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Booklist: Shakespeare-inspired YA Fiction

If you haven’t already heard 2016 is a big year for Shakespeare and his famous First Folio! His First Folio will be going on a tour across all 50 states for the rest of the year. Check out more about it here

Shakespeare's Folio courtesy of the Folger Library

If you’re like me, you read Shakespeare in school and even on your own, and fell in love with his plays.

“What more is there to love?” you might ask. Well there is more than one way to love reading Shakespeare! These authors have retold some of Shakespeare’s biggest stories and some have set him center stage in the tale they have to tell. These stories are great for the most well versed Shakespeare fan, and for those that are new to the Bard.

Still Star-Crossed by Melinda Taub

This is the story of what happens after Romeo & Juliet. Their families are still fighting and no one seems to know how to end their feud. Then the prince comes up with a plan. One member of each family must marry, ending the rivalry. When Romeo’s best friend, Benvolio, and Juliet’s cousin, Rosaline, are chosen they are quite skeptical. Can they save Verona and their families?

Confessions of a Triple Shot Betty by Jody Gehrman

A contemporary spin on Shakespeare’s tale, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, this story takes place over summer break. Geena thinks her break spent with her cousin and her best friend will be one for the ages, but unfortunately things do not go as planned. This tale is full of mistaken identities, romance, and crazy schemes, making it a fun, modern day equivalent to Shakespeare’s famous play.

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

Another contemporary story with parallels to Shakespeare’s work, this time being King Lear. Cady comes from a privileged family, the Sinclairs. They have their own island where they summer, but one year everything changes and Cady is trying to figure out what truly happened to her that previous summer. E. Lockhart writes a twisting tale that would make the Bard proud.

Loving Will Shakespeare by Carolyn Meyer

This is the fictionalized story of how Shakespeare met his real life wife, Anne Hathaway. Anne is a simple farmer’s daughter and is quickly becoming distressed about her marriage prospects. When the much younger Will Shakespeare kisses her, their lives change forever. Read how Shakespeare’s own love story was fit for a play!

The Fool’s Girl by Celia Rees

Part retelling, part period piece, The Fool’s Girl is quite an interesting novel! Taking themes and ideas from Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, this story is a grand adventure. Violetta, from a crumbling kingdom, finds her way to London on a mysterious quest. She is not sure where she is being led until she meets William Shakespeare, who just might have the answers that she is looking for…

Enter Three Witches by Caroline B. Cooney

This tale, from one of YA’s most popular authors, is a take on Macbeth that you have not seen before. Lady Mary, a ward of Lord and Lady Macbeth, tells the infamous story while being trapped inside their castle. Amidst violence and bloodshed, can Mary save not only herself, but everyone else?

Prince of Shadows by Rachel Caine

This retelling of Romeo & Juliet is from the perspective of Romeo’s cousin, Benvolio, the great thief of Verona. With the focus on supporting characters from the play as well as language and setting of the original, this will please fans of Shakespeare’s version.

Exit, Pursued by a Bear by E.K. Johnston

This recent release reimagines The Winter’s Tale in a contemporary setting with cheerleaders. Hermione is drugged and raped while at cheer camp, and with the help of her supportive best friend, parents, and law enforcement, works to uncover her rapist’s identity in this thought-provoking, character driven novel.

A Steep and Thorny Way by Cat Winters

Set in the 1920s, this Hamlet retelling centers around the daughter of an interracial couple whose father was murdered. With all the intrigue and even the ghosts of the original, this is an update fans should check out.

I hope these books have sparked your interest and have you wanting to pick up something related to the Bard! This theme would be perfect for a Shakespeare-themed book display to celebrate Shakespeare’s birthday and the anniversary of his death in April. Get more ideas from the Shakespeare section of this Epic Reads retelling flowchart. If you are looking for ideas for Shakespeare-themed programs, the YALSAblog has a great round up

Please let me know in the comments if there is a favorite of yours that I might have missed!

— Tegan Anclade, currently reading Bones & All by Camille DeAngelis

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Tegan Anclade

I am a Young Adult Associate at a public library. I love reading Young Adult fiction and creating book lists and bibliographies. Fantasy and historical fiction (or a combo of the two) tend to be my go-to genres! I enjoy crafting, coffee, tea, and playing with my pets (all 5 of them!).

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2 Comments

  1. King of Shadows by Susan Cooper

  2. Katherine Keller Katherine Keller

    If you want to add a graphic novel in, Kill Shakespeare is a witty and hilarious romp through at least a dozen of his plays.

    The plot? Hamlet and Juliet find out the name of the person who’s directly responsible for their misery — William Shakespeare — and they (and several others they meet along the way during their quest) decide it’s time for some, ahem, pointed justice.

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