The 21 Best Classic Retellings to Read in 2021 – Business Insider

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Whether it’s the magical tale of “Beauty and the Beast” or a well-loved Jane Austen novel like “Pride and Prejudice,” classic stories whisk us away to magical lands and inspire a lifetime of reading. In contemporary retellings, authors reimagine our favorite legends and heroes in new and exciting stories. 
Each retelling on this list was influenced by an ancient myth, a magical fairytale, or a work of classic literature. To gather these recommendations, I looked at popular reads from lists on Audible, Goodreads, and Bookshop
Whether you’re looking for a fresh perspective on an old fairytale or to discover an ancient legend in a new setting, retellings offer exciting reimaginations of our favorite stories. 
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Princess Lira is a royal siren with an impressive record of 17 princes killed. When she disobeys her mother, the Sea Queen turns her into a human who must deliver Prince Elian’s heart — a siren killer — or remain a human forever in this dark and vicious romantic fantasy. 
Retelling: The Little Mermaid” by Hans Christian Andersen 
Available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $10.11
Anna K” is a modern YA retelling of a classic romance, perfect for anyone who loved “Gossip Girl.” Anna K. is a 17-year-old girl at the height of Manhattan society who has always managed to avoid the teenage drama and problems that plague her friends and family. When a new boy with a bad reputation comes into her life, Anna can’t resist the gravity that seems to pull them together. 
Retelling: Anna Karenina” by Leo Tolstoy
Available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $9.99
In this retelling of a Jane Austen classic, Zuri Benitez is proud of her Afro-Latino family in Brooklyn and can’t stand to see the neighborhood gentrifying around her. When the wealthy Darcy family moves in across the street, she’s repulsed by Darius’ arrogance — yet their initial dislike grows into a mutual understanding in this novel’s exploration of race and class, illuminated by Ibi Zoboi’s poetic writing style.
Retelling: Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austen
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Sam DuChamp is an Indian writer living in America who has authored a series of unsuccessful spy thrillers. He eventually creates a character named Ismail Smile who falls in love with an unattainable television star and begins to send love letters under the pen name “Quichotte.” As his character sets off on a cross-country journey to prove his worthiness of the star’s love, Sam DuChamp’s personal crises prove urgent in this playful and satirical retelling.
Retelling: Don Quixote” by Miguel De Cervantes
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The first in a series of new imaginings of fairy tales in a futuristic world, “Cinder” features a cyborg retelling of “Cinderella,” set in New Beijing as a plague devastates the city. As the merciless Lunar people watch from space, Cinder’s life intertwines with the prince’s and she must dig into her mysterious past in the hopes of saving the planet. 
Retelling: Cinderella” by Charles Perrault
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Blanca and Roja are sisters but (more importantly) bitter rivals, bound by a generations-old spell that will one day leave one of them a girl and the other trapped in the body of a swan. Woven with magical realism and spell-binding storytelling, this story is a gorgeous and diverse fairytale retelling as two local boys get entangled in the unpredictable magic within the woods. 
Retelling: “Snow-White and Rose-Red” by the Brothers Grimm
Available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $10.80
A Court of Thorns and Roses” is the first in a hugely popular five-book fantasy series about a huntress who is captured and stolen away to a magical land after killing a protected wolf on a hunt. As Feyre uncovers the truths about the beast who captured her, her resentment slowly shifts to burning passion. When a looming evil threatens the magical land, Feyre must decide where her loyalties truly lie. 
Retelling: Beauty and the Beast” by Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve 
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Chef Ashna Raje is struggling to keep her father’s once-popular restaurant alive when an opportunity to win a huge grand prize on a reality cooking show offers the answers to all her problems.  When she’s paired up with the worst possible partner, Rico Silva — a soccer star and Ashna’s first love — the competition heats up and brings their past relationship to the forefront. Ashna and Rico must navigate both in this romantic comedy that also addresses more complex issues.
Retelling:Persuasion” by Jane Austen
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Separated into five sections that each reveal the experiences of a single character, “Home Fire” is an insightful but heartbreaking story about a British Muslim family who struggles between love and loyalty when a shadow of a terrorist threat looms over them. Isma spent most of her young life raising her younger twin siblings, Aneeka and Parvaiz, but is now off to America to pursue her own dreams. When Parvaiz disappears to explore the dark legacy of their father, his resurfacing brings Isma’s worst fears to life. 
Retelling: Antigone” by Sophocles
Available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $10.85
In this contemporary reimagination of a beloved classic, the March sisters are all grown up and have pursued their separate dreams. Meg is living the charming family life she thought always wanted while Jo is struggling in New York City after a painful end to her journalism career. When their mother falls ill, the sisters rush home for the holidays and find that family and sisterhood may be the key to truly understanding their dreams.
Retelling: Little Women” by Louisa May Alcott
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When Cindy, a recent college graduate with a degree in shoe design, starts working for her stepmother behind the scenes of a reality show, she’s hoping it’s just temporary until she can launch her fashion career. But when a spot on the show needs filling, Cindy volunteers and finds herself quickly becoming a plus-size icon for viewers everywhere. From the author of “Dumplin,” this romance is a fun and fabulous retelling of a classic fairytale.  
Retelling: Cinderella” by Charles Perrault
Available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $15.99
This novel begins with a simple and elegant story and quickly builds to a mesmerizing and breathtaking fairytale retelling. Shiori is a princess who is usually able to conceal her secret, forbidden magic. But when her stepmother banishes her and turns her brothers into cranes, Shiori searches for them and uncovers an overwhelming conspiracy that only she can stop.
Retelling: The Wild Swans” by Hans Christian Andersen
Available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $17.29
Love in Color” is a collection of short stories about love that retell ancient myths and legends from an array of countries and cultures. Perfect for lovers of romance and happy endings, this anthology brings a vibrancy to classic tales with contemporary twists.
Retelling: Various folktales and legends from West Africa, the Middle East, and Greece
Available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $7.99
In this retelling exploring the darker side of Oz, Amy Gumm is another girl from Kansas who has been trained by the Revolutionary Order of the Wicked to kill Dorothy, the violent and unforgiving ruler of Oz. Amy must take the Tin Man’s heart, the Scarecrow’s brain, and the Lion’s courage on her dark journey to restore Oz to the way it’s supposed to be.
Retelling: The Wizard of Oz” by L. Frank Baum
Available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $14.99
In this award-winning fantasy retelling, Miryem sets out to save her family from her father’s debts and quickly gains a reputation for being able to spin silver into gold. When Miryem’s skills catch the attention of an evil creature, she’s given an impossible task that sets her on a journey to save the kingdom — and herself. 
Retelling: Rumpelstiltskin” by the Brothers Grimm
Available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $7.41
The Wrath and the Dawn” is an enchanting and magical story where Khalid, an 18-year-old king, takes a bride each night and kills them by morning, devastating families throughout the kingdom every day. When Shahrzad’s friend falls victim to Khalid, Shahrzad hatches a plan for revenge and volunteers to be his next bride but is quickly entangled in a betrayal far more complex than she could have imagined. 
Retelling:The Arabian Nights
Available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $12.94
The Girl in Red” is a suspenseful, post-apocalyptic retelling of “Little Red Riding Hood” where the population has been devastated by an epidemic and terrifying predators emerge from the woods at night. Alternating between the past and the present, Red must reach her grandmother’s house and try to survive in this brutal and twisted dystopia.
Retelling: Little Red Riding Hood” by the Brothers Grimm
Available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $15.19
In this modern retelling of Arthurian legends, Bree Matthews escapes to a residential high school program for gifted students after her mother dies in a tragic accident. When Bree witnesses a magical attack on her first night, a secret society of magical students unveils an entire world of hidden memories and well-kept secrets, including Bree’s own magical powers and the circumstances of her mother’s death. 
Retelling: King Arthur legends
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Ayesha is working to pay off her debts to her uncle while constantly being reminded that her younger cousin has received countless marriage proposals. Certain she doesn’t want an arranged marriage, Ayesha meets Khalid and can’t stand that she’s attracted to him despite his judgemental attitude. When a surprise engagement between Khalid and Ayesha’s cousin is announced, Ayesha must confront her family’s gossip and her deeply personal discoveries about herself to find what she truly wants. 
Retelling: Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austen
Available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $5.01
When Jamie Watson and Charlotte Holmes, the great-great-great-granddaughters of the famous detective duo Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson, meet at a prep school in Connecticut, it seems they might make better rivals than friends. But when a student dies under mysterious circumstances mirrored from an old Sherlock Holmes story, Jamie and Charlotte are framed as the culprits and must solve the mystery to clear their names.
Retelling: Sherlock Holmes” by Arthur Conan Doyle
Available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $12.49
In this original and beautiful retelling of “The Odyssey,” the life of a young farmer named Chinonso is changed after he stops a woman named Ndali from jumping off a bridge. They fall in love, but when Ndali’s wealthy and educated family refuses their union, Chinonso sets off on a long and devastating journey to prove himself worthy. 
Retelling: The Odyssey” by Homer

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