Books based on Classics that are surprisingly good…

  • Pride & Prejudice & Zombies by Seth Grahame-Smith

When it comes to Jane Austin’s Classic, adding zombies to it you would think ‘oh my, what have they done to it?’ But surprisingly, I couldn’t help but love this new spin. Seth Grahame-Smith doesn’t just take the idea of the character’s Austin created, but in fact uses the story itself that she cleverly crafted and has gone down in history. The interaction between the Bennet sisters and the new bachelors’ of Mr. Bingley and Mr. Darcy is still the main focus even with the growing concern of the zombie threat. 

            What I especially loved about this re-telling was that the core scenes between Darcy and Elizabeth were still focused on, yet to add to the growing interaction between them, rather than a fight with words, it is added with real physical combat. Elizabeth is still seen as the dynamic woman from Austin’s classic, yet added with her own physical skills with both Darcy and also Lady Catherine de Bourgh. 

            Grahame-Smith has simply spun the classic to mould into a zombie filled world, rather than using the tale and trying to sow the two together. From my own personal enjoyment of the book, I would say it surely deserves to be linked to the classic itself to go down in history. 

  • A Court of Thornes and Roses by Sarah J. Maas

It is well known that Maas’ second series she wrote was inspired by a Beauty and the Beast re-telling. This is clear with the heroine, Feyre Acheron, being forced to leave her home and to live in the Fae world with her captor, Tamlin. Even though she is told that she is free to wonder the grounds, and even visit the other courts within the Fae world, she is never to return to the human world — much like Belle is forbidden to return home. 

            Much like the Beast, Tamlin is masked from his true appearance that Feyre does not truly know what he looks like. But rather than a beast form, it is a simple mask to cover his face. However, Maas cleverly portrays his character to mark one as a beast that not only does he have the power to transform into this shape, but also his own characteristics are ones that can over power Feyre. 

            But what I love most about this re-telling, is what Maas does with it. Now, I won’t go into detail as that will be a major spoiler for anyone who has not read it, but it’s safe to say that this has to be one of the most refreshing retellings, if not stories in general I have read. Where she takes the tale, to spin it on its head a whole three-sixty is like nothing I have ever read before. Even if it wasn’t a re-telling, I would say it needed to be talked about simply from this alone. But the fact that it is inspired by such a well-known tale, it only opens the eyes of the reader even more. 

  • Ophelia by Lisa M. Klein

Shakespeare’s Hamlet is a story millions know. It has inspired other re-telling’s, such as the Disney’s Lion King, but it is Klein’s work that I want to put the spotlight on. Ophelia is a mere side character in Shakespeare’s tale, a love interest for Hamlet that has a terrible fate. But what Klein does is gives the tale to Ophelia herself. 

            Rather than being seen as the mentally unstable women she is in the classic play, instead she is shown to be full of wit and knowledge that she uses in order to escape the trauma happening within the castle.

            Klein doesn’t take away the fact that she is the love interest of Hamlet, and in fact still uses this as a centre piece within her re-telling. It is due to this that it is heart-rendering for the reader as they know where the story leads. But rather than Shakespeare’s take on Ophelia becoming mad, Klein uses it as a tactic of manipulation. Ophelia is given the stake of intelligence and deviousness in order to try and survive the ordeal that has befallen her dark prince and his kingdom. 

            A must read to show true feminine power in a world where men rule. 

  • Heartless by Marissa Meyer

There should be no surprise that an Alice in Wonderland re-telling is on this list with how many graze the shelves. But Heartless by Marissa Meyer is one that truly caught my attention. Instead of the focus being on Alice, it is instead seen as a prequel for the Queen of Hearts. 

            The malicious, dangerous Queen that Alice encounters is given the limelight and dives into the character itself to perhaps prove why she is the way she is when Alice comes to visit. The Queen was none other than a young girl named Catherine who wanted to simply fall in love on her own terms. But since she had attracted the attention of the King himself, she is forced into a different world than what she wanted for herself. 

            This tale gives so much depth to a devious woman and proves that when fate intertwines, it is hard for someone to accept that what they wanted for themselves is no longer possible.

  • Night Spinner by Addie Thorley

This book I feel doesn’t gets enough credit. As someone who is a lover of Victor Hugo’s Notre-Dame de Paris and the Disney version of the tale, it didn’t take long for me to pick up this book that was rumoured to be inspired by the very classic. 

            The main character, Enebish, is seen as monstrous, damaged and scared, much like Quasimodo, and has been sent to the sanctuary to live out her days due to the damage of war. That is where we begin the story, and much like the redemption of Hugo’s protagonist, it is the help of others to accept Enebish that helps her understand who and what she truly is. 

            What I loved about Hugo’s work was the question about what truly makes a monster. Was it outside appearance? Or the act of someone? This theme is once again explored with Night Spinner, and to see the transformation of a character keeps you glued to the page. 

Final thoughts

Re-telling’s can be nerve-wracking, especially when it is one story that you love dearly. But when done right, when using the right themes and tropes from the re-telling’s but able to make it your own, that’s when you’re onto a winner. These are only a handful of examples I could give. There are many out there, and I would say not to be afraid to go and pick them up. You might just be utterly surprised. 

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