been struggling to be granted tenure discovers that her ex-fiancé has just become the president of the college, making him her boss. As the school year continues, her long-buried feelings bubble to the surface and she starts to wonder if he's worth a second chance.
'Olivia Twist' by Lorie Langdon is a spin on 'Oliver Twist' by Charles Dickens
In this twist (get it?) on Oliver Twist, Olivia Brownlow has been raised as a boy among London's street gangs. But when she's taken in by her uncle, she stops fighting on the streets in order to become a proper lady. But even in her new station, Olivia can't forget the kids living in hunger. Meanwhile, Jack MacCarron is a thief posing as the nephew of a society matron in order to rob the upper-crust blind. When he crosses paths with Olivia, he can't quite figure out why she seems so familiar.
'A Blade So Black' by L.L. McKinney (Sept. 25, 2018) is a spin on 'Alice in Wonderland' by Lewis Carroll
I couldn't be more excited for this upcoming twist on Alice in Wonderland. In the dark dream world known as Wonderland, Alice is trained to battle monsters as she fights to keep the Nightmares at bay. In the real world, Alice is struggling to balance everything, from her overprotective mom to her struggling GPA. But when her mentor is poisoned, Alice has to go deeper into Wonderland than she ever has before, and use everything she's learned from both worlds to "keep from losing her head... literally."