Bookish Musings: What Types of Retellings Do You Like?

 
 

I like retellings! I feel like a lot of people do. “Retelling” is a rather vague word though, when you think about it, because there are all different types of these books out there, ranging from different genres to different types of stories being retold to different twists. So I thought it’d be fun to talk about it and get everyone else’s opinions!


Types of Stories that Can Be Retold

People tend to mostly talk about fairy tale retellings, but fairy tales aren’t the only types of stories that can be retold! There’s also mythology, classics, poems, short stories, children’s stories, nursery rhymes, folklore, the lives of famous historical people, historical events, and maybe even other types that I haven’t thought of or come across yet.

I like all of these, as long as I’m able to read or learn about the original beforehand. I would love to see more retellings based on classics though, as those are hard to find but they have so much potential! The Picture of Dorian Gray, Frankenstein, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde… so many classics have such unique concepts that I’d love to see explored more and in different ways. I also think it would be cool if there were more retellings of short literature, like poems and nursery rhymes. I don’t think I’ve ever come across a nursery rhyme retellings, but I really want to find one!

 
 

Retelling vs. Prequel/Sequel vs. Inspired By

There are also different types of retellings, even though I’m guilty of lumping them all under the same word. There are the true retellings that use the same story idea/basics but with some sort of twist or just with more depth. Sometimes they use the same characters as the original, sometimes they use the story but different characters. Then there are prequel and sequel “retellings” that use the same characters (often with the author’s own take on them) but tell of events leading up to or taking place after the original story. Last but not least, there are the stories that aren’t quite retellings but are inspired by another story and use an idea or two from the original to jumpstart their own story.

I do enjoy all of these, but my favorite in most cases is the kind that uses the general story and basics of the original but gives it a twist. For Peter Pan retellings specifically, however, I prefer the prequel/sequel since it’s the characters I find so interesting, especially Hook. I would also love some Hades & Persephone retellings that use the actual characters and expand on the original story with more depth. Inspired-by types can be great books in general, but they’re not satisfying when it’s an actual retelling that I’m looking for.

 
 

Types of Twists

There are also all different ways an author can twist a story to make it different and unique. Authors can change the genre, the setting, the genders of the characters, the species of the characters (i.e. make them paranormal), the relationships among characters. They can make the story about LGBT+, POC, or disabled characters. Authors can also add twists to the plot and general story, exploring different concepts or taking things in a different direction.

I enjoy any kinda twist, and I’ve also enjoyed retellings that weren’t particularly twisty but just added more depth to the story and characters. However, I’d specifically love to see more paranormal retellings and retellings with different kinds of rep/diversity/inclusivity.

 
 

Overall Thoughts on Retellings

They still need to be well-written books, I’m not going to read or love something just because it’s a retelling, but I do think they can be a lot of fun!

 
 

Some Recommendations

Scrudge & Barley, Inc. by John InmanThe Goblins of Bellwater by Molly RingleThis Dark Endeavor by Kenneth OppelGirl on a Wire by Gwenda BondCaptain by Artie Sievers

Scrudge & Barley, Inc. is a really sweet modern M/M retelling of A Christmas Carol.

The Goblins of Bellwater is a retelling based on the poem The Goblin Market.

This Dark Endeavor is kind of a modified prequel about Victor Frankenstein.

Girl on a Wire is a YA retelling loosely based on Romeo and Juliet.

Captain is a prequel that tells how James came to be Captain Hook and how Neverland became the way it is.

 
 
 

Talk to me!

What types of stories do you like retellings of?
What type of retelling do you like best (same story, prequel/sequel, inspired-by)?
What types of twists would you like to see more of?

 

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  1. Tânia @MyLovelySecret

    I’m huge fan of retellings. I used to read fairytale retellings the most, but now I read any kind of retellings, from mythology to classics. As long as the books are well-written and have enthralling plots and three-dimensional characters, I don’t have a preference – I’ll happily read same story, prequel/sequel or inspired by retellings. I think I never come across a retelling inspired by a nursery’s rhyme too. If I find one, I’ll let you know. :)

    Happy readings! ;)

    Tânia @MyLovelySecret recently posted: Seven Books-to-Series Adaptations I'd Love to Watch

  2. Suz

    Retellings can be a lot of fun. One of my favourites is Marissa Meyer’s Lunar Chronicles.
    I’m intrigued to know how Scrudge & Barley, Inc. comes from A Christmas Carol.

    1. Kristen Burns

      I definitely find it fun to see how authors twist the original story. I haven’t read The Lunar Chronicles though! Scrudge & Barley follows the same storyline about a greedy business owner being visited by three ghosts on Christmas Eve, except it’s super gay lol. The story is a lot more touching than the cover makes it look.

  3. Dani @ Perspective of a Writer

    I love the kind of retellings where you can see that they were seriously inspired by many details of the original story but one or more aspects are totally different. I just read A Peter Pan retelling that is AMAZING! I am so blown away by it (I’m not a fan of Peter Pan) that I’ve been telling everyone. Hahaha. I enjoyed The Goblins of Bellwater!

    1. Kristen Burns

      Yes! I love being able to see the comparisons and be pleasantly surprised by what the author changes. Awesome! Peter Pan is one of the few classics I like. I’m glad you also enjoyed Goblins of Bellwater!

  4. Sam@wlabb

    I have mostly read Jane Austen retellings, because that’s all they seem to do in contemporaries, but I also have read a bunch based on fairytales and mythology. I would love to read more mythologically based retellings, because I am really familiar with those. I like the prequel/sequel thing too. Splintered was a great series, and was a continuation of Alice in Wonderland.

    1. Kristen Burns

      I haven’t read Jane Austen, or any retellings, but that’s cool! I’d like more mythology retellings too, but retellings of the actual stories instead of just the characters. I’ve considered reading Splintered, glad you liked it!

  5. Lola

    I don’t read a lot of retellings in general as I am not a big fan of the genre. Somehow I just don’t really like it if stories are based on other stories. I can kinda see the appeal and especially how there are story concepts you can give a twist on. I just rarely pick them up. I think this is also because the retellings I read werne’t ones I really liked or they stayed too close to the original (or often Disney version) of the fairy tale. I guess I want the stories to still feel fresh somehow.

    My preference would be of stories that have a twist that makes them different enough of the original or are more inspired by type of stories. I don’t think I ever read any prequel or sequel type of retelling. You also make a good point here that retelling don’t have to be fairytale retellings that there are many different type of retellings.

    1. Kristen Burns

      You like completely original stories, that makes sense! And I can definitely see how it might turn you off the genre if the ones you’ve read weren’t so great.

      I definitely like it when the stories have some cool twists :-)

  6. Elley @ Elley the Book Otter

    I’m actually doing a whole series of posts on fairy tale retellings over on my blog!! Must be a retellings kind of month. ;) I love fairy tale retellings, both straight retellings and books that are more inspired by the original story (especially romances). I also love when there’s a twist to the story, either gender-swapped roles or LGBTQIA or role reversal where the villain isn’t really the villain… In addition to fairy tales, I love Alice in Wonderland retellings, Jane Austen retellings, retellings inspired by certain other classics…. Great post! :)

    1. Kristen Burns

      Oh, cool! I’ll have to check out those posts! I love when authors add their own twists. Ooh, role reversal is a cool twist too. I’ve not had good luck with Alice in Wonderland retellings, but maybe I’ll find a good one eventually. Thanks!

    1. Kristen Burns

      I don’t think I’ve ever read a retelling for either of those! Although I’ve never read either of those originals either lol. Genderbent retellings are so fun!

  7. Karen E Alderman

    I’ve read so few of the originals that I can’t be sure how I feel about them lol

    I read retellings but I have no idea how they stand up to the originals. The exception being Beauty and the Beast retellings. I haven’t read that book either but have seen multiple movies so I get the idea and that seems to be the one remade the most.

    I’ve read several P&P retellings but again, not the original.

    Karen @ For What It’s Worth

    1. Kristen Burns

      Yeah, retellings can definitely be enjoyed just as a book if you’re not familiar with the original, but it’s hard to say whether they’re good as a retelling. I usually try to read the original first just because I like being able to see how they compare. There are so many BatB retellings! I wonder why that one is so popular.

  8. Camilla @Reader in the Attic

    I love almost every tipe of retelling. I’ve a soft spot for fables because in the majority of the cases open the road to sci-fi or fantasy world, that are definitely my favorite.
    I think another nice type of retelling will be based of historical event. Like, not exactly set in our world, but certain event can be the base for a very diffrent story. And also, yes, a retelling is a very good chance at adding diveristy, since majority of the time old tales (from a white perspective) are not exactly what I would call open to people. So, also reading retelling ot outher country tales by ownvoices author is equally amazing.

    You made a good note in the post! I think I never saw a single Dorian Gray retelling! The book can totally open to very dark tones and I’m sure some good retelling, or loosely inspired story would be amazing to read.

    1. Kristen Burns

      I haven’t read many (if any) retellings based on historical events, but I know there are some out there! Retellings are a great chance to add some diversity, especially since, like you said, a lot of the original fairy tales or classics were very narrow in terms of that.

      I’ve actually read two Dorian Gray retellings, but one was a complete disappoint that just copied the story exactly, and the other was more inspired-by. The inspired-by one was Creatures of Will & Temper by Molly Tanzer, if you want to check that out. I’d love to find a good one though!

  9. Angela

    I’ve been reading a lot of retellings this year, and they’re inspired by all sorts of things – lots of fairy tales, but also the Tudors and Greek myths. Also, I seem to read a lot of Pride & Prejudice retellings! I love when authors take old stories or historical people and place them in the modern era.

  10. Greg

    I have to admit I haven’t read many retellings, but I love the idea in theory! I’d love to see some mythology fleshed out, like maybe Norse or other more “uncommon” varieties (by uncommon I mean only that we usually see Greek a lot more than others, at least in my experience). But I’d be particularly interested in prequels/ sequels, as you mention. Take Pride and Prejudice for example. I tried reading it once and got bored, but I’ve seen a bunch of sequels by other authors where they examine their lives after the events of the book, and they solve mysteries or encounter supernatural stuff or whatever. That seems fun.

    Paranormal is something I’d like to see a lot more of too! Eveything is better w/ paranormal lol!

    Greg recently posted: Comic of the Week #67

    1. Kristen Burns

      There’s definitely more Greek myth retellings than others, maybe because it’s what we’re all taught in school. Prequels/sequels can be great!

      I agree wholeheartedly that everything is better with paranormal lol.

  11. Olivia-Savannah Roach

    I LOVE retellings and basically want to read them all! YA contemporary seems to be obsessed with retelling Cinderella and I am still not tired of it. YA fantasy seems to be obsessed with retelling Beauty and the Beast and I am kind of fed up of that -.- But regardless, there are so many more fairytales and princess fairytales if you will, that could do with more retellings! I also LOVE classic retellings. Everyone seems to do Pride and Prejudice but I have a special place in my heart for Frankenstein and Shakespeare retellings. I just read a Dracula prequel book this month and loved it. I think I need more Dracula inspired/retelling books…

    Olivia-Savannah Roach recently posted: She Bakes the Cakes [Book Review]

    1. Kristen Burns

      That’s a good point. I’ve never read a Cinderella retellings, and I guess that explains why, they mostly seem to be non-SFF. Whereas yeah, there are a million BatB retellings, and unfortunately I’m not a big fan of that story and don’t find the retellings all that exciting usually. There are so many others authors could retell! I think Frankenstein retellings are my fave. Huh, I don’t think I’ve ever read an actual Dracula retelling or prequel or anything. I have read a lot of vampire books though, do those all count? :-P

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  13. Nicci @ Sunny Buzzy Books

    I love re-tellings! I love it when they keep the basic ideas and premise but shake up the characters. My husband thinks I’m mad for enjoying “the same story over and over” but I figure so much nowadays is a form of re-telling so I think he is mad, lol.

  14. Suzanne @ The Bookish Libra

    Great post. I really love retellings and am game to try pretty much any type, like you say, as long as they’re well written. I’m an especially big fan of P&P retellings and of retellings from an unexpected perspective – like from the villain’s POV, etc.

    1. Kristen Burns

      Thanks! Exactly, as long as it sounds good and then *is* good, I’m down for any type of retelling! Oh man, I completely forgot about retellings from a different character’s POV!

  15. Becky @ A Fool's Ingenuity

    I like all kinds of retellings. No that’s a lie, I like most retellings. I prefer when it has it’s own spin on a story and doesn’t follow too closely, though. I want to see the story that inspired it, but I don’t want to feel like I’ve read the story before, especially if it’s something well known like a fairytale.

    1. Kristen Burns

      Lol. I don’t want the story to follow too closely either. Like, I read one that literally used some of the same dialogue and brought nothing new at all to the story.

  16. Laura

    I’m definitely a big fan of retellings too! Mostly I read fairytale and myth/legend retellings (I particularly like King Arthur retellings!), but I do enjoy retellings of classics too, although like you, I wish there was more of them out there!

    1. Kristen Burns

      Fairy tales seem to be the most common, but oh yes, that’s true there are quite a few myth/legend ones, like King Arthur! It is too bad there aren’t more classic retellings.