Book List

9 Great YA Retellings of Classics You May Have Read in British Lit Class

September 9, 2016
Tara Grieco
Riveted Editorial Board

Kim Zarins’ new novel Sometimes We Tell the Truth (which we’re currently featuring an extended excerpt of here) is an awesome contemporary retelling of Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales. Set on a bus ride to Washington, D.C., a group of teens each tell a story—some fantastical, some realistic, some scandalous—in pursuit of the ultimate prize: a perfect score.

Sometimes We Tell the Truth is certainly not the first YA novel to pay homage to classic Brit Lit, but it got us thinking about some of our other favorite retellings. Perhaps you read classics like Jane Eyre or Frankenstein in high school or college, or maybe you only read the Sparknotes because you had a Pre-Calc Exam to prep for, a big meet to practice for, or Twilight to read instead–we’re not judging! But whether you loved the originals, or have never read them, you will definitely enjoy these books inspired by classic works of Brit Lit.

Sometimes We Tell the Truthby Kim Zarins

As I mentioned above, Kim Zarins breathes new life into Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales in this fresh and contemporary retelling that explores the dark realities of high school, and the subtle moments that bring us all together. Our extended excerpt will be available until September 19, be sure to give it a read and let us know what you think!

Unhookedby Lisa Maxwell

Lisa Maxwell’s Unhooked offers a different take J. M. Barrie’s Peter Pan, focusing on Gwendolyn Allister who’s grown up on the run from her mother’s delusions. But are they delusions? When Gwen and her friend Olivia are kidnapped by shadowy creatures and dragged to a world of flesh-eating sea hags and dangerous Fey, Gwen begins to realize that maybe her mother isn’t so crazy after all……

Marly’s Ghostby David Levithan and Brian Selznick

In this contemporary retelling of Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol, Ben’s girlfriend Marly dies and he feels like his life is over….until her ghost and three other spirits show up and take him on a journey through Valentine’s Days past, present, and future.


This Monstrous Thingby Mackenzi Lee

Mackenzi Lee’s This Monstrous Thing is a retelling of Frankenstein by Mary Shelley, set in alternate fantasy world where some men are made from clockwork parts and carriages are steam-powered.

This Dark Endeavorby Kenneth Oppel

Kenneth Oppel offered up his own take on Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein with This Dark Endeavor (and it’s sequel, Such Wicked Intent), where twin Frankenstein brothers quest for an ancient formula for the Elixir of Life.

Prom and Prejudiceby Elizabeth Eulberg

A retelling of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice (obvi)– rather than go the zombie route, Elizabeth Eulberg’s Prom and Prejudice modernized the classic tale and set it in present day in the prestigious Longbourn Academy, where all the young ladies in attendance (expect Lizzie Bennett, of course) are in want of prom dates.

The Madman’s Daughterby Megan Shepherd

Inspired by H.G. Wells’s The Island of Dr. Moreau, Megan Shepherd’s The Madman’s Daughter pits sixteen-year-old Juliet against her father and his dangerous experiments on a remote island.

Janeby April Lindner

In April Lindner’s Jane, a contemporary retelling of Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre (bet you didn’t see that one coming), Jane Moore takes a nanny job at the home of a world-famous rock star on the brink of a huge comeback and soon finds herself in the midst of a forbidden romance. Swoon!