Horror Retellings To Scare You All Over Again
I have always loved, a good horror story. There’s just something enthralling about them: the atmosphere, the anticipation, the chills that creep up your spine… And I’m not alone here. A lot of readers out there also share that sentiment, and for some, this love sometimes leads them into writing horror. They may even go so far as to take an established horror story and put their own spin on it.
Retellings are nothing new in the book world, but they’re more popularly focused on fairy tales or myths. Still, horror gets its share of love in the retelling sector, whether it’s a new take on a classic tale like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde or a reinvention of a more recent scary story, like Carrie.
There has definitely been an uptick in this horror retelling trend over the last few years, and my horror-loving heart is here for it. This list will include both modern adaptations of other horror novels as well as retellings of non-horror novels with a scary spin. Most of the recent horror retellings have been YA, but I’ll start with a couple adult horror titles.
Let’s get into the scares!
Adult Horror Retellings
What Moves the Dead by T. Kingfisher
Retelling: Fall of the House of Usher by Edgar Allan Poe
This may seem like cheating, because there is an entire book dedicated to Poe on this list. But respect is still due to this novella. When Alex hears that their childhood friend is dying, they go to the Usher house to visit. Waiting for them there is a house practically overtaken by my mushrooms, possessed wildlife, and the Usher siblings, Madeline and Roderick, being consumed by various maladies. Alex becomes determined to figure out what is going on before all three succumb to the house’s destruction.
Home Before Dark by Riley Sager
Retellings: Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson and The Amityville Horror by Jay Anson
After her father’s death, Maggie inherits Baneberry Hall, a reportedly haunted manor that her family bought and stayed in for exactly three weeks before leaving. Her dad wrote a book about their experiences there, which earned him fame but has been an unwanted companion for Maggie her whole life. She goes there intending to both get it ready to resell as well as find out what really happened 25 years ago.
YA Horror Retellings
The Weight of Blood by Tiffany D. Jackson
Retelling: Carrie by Stephen King
This one took the book world by storm last year. Maddie is a biracial teen who, due to pressure from her father, has been passing as white in her still segregated small town until her secret is revealed and she becomes a target. When a video goes viral, the high school decides to have their first integrated prom, not knowing that this set up will lead to a terrible prank being played on Maggie. What the bullies don’t know is that Maddie is telekinetic. And the powder keg that has been building up for years is about to explode.
His Hideous Heart edited by Dahlia Adler
Retelling: Various Edgar Allan Poe stories
The stories in this anthology collection are all modern spins on classic Poe stories. The contributors for it are some of the popular YA authors of today, including Rin Chupeco, Dahlia Adler, Tiffany D. Jackson, and more. What is excellent about these stories is that the authors all simultaneously make the stories their own while giving homage to the original story. As an added bonus, the originals are included in the back of the book.
My Dear Henry by Kalynn Bayron
Retelling: The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson
In this YA reimagining of the classic, Gabriel returns home to London to meet up with his friend Henry. They haven’t seen each other since they were both expelled from school due to rumors about the nature of their friendship. There he also meets Hyde, a strange young man whose closeness to Henry invokes jealousy in Gabriel until he begins to uncover the mystery behind their strange relationship. This cover is fire, and we love to see Black boys being represented in literature, so I am here for all of this. Plus, we haven’t had a good Jekyll and Hyde story in a while and, with Bayron at the helm, we are in good hands.
The Girl From the Well by Rin Chupeco
Retelling: “Okiku and the Nine Plates”
Okikuku is a ghost who exacts revenge on the behalf of murdered children by killing the people who killed them. When she meets Tark, a tattooed young man who seems haunted by an evil entity himself, she is extremely intrigued. She puts her vengeance work to the side and becomes focused on helping Tark rid himself of whatever evil entity has attached itself to him. The original folk tale also inspired The Ring, so you know you’re in for a creepy ride.
House of Salt and Sorrow by Erin A. Craig
Retelling: “The Twelve Dancing Princesses“
After the mysterious deaths of four of her eleven sisters, Princess Annaleigh begins to wonder if there is merit to the town’s belief that her family is cursed. As she begins to have visions that made her even more sure, she also becomes aware of her sisters sneaking out nightly. Feeling the two mysteries are somehow connected, she sets out to solve the mystery before she becomes a victim herself.
Ten by Gretchen McNeil
Retelling: And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie
Ten teenagers alone on an island in a storm. What could go wrong? Meg and Minnie join other classmates in a weekend that was intended to be a last hurrah before graduation. Joining them are lifelong school friends as well as some new kids from another school. However when a DVD with the message “Vengeance is mine” is found, the mood of the weekend changes. And when the murders start happening, it quickly becomes a survival game as Meg hurries to find out who is behind these happenings and why.
Looking for more horror retellings? Check out these Edgar Allan Poe Retellings and Readalikes. You might also be interested in 28 Must-Read Frightening Folk Horror Books.