YA Retellings

I love a good retelling. Whether it be of folklore, a fairy tale, a classic novel, a Shakespeare play, or something else, I love the way a retelling updates a story and brings new insights for a modern audience. It’s also just fun to see a beloved story and characters in familiar but new situations. In addition, making everything interesting for a young adult audience takes a lot of skill and creativity. Below, I’ve listed a few young adult retellings I’ve personally enjoyed as well as a few others that come well-reviewed and recommended!


Travelers Along the Way: A Robin Hood Remix by Amina Mae Safi: As the title indicates, this book is a retelling of the Robin Hood folk tales. Set during the Third Crusade, Robin is portrayed by a female Muslim teenager named Rahma al-Hud who, along with her merry band of misfits, works to secure Jerusalem from Richard the Lionheart and the false Queen Isabella by using a combination of cunning, wit, and thievery. Despite the dark wartime setting, this book is a quick read filled with fun and humor and much more focused on familial love and friendship than romance. And if you like this one, be sure to check out the other titles in the Remixed Classics series!

A smiling potato holds a large sword. An angry donut floats menacingly toward the potato. A blue castle is in the background.

More folklore retellings:

Fairy Tales

Skin of the Sea by Natasha Bowen: This Little Mermaid retelling is set in the mid-1400s at the beginning of the slave trade and is full of West African mythology and history. Simi is a Mami Wata (mermaid) whose job is to collect and bless the souls of those who die at sea. When she unknowingly defies an ancient decree, she must journey to the Supreme Creator to apologize and save the other Mami Wata, but there are others who will do whatever they can to make sure she fails. This story was incredibly creative and compelling and did a great job of portraying a culture and history that is so often overlooked. If you enjoy this one, don’t miss its sequel, Soul of the Deep!

A young teen looks up uncertainly at the sky. Rain drops fall all around and into their open hand.

More fairy tale retellings:


Jennifer Donnelly

Six Crimson Cranes

Elizabeth Lim

Classic Novels

The Weight of Blood by Tiffany D. Jackson: In this retelling of Stephen King’s classic Carrie, Maddy Washington is a bullied, biracial teen in small-town Georgia who is forced to pass herself as white by her overzealous father. When people find out, the bullying only gets worse. Then she discovers a power she never knew she had, a power that will change Maddy and her town forever. I’ve personally never been a huge horror fan, but I still thought this novel was very well done. It adds to the story by bringing in modern technology and all the consequences that go along with it in a town grappling with the lingering effects of the Jim Crow era. Fair warning: This book is very dark and definitely not for the faint of heart!

A young teen looks up uncertainly at the sky. Rain drops fall all around and into their open hand.

More classic novel retellings:

A Blade So Black

L.L. McKinney

One for All

Lillie Lainoff


These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong: This Romeo and Juliet retelling makes the titular characters heirs to two rival gangs in 1920s Shanghai. When a deadly and unexplainable contagion starts ripping its way through the city, they are forced to team up in order to save the place they both call home. It was interesting to see how the author took the original story and infused it with the effects of other major events of the era, as well as how she altered some of the major plot points while still staying true to the play. If you like this one, try the sequel, Our Violent Ends!


A young teen looks up uncertainly at the sky. Rain drops fall all around and into their open hand.

More Shakespeare retellings:

-Katie E. / Library Assistant

Marathon County Public Library

Marathon County Public Library (MCPL)