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Scared of classics? Try a classic-inspired YA novel instead!


One of our very favourite things in the world is when a YA novel is inspired by a beloved classic. Shakespeare? Dickens? Austen? Bronte? We wanna catch ’em all!

i love them so much

The classics can feel daunting and more than a little intimidating, but going into a YA retelling is just our normal reading. Then once you know the characters and the basic plot you can go into the original completely fear-free! Here are a few to check out:

this dark endeavour‘This Dark Endeavour’ by Kenneth Oppel

Retelling of Mary Shelley’s ‘Frankenstein’. This trilogy is a prequel of sorts to ‘Frankenstein’, telling the story of twin brothers, Victor and Konrad. When Konrad gets ill, Victor is unwilling to give up on him, enlisting their cousin Elizabeth and best friend Henry to collect the ingredients to create the Elixir of Life.

dorothy must die‘Dorothy Must Die’ by Danielle Paige

Retelling of L Frank Baum’s ‘The Wizard of Oz’. Danielle Paige turns this classic completely on its head when Dorothy into the villain. She found her way back to Oz and the power went to her head, corrupting her and Oz itself. Amy Gumm is the other girl from Kansas and she is on a mission to undo the horror Dorothy has unleashed and, well, Dorothy must die.

new girl‘New Girl’ by Paige Harbison

Retelling of Daphne du Maurier’s ‘Rebecca’. Paige Harbison re-imagines Du Maurier’s most famous novel when a new girl fills the spot of perfect Becca at an exclusive boarding school. Becca disappeared, and she may be gone, but she may not be… ‘New Girl’ also omits the name of the narrator for the entire novel just like in ‘Rebecca’.

for the darkness shows the stars‘For the Darkness Shows to Stars’ by Diana Peterfreund

Retelling of Jane Austen’s ‘Persuasion’. In a future where a genetic experiment has devastated humanity, a new class system has placed anti-tech Luddites in power. Elliot is a dutiful Luddite daughter, and when a servant, Kai, asked her to run away with him four years ago, she turned him down and it broke her heart. But now Kai is back and Elliot is going to get a second chance at love.

tiger lily‘Tiger Lily’ by Jodi Lynn Anderson

Retelling of JM Barrie’s ‘Peter Pan’. We see the world of Neverland through the eyes of Tinkerbell, telling the story of Tiger Lily as she falls under Peter Pan’s spell, risking both her family and her future to be with him. But Tiger Lily soon learns that an enemy can live in even the kindest of hearts. It’ll also make you super emotional and you should probably have a tissue or two on hand.

masque of the red death‘Masque of the Red Death’ by Bethany Griffin

Retelling of Edgar Allan Poe’s ‘The Masque of the Red Death’. Edgar Allan Poe’s creepy short story is taken to a post-apocalyptic version of 1870 and a deadly virus has decimated the population. Masked collectors roam the streets removing corpses that fill them, but Araby hides from the world by intoxication. This is a sexy, Gothic re-imagining of this classic tale and don’t tell anyone, but we kind of prefer Bethany Griffin’s version…

the madwomans daughter‘The Madman’s Daughter’ by Megan Shepherd

Retelling of HG Wells’ ‘The Island of Doctor Moreau’. It’s London in 1894 and Juliet Moreau has made a life for herself as a maid, ignoring her father’s scandal that ruined everything. But then she learns that he’s still alive and working on his experiments on a tropical island. Along with the doctor’s handsome, young assistant, they travel to the island to discover the true depths of the doctor’s madness.

bridget‘Bridget Jones’ Diary’ by Helen Fielding

Retelling of Jane Austen’s ‘Pride and Prejudice’. This isn’t YA, but it’s a classic in its own right and a complete must read, especially if you’re a fan of the films. Bridget is in her 30s, a few pounds over her “ideal weight”, drinks far too much and is still single. Her hilarious (and scarily relatable) diary is a must read for whenever you need a giggle, and some reassurance that becoming an adult doesn’t automatically make you responsible.

We’ve also got some exciting classic-inspired YA releases coming up later in the year!

Chasing the Stars‘Chasing the Stars’ by Malorie Blackman (21st April)

Retelling of Shakespeare’s ‘Othello’. Shakespeare set in space? Oh, yes please! When a virus wipes out the entire crew of the ship while they’re travelling back to Earth, Olivia and her brother Aidan find themselves alone. Until a ship headed in the opposite direction is attacked and Nathan finds himself as one of the few survivors. Their lives collide unexpectedly and they find themselves falling desperately in love, but not everyone is pleased…

The Hypnotist‘The Hypnotist’ by Laurence Anholt (6th October)

Retelling of Charles Dickens’ ‘Great Expectations’. Jack has left Ireland to become a Professor of Neurology in the American South. He has skills he keeps hidden – skills in hypnotism and mind control. Thirteen-year-old Pip is taken from his orphanage to be a farm hand and a carer for the farmer’s wife. But Pip is black and the farmer and his wife are white and this is 1960s American and racial tensions are high and the danger is closer than imagined.

Do you have any favourite classic-inspired YA novels? Let us know @maximumpopbooks!

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Written by Sophie Waters

Sophie is the Head of Commercial at Maximum Pop! Having studied English Lit and Creative Writing at Bath Spa University, she came to MP! to satisfy her passion for books. Sophie is a diehard Hufflepuff and feminist. She's also a huge cat lover, and can often be found rocking her socks off at a gig.

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