The Age of the Retelling

Aliens. Vampires. Ghosts. Dystopians. These are some huge themes that pop culture has gone through in the past decade. From YA novels, to movies, to television shows there is always a theme that prevails for a period of time. Our current theme? Retellings.

The current line up of new movies are either remakes and reboots of originals or books and comics turned into movies, with Star Wars: The Force Awakens, The Revenant, and Deadpool leading the way. Current popular TV shows are either retellings or revivals of past shows, with the masses being particularly excited about Fuller House and X-Files.

Retellings abound in YA literature as well, not only in rewriting classics, such as Marta Acosta’s retelling of Jane Eyre entitled Dark Companion, but many retellings of fairy tales. What is it about retellings that catch our attention? Is it the themes that we know and love? Is it the comfort of the familiar, like we are coming home? I am sure the answer is different for everyone, but there is no doubt that retellings are taking the pop culture world by storm.

fairy tale retellings young adult literature

As with many themes, certain books quickly take the spotlight, while some others quietly gain attention. The same goes with retellings. Below are some books that all your friends may have been telling you about, books you haven’t heard of, and new books to keep an eye out for.


Cinder by Marissa Meyer (2015 Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults)

This is the start of a sci-fi series, The Lunar Chronicles, based on traditional fairy tales. Cinder, a retelling of Cinderella, is about a half cyborg girl that is mistreated by her family. She does meet a handsome prince and falls in “like”, but she is most certainly not a damsel in distress. She is smart, resourceful, and a leader. The series continues with Scarlet, a retelling of Little Red Riding Hood; Cress, a retelling of Rapunzel; Fairest: Levana’s Story, essentially a retelling of the backstory of the evil queen; and Winter, a retelling of Snow White. Marissa Meyer also recently published Stars Above, a short story anthology set in the world of The Lunar Chronicles, including a retelling of The Little Mermaid.

The Madman’s Daughter by Megan Shepherd

This book is the first in a trilogy of retellings of classic horror/sci-fi novels. The Madman’s Daughter is a retelling of The Island of Doctor Moreau. The main character, Juliet, is abandoned after her father is banished from London society and her mother passes away. She goes from living a life of privilege to being a maid for a university. Suddenly a figure from her past appears again and thus begins a journey she did not anticipate, including discovering a curiosity as mad as her father’s. The story continues with Her Dark Curiosity, a retelling of The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde; and A Cold Legacy, a retelling of Frankenstein.

The Great Hunt by Wendy Higgins

Keep an eye out for this new release, coming out on March 8th. The Great Hunt is a retelling of a lesser known Grimm Brothers’ story entitled The Singing Bone; it is also reminiscent of the European folktale of The Wild Hunt. In this novel Princess Aerity’s hand in marriage is the prize to the man that can kill the creature terrorizing the surrounding towns. Aerity does not want to be handed off as a prize, and Paxton, a huntsman, wants nothing to do with the royal family. When they meet they find that they, and the beast, are more than they bargained for.


A Wicked Thing by Rhiannon Thomas

In this story we find a retelling of Sleeping Beauty and what happens after her happy ending. Aurora’s “happy ending” is not like the storybook tells you. The man that wakes Aurora is not her prince, but a stranger. Her kingdom has been taken over and ruled not by her allies, but by her enemies. Can she navigate her way in a kingdom she doesn’t know, or should she find a way out? The story continues with the sequel, Kingdom of Ashes.

A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro

In this new YA novel, coming out tomorrow, March 1st, we get an exciting new reboot of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes. This story takes the great-great-grandson of John Watson and the great-great-granddaughter of Sherlock Holmes and puts them as classmates at a private school in modern day Connecticut. Their story takes on a life much like their great-great-grandfathers’. They must solve the murder of a fellow student, after they are both framed as the killers. While doing this they must also learn to work together without butting heads, as their great-great-grandfathers did before them.

Reign of Shadows by Sophie Jordan

In this retelling of Rapunzel, Sophie Jordan writes a new twist on an old classic. After her parents are murdered, Luna is hidden away in a tower, with everyone thinking that she is dead. After meeting an archer in the woods, she decides to escape, but does not realize what awaits her out in the real world. Together they must navigate a
treacherous journey, while still learning secrets the other has been unwilling to tell.

In this current age of retellings, I hope that these have caught your attention and made it onto your reading lists! Let me know in the comments if you’ve read them, what you thought, or if there are some other retellings that you would love to share!

— Tegan Anclade, currently reading Winter by Marissa Meyer

2 thoughts on “The Age of the Retelling”

    1. Thank you for sharing! I am very excited about The Forbidden Wish! I absolutely loved The Lunar Chronicles, I think my favorite out of the series was Winter!

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