The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein
As expected, this novel is a dark, twisted reimagining of Shelley’s Frankenstein. I loved the feminist angle to White’s vision, and her lyrical prose. I’ve been a fan of White’s work since Paranormalcy and couldn’t wait to get my hands on this retelling.
The Cake House
This novel, a modern take on Hamlet, is cloaked in mystery and family dysfunction, as one would expect. It’s lovely and dark and urban-set, which makes it an amazing read to devour on a dreary day.
Emma: A Modern Retelling
Alexander McCall Smith
Even though I’ve seen countless retellings of Emma (Clueless, anyone?), this one had enough nods to the original to keep my Austen-loving-heart happy, while the new additions kept me captivated. Mini Coopers instead of carriages. Cappuccinos instead of tea. I absolutely loved McCall Smith’s crafty take.
The Golden House
The Great Gatsby is arguably one of the most beautifully written books in the English language, so Rushdie had quite the challenge in living up to my expectations. However, setting this retelling against our current cultural and political climate enhanced the appeal for me. I especially love that Fitzgerald’s narrator, Carraway, who is “both within and without”, has been transformed into a filmmaker. The parallels were made with care, and they’re perfect.
Of course, this novel is reimagining Jane Eyre, and it’s one that shouldn’t be missed. Orphaned and abused, Jane transforms into a heroic killer, punishing those who’ve done her wrong. However, the past must come to light—sins and secrets can’t stay buried for long.
In Her Shadow
Rebecca by Daphne duMaurier is my favorite book of all time, and it’s first line—“Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again”—sweeps me away every time. From the Gothic undertones to the mystery of the death of the first Mrs. deWinter, Daphne duMaurier created a twisted story that I love to read again and again. While In Her Shadow, at its core, has a few nods to Rebecca—a dark psychological suspense about a naïve young woman stepping into the shoes of her murdered predecessor—the rest of the story is unique. The similarity between the two novels is subtle and, if one is not a duMaurier fan, might be overlooked completely. But that’s what I love about modern retellings.
Using the mold of classics we all adore, writers can break barriers of established storylines, breathe life into fresh, dynamic characters, and create innovative masterpieces that quickly become new favorites. Below, you’ll find a list of my favorite modern retellings of classic tales.
Featured image by Robert Driscoll