5 Captivating New Books That Reimagine Classic Stories

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Michelle Regalado

Staff Writer

Michelle Regalado is a New York-based digital writer and editor. When she's not hunting down her next must-read book (recommendations are welcome!) or writing about all things pop culture, you can probably find her drinking iced coffee and hanging out with her dog, Lola. Follow her on Twitter: @mar8289

This year has already brought plenty of exciting new releases to bookstores — including several engrossing retellings of some favorite stories. These captivating new books, all released over the past several months, put a modern twist on classic stories many of us know well. From a thrilling take on Jane Eyre to a stunning debut novel that reimagines An American Tragedy as a marathon-worthy true crime series, these five absorbing novels provide revamped, updated versions of iconic tales. Whether you’re looking to revisit some past favorites or simply want some fascinating new titles to add to your TBR list, it’s worth checking out these reads. 

Ahead, check out a handful of the best 2021 retellings to pick up this year. 

The Wife Upstairs by Rachel Hawkins

YA author Rachel Hawkins makes her adult fiction debut with this modern retelling of Jane Eyre. In The Wife Upstairs, Jane is new to the town of Birmingham, Alabama, and takes a job as a dog walker for the city’s elite in order to stay afloat. She soon crosses paths with a wealthy mysterious widower Eddie Rochester. As the two fall for each other, Jane becomes increasingly haunted by the legend of Eddie’s ambitious late wife. Packed with suspense, this gripping novel puts a smart and thrilling twist on the gothic classic.

The Chosen and the Beautiful by Nghi Vo

The Chosen and the Beautiful by Nghi Vo

This captivating and sparkling adaptation of The Great Gatsby recasts the iconic story to focus on Jordan Baker’s point of view. In The Chosen and the Beautiful, Baker is a queer, Asian, adopted socialite in 1920s New York. Although her wealth allows Jordan to move within Daisy’s elite circle, her race and background keeps her perennially on the outskirts, often viewed as an exotic attraction by her peers. Vo heightens the enchanting world of the Roaring Twenties with fantastical elements, making the underlying magic in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s original story literal. Atmospheric and evocative, Nghi Vo’s novel delivers razor sharp commentary on wealth, class, and sexuality wrapped in luscious prose that entrances and entertains. 

Malice by Heather Walter 

A princess isn’t supposed to fall in love with a wicked sorceress, but that’s exactly what happens in this bewitching and deliciously dark retelling of Sleeping Beauty. Heather Walter’s debut is just as gloriously compelling as it sounds, turning the iconic story on its head and giving the villain a chance to shine. Whether you love fairytales or not, readers will find it nearly impossible to resist this captivating and refreshing exploration of the murky area in between good and evil. 

Darling by K. Ancrum cover

Darling by K. Ancrum 

In this engrossing YA retelling of Peter Pan, Wendy Darling has just arrived in Chicago when a boy named Peter appears at her window. Looking for some fun, she agrees to join him for a night on the town. But instead of heading to a party, as she first though, she finds herself running through the city’s underground. As the night unfolds, she meets a captivating cast of characters, including the lost boys, a punk girl named Tinkerbelle, and the terrifying Detective Hook, and begins to uncover Peter’s sinister secrets. 

The Anatomy of Desire by L.R. Dorn

Authors Matt Dorff and Suzanne Dunn make their fiction debut under the pseudonym L.R. Dorn with this riveting reimagining of Theodore Dreiser’s An American Tragedy. After a woman turns up dead, Cleo Ray — the fitness influencer who was last seen with her — finds herself facing accusations of foul play. Written in the format of a true crime docuseries, The Anatomy of Desire is an innovative and riveting read that ratchets up the suspense with every page.