K.A. Linde shares her top bookish retellings

"The feeling that you can know exactly where a story is going and have no idea at the same time. That’s the beauty of a good retelling."

This post was written by K.A. Linde, author of The Wren in the Holly Library.

Retellings are tried and true for a reason. Readers love to swept up into the familiar. A fairy tale that we’ve seen time and time again. The dropped shoe while dashing out of the ball midnight. A library and a prince with a curse. Pulling the sword from the stone. Each one gives tribute to its source material, but the retelling provides something new…something more. A little (or sometimes big twist) that lends itself to being retold and retold again. The feeling that you can know exactly where a story is going and have no idea at the same time. That’s the beauty of a good retelling.

The Wren in the Holly Library by K.A. Linde – This is a forced proximity heist retelling of Beauty and the Beast. My favorite part of my B&tB retelling is the universal fantasy that every person wants to escape the life where no one understands them and find the place (and person!) who truly gets to the heart of who they are. Broken curse and all. This is set in an alternate day NYC with monsters, a street thief is caught stealing from a monster, who has every right to kill her, but instead offers her a job. And as a special bonus, this is a Celtic mythology retelling as well.



The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden – A Baba Yaga folklore retelling set in Russian wilderness. Vasya is captivated by the story of the winter demon, Frost, and falls captive to his spell as her magic emerges amidst her new stepmother’s devout practice, lowering the villages defenses. It’s a beautiful lush story woven by a true master. Personally, I’m obsessed with all winter god stories and this is the cream of the crop.




Spindle Splintered by Alix E. Harrow – A multiverse retelling of Sleeping Beauty, where a girl who is destined to die from an incurable illness, pricks her finger on a spinning wheel and falls through space and time. This is an LGBT bend on the story where the heroine is trying to save people from the timeless tale, but always falls victim to it herself. And the follow up is just as good!



Immortal Longings by Chloe Gong – A dystopian body jumping game to win riches set in a walled city and based on Shakespeare’s Antony and Cleopatra. The main characters are repeatedly drawn to each other in the midst of the game with the forever pull that the pair typically have. I loved every inch of it. And if you like this one, These Violent Delights, is a Romeo and Juliet retelling set in 1920s China between Russian and Chinese gangsters.



Sisters of the Winter Wood by Rena Rossner – A story about two girls who live on the edge of a forest and the threat of a mysterious stranger inspired by Ukranian folklore and Goblin Market by Christina Rossetti. At its heart, it’s a tale of sisterhood and the woes of foreigners corruption. While also dealing with family secrets and magic buried in our heritage. Such a captivating read and a retelling of one of my favorite stories.



Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik – A fascinating retelling of Rumpelstiltskin set amidst Novik’s intriguing Polish folklore. This one follows a money lender, who attempts to help her family while getting a reputation for turning silver into gold. Unfortunately, this talent is found by both the king and fairy creatures and things go awry. This one is immersive and atmospheric and I wish I could relive it for the first time all over again.



Song of Wraiths and Ruin by Roseanne A. Brown – When I first heard the premise for this—Aladdin is sent to kill Jasmine—I was sold. Aladdin is one of my favorite fairy tales, and this one delivers. Adding the complexity of African folklore, it brings a dimension to the already captivating world. Plus, the scenes between the main characters left me wanting more.



The Adventures of Amina al-Sirafi by Shannon Chakraborty – A pirate adventure story set in the Indian Ocean about a middle aged woman who is offered a king’s ransom in exchange for one more voyage. She gets the old team back together in this Sinbad inspired story set on the high seas to find the daughter of one of her crew members. Clever, witty, and utterly charming.



Salt Kiss by Sierra Simone – An erotic retelling of Tristan and Isolde where Tristan is in love with both Isolde and Mark set in Washington D.C. at an exclusive club for the wealthy. Sierra is the epitome of heartfelt, broken longing. And if this is up your alley, I always recommend her modern King Arthur retelling, New Camelot, where Arthur, Lancelot, and Guinevere as a couple. As well as her Thornchapel saga set around the Celtic pagan holidays.



Starling House by Alix E. Harrow – A Wuthering Heights retelling where the gothic house in Kentucky is as much a main character as our two leads. Opal is a social outcast, who is obsessed with a children’s book that is inspired by the gothic house on the hill. When the owner of the house Arthur invites her in as a housekeeper, she gets more than what she bargained for. The legends from the book just might be true. The secrets in this town just might be deadly. And the owner may be the most tempting and dangerous of them all.



The Wrath & the Dawn by Renée Ahdieh – A classic retelling of the One Thousand and One Nights, Shazi volunteers to marry the murderous king. He executes his new bride every sunrise and after Shazi’s best friend is killed in this manner, she plots revenge. She tells him a tale every night to stay alive long enough to exact her revenge, but the king is not all that he seems.



For Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfreund – A fantasy retelling of Persuasion set amidst an anti-technology dystopian where class reigns supreme. Elliot is a dutiful daughter, who is secretly breaking all the rules to engineer more food for her suffering farm. When Kai, her childhood love, returns to the farm, harboring secrets of his own, the angst sends my toes curling. Written with letters, this fresh take on a classic is a top tier pick for me.



And I Darken by Kiersten White – This gender flipped Vlad the Conquerer tale is dark and mysterious and charged with passion. Lada is our conqueror and her brother Radu leaves for the Ottoman court only to befriend the son of the sultan, Mehmed. But when Lada and Mehmed start an unlikely romance, it strains the bond between all three of them and the two kingdoms they’ve sworn to protect, which are permanent enemies.



Keturah and Lord Death by Martine Leavitt – A delightful retelling of Hades and Persephone that meets One Thousand and One Dark Nights. A tale of Keturah who meets Lord Death in the woods and to avoid his ending, she weaves a tale of true love but refuses the ending. Striking a bargain with Death, she is given twenty-four hours to find her one true love. It’s a wholly original story while also sitting on the foundations of other fairy tales. A spectacular must read.

Get your copy of The Wren in the Holly Library by K.A. Linde here.

Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.