When I was asked to partcipate in the #RomBkLove event on Twitter I was over the moon. :3 Last year I was in awe seeing all the amazing recommendations, the great topics and never did I imagine to be part of it.
Selecting a topic which was close to my heart was a bit difficult because as mostly as it is: you have so many to chose from!
But when I thought about it, one topic seemed to come up again and again: Retellings.
If you have followed me on Twitter or other social media (and know me for a while) you’ve seen that I adore “classics” (I use this term lightly here ;)) like Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice but also the utterly fascinating tales like Beauty and The Beast, Cinderella, Tangled, Little Red Riding Hood or Peter Pan. 🙂 Naturally as a (former) student of German language and literature those titles in their original form aren’t new to me, so it’s especially fascinating to see how they are changed into a new form. What parts are used for the retelling, how many of the original cast is included in the story or is it actually put in a modern setting?
I want to share with you some of my favorite retellings and to have a better overview I will divide them into smaller categories. I hope you enjoy it!
“It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single reader in possession of good entertainment, must be in want of a good retelling.”
– Jane Austen retellings –
I can’t say how close this part is to my heart! ❤ Jane Austen always had a certain kind of factination for me and retellings of her amazing works are something I have a close look at. Although the author “just” finished 6 full novels and wrote and drafted several unfinished pieces, there are many retellings on the market, though the focus lies clearly on Pride and Prejudice retellings. Because of my almost undying love for this title it’s only natural I start with one retelling, a series actually.
A Fair Prospect by Cass Grafton; Volume I – III:
Disappointed Hopes, Darcy’s Dilemma, Desperate Measures
This series was simply sublime and the most factinating fact was that author divided the series into three parts as an homage to the original, set it right after the declaration of Mr Darcy’s first proposal and continued from this. It was marvelous executed and you could totally see how well researched the original was. ❤ A most delightful read.
There’s a lot more to tell about this book but I just can say: grab it and read it because it catches the original’s tone so perfectly. ❤
Pride by Ibi Zoboi
Set in a modern setting, into NYC’s Brooklyn and with an Afro-Latina heroine this book really picked my interest. Topics like cultural identity, gentrification and class are discussed and challanged. Haitian and Dominican food and culture are playing a huge part in the book and the author’s own experiences are coloring the book.
Out, Proud & Prejudiced by Megan Reddaway
This retelling is also set into the modern times, we have the two men Bennet Rourke and Darius Lanniker, and like in the original they loath each other on sight. From the chosen names it’s pretty obvious that there are similarities to the original but due to the blurb the reader is following Bennet waiting in a restaurant which brings him to Darius’s table and on top an internship at Darius’s Pemberley estate is suggested. This twist from the original events is definitely intriguing.
CW: (emotional) abuse; (on page talk about) filming a minor; filming people w/o their consent/approval
Perfect Day by Sally Malcolm
Next to Pride and Prejudice, Persuasion by Jane Austen is one of my favorite work by her. So this modern retelling of this amazing book was devoured and utterly loved. ❤ This queer piece has all the sensitive elements from the original, gives the most romantic declaration of love its own touch but still keeps it true to the original. The original’s conflict is here executed as having heroes coming from two different social classes; Finn is an ambitious young actor and a former mechanic while Joshua is the prodigal son of one of New Milton’s elite. Both couldn’t be more different. Sally Malcolm definitely added a healthy dose of angst to the story and it worked!
Undue Influence by Jenn Holiday
Readers were blessed with two Persuasion retellings 2018 and I can totally say I was over the moon. ❤ This retelling tackles the topic differently than Sally Malcolm’s work; I have to mention the amusing start of this book with a certain quote from another Austen book, which is that famous, you don’t have to read the original for it and I couldn’t help but cackle a bit because it was a nice homage to Austen in general.
This book has a large dose of humor and snark, but is very emotional too. Advertised as it “can be enjoyed by Austen-philes and by those allergic to the nineteenth century” I have to agree to it.
The California Dashwoods by Lisa Henry
The year 2018 definitely was the year of the most queer retellings of Jane Austen’s works. Lisa Henry took her contribution to the mix with her adaption of Sense and Sensibility, one of Austen’s most famous works but which I haven’t seen as much adapted or retold (but I might be mistaken – I am open to hear suggestions from you too) ;).
Having a gender switch to have a M/M, queer retelling we follow Elliot Dashwood’s tragic change of his and his sisters’ and mother’s living situation. Very much it is s close to the original, including the heartbreak in leaving the love behind. Over the whole book we have a pretty slow-burn, simmering attraction. Partly the book is spiked with a few explicit scenes, sometimes hot, sometimes sweet and adorable, but most at all it’s a slow burn. I was especially hooked by Elliot, who’s similar to his “alter ego” Elinor in the original: he’s the caretaker of the family, the one who’s rational, rather than romantic or illusional (and therefore the total opposite of his sister Marianne). He has a calm attitude and is not impulsive, at least not on the surface. 😉 A book I dearly enjoyed!
If I Loved You Less by Tamsen Parker
If there is any other work by Jane Austen that works better for a F/F, lesbian retelling, it’s actually no other than Emma. This book is also set in the modern times, the heroine Theo is having a surf-shop in Hanalei Bay and can, as much as her alter-ego Emma,not sit still and try to matchmake everyone who’s willing – or in some cases not so! True to the original this “Emma” has to accept her failures in her matchmaking and is shown her own mistakes by people who care about her, where she learns some valuable lessons – and finds her love on the way!
“One upon a time in…”
– fairy tale / Brother Grimm retellings –
As a second larger part of this post I focus on some of the most famous fairy tale / Brother Grimm retellings. As said in the preface before I am well-aware of the originals but whenever I read a new retelling I am astonished how many variations there are outside! See a few selected ones. :3
Fiendish. A Twisted Fairytale by Meka James
It might be odd I start with a dark retelling of Beauty and The Beast, which actually don’t have a HEA at all! But, before people now are outraged and yell at me, I have good news: there is a sequel to it (which can be read as standalone, confirmed by the author) with a true HEA!
I added this to my list because since it’s a BatB retelling I am utterly factinated in the topic and how the overall lovely story can be have a horrible end – to have a different twits in the original. Also in connection to the sequel we can see how a former horrible event can lead into a personal HEA where we follow the heroine’s path while she is healing (physcially and emotionally).
CW: contains sexually explicit dubious, non-consent scenes, graphic violence, abuse, harm, graphic descrption of torture (including pulling teeth, starvation, cutting through skin), obsession
More Than Enough by Elisabeth Wambheim
A certainly lighter and very cute retelling of Beauty and The Beast is this title. With its lush description of the gardening topic, the passion behind and for the fauna and all the nature around it sounds like a delightful story. With the ace represantation the book is like a fresh wind to the darker retellings of this original work and I can’t wait to read this.
Briarley by Aster Glenn Gray
This is advertised as a “m/m World War II-era retelling of Beauty and the Beast” where the beast takes the form of a dragon! I admit the blurb sounds amazing.
One title I have seen on my Twitter timeline several times and which gives the original setting of BatB a new setting is this book. A F/F, adult fantasy retelling of Beauty and the Beast with an all-Vietnamese cast sound very amazing and please, have a look at the cover! Isn’t is utterly facinating?
Ash by Melinda Lo
A lesbian adaption of Cinderella with strong heroines definitely are my jam! The blurb gives the indication this isn’t a light read and deals with the topics of death, grief but also made promises and blossoming feelings and friendships.
A Snow White retelling which is described as a “feminist fantasy reimagining”; this book, as someone asked, comes without the seven dwarfs yet has the displays of magic, complex mother-daughter relationships, as well as powerful women triumphing in a world where they have to fight hard for being powerful. Doesn’t it sound marvelous?!
The Ice Princess’s Fair Illusion by Lynn E. O’Connacht
This title is a retelling of King Thrushbeard following an asexual lesbian princess and an aroace queen. That’s a hell of a ace represantation!
This asexual retelling of The Little Mermaid stands out for being #ownvoices and written in verse (in a free verse style).
Walking on Water by Matthew Metzger
Another retelling of The Little Mermaid this story is the romance story between an asexual trans man and an agender person.
“All you need is faith, trust and a little bit of pixie dust.”
– (children) book retellings –
Peter Darling by Austin Chant
This Peter Pan retelling was one of the best books I’ve read and I couldn’t stop reading it! I was so hooked (pun intended :D) with this story and I can say magic was happening here, it was real and honest in its writing, sometimes it was very dark and cruel, very unexpected tbh.
But, oh so bittersweet… especially when Hook and Peter then finally met and did not fight.
I really LOVED that Peter Pan and Captain Hook went from enemies to lovers. :3 They had a great chemistry and the reason for Peter why he has Hook as villain are logical.
With a great transgender representation and the struggles of our hero Peter coming with it it’s a truely magnificent story.
Thrall by Avon Gale & Roan Parrish
Oh, this modern adaption of Bram Stroker’s Dracula with not just a M/M couple but an established lesbian one was adorable to read. The way it was fleshed out, as a epistolary format (displayed in text messages & chat logs) was a nice twist of the original and was intriguing to read.
The Henchman of Zenda by KJ Charles
It’s definitely not a secret I love KJ Charles’ writing and the way she used the topic of Prisoner of Zenda, a story which was totally unknown for me let me read the story afterwards (on Wikipedia) to have a better overview.
The Henchmen of Zenda is a marvelous story full of snarky swordsmen, sarcasm and tension. The sexual tension is right there from the start between Jasper and Rupert, and their dueling with the foils is a scene you are thinking about long after you’ve set down the book.
The characters are set in the historic time and setting – in a fictional country somewhere in Europe – and there is no dull moment, nothing you would consider as boring or dusty. In fact because of the snarky comments and the enormous sarcasm, the underlinging humor the characters have their own charme. As icing on top we have this marvelous cover which captures one of the scenes from the book perfectly and I always expect to see the characters moving while watching the cover!
Thank you so much for reading! I hope you enjoyed my post. ❤
At the end I have a few (following) questions for you (if you like) 🙂
- Which retellings do you love?
- What titles are you still missing?
- What is the most important thing for you to have a perfect retelling? Do you care that it is close to the original or do you like changes?
Tell me in the comments below and follow the discussion on Twitter and/or Instagram. Don’t forget to use the hashtag #RomBkLove when you join the talk! ❤