Hey everyone! So I was thinking about the classics remix series written by Authors of Color that Fierce Reads is publishing and how much I have been enjoying them. I also was thinking about the fact that I tend to really love retellings, remixes & reimaginings…but after I find out that that’s what they are since I tend not to read the synopsis most of the time (I just let my bookish senses guide me in what I decide to read, it’s really strong & hasn’t led me astray). I’m honestly not ashamed to admit this to you all, in case you were wondering, lol!
Honestly, I have shied away from books that are considered “classics” for forever. I got burned out on White/Eurocentric literature long before high school ever ended (I’m familiar with & have read Black classics, these are often not taught in schools so burnout doesn’t apply there). Who really has time to read books where they don’t see themselves at all, their people are depicted as “the help” or some sort of criminal (y’all know how these authors got down)? I sure the Eff didn’t and still don’t! It’s not what I want for my time and psyche.
A while back, I was asked when I was talking to a high school English class what I thought about using literature written by “Old Dead White Men” (ODWM) in schools now. I answered honestly that I felt it was time to stop shoving those narratives down students throats, put those cannons away and bring the literature more current. What could those books give kids now when they don’t reflect the times and their lives? If educators want kids to actually read and gain from the material then they should be putting stories in their hands that would actually interest them. There are NUMEROUS books that would offer the same lessons to students now that the ODWM used to offer (if we can really say they offered anything *shrug*). Lemme stop before I end up on a soapbox that I don’t have the energy to be on with this post at the moment.
With that in mind, I wanted to compile a list of retellings/remixes/reimagings that I had read & some that I have in my TBR (I’ll include links to blog posts if I’ve written about them). I’ll also add ones that will be coming out in the future so you can look out for them because it would only be right to do so!
- Traveler’s Along The Way by Aminah Mae Safi: This is a Robin Hood Remix set in Jerusalem during the Crusades and It is my FAVORITE of the remixes that have come out so far from Fierce Reads (I’ll say this loud and proud, no offense to the others that have come out, lol). The main character is a fierce and cunning Muslim Girl who doesn’t seek to save the day but does what she can for her people. I laughed, I bit my nails, I was completely engaged the entire time I was reading. Honestly, I felt this book deserved more hype because it was so good! I would HIGHLY recommend it!
- A Clash Of Steel by C.B. Lee: A Treasure Island Remix set in the South China Sea that involved the legacy of Zheng Yi Sao, the most successful pirate in history who is also a woman with an embedded love story between two girls searching for her treasure. Yes, thank you!
- So Many Beginnings by Bethany C. Morrow: A Little Women Remix that takes place on the Roanoke Freed People Colony. I wrote a little about it in this post.
- Where The Rhythm Takes You by Sarah Dass: A Persuasion Retelling set in present day Tobago! I wrote about it in this post!
- This Poison Heart by Kalynn Bayron: The Secret Garden inspired story that takes place in Upstate NY. I absolutely love this book and wrote about it here. The Sequel, This Wicked Fate, comes out on 6/21/22!
- Legendborn by Tracy Deonn: A King Arthur Re-imagining set in North Carolina. I wrote about this book here and the sequel, Bloodmarked, comes out 11/8/22!
- Pride by Ibi Zoboi: A Pride & Prejudice Remix set in a quickly gentrifying Brooklyn. One of the things I loved about this book is that Zuri’s parents are Dominican & Haitian (which is rather revolutionary considering the history between Haiti & The Dominican Republic). This book is paced so brilliantly that I finished it in one day and would be a great book to teach since it is so engaging.
- Dark And Deepest Red by Anna-Marie McLemore: The Red Shoes Retelling. This story takes place in different places over varying time lines and with multiple perspectives. It has that quintessential magical element that I love about Anna-Marie’s work.
- Darling by K. Ancrum: A Peter Pan Re-imaging that is dark at points. This story takes place in Chicago and centers Wendy Darling, a Black Girl, who goes out for a night with the mysterious Peter and things don’t go any bit of the way anyone thinks they should.
- Within These Wicked Walls by Lauren Blackwood: A Jane Eyre Retelling that is Ethiopian Inspired. This book is in my TBR and I’m itching to get to it (and have been for so long).
- Roman And Jewel by Dana L. Davis: A Romeo And Juliet inspired Hip-Hopera. I’ve been dying to read this book and hope to get to it soon! I know I would’ve wanted to read this instead of the original.
- Lost In The Never Woods by Aiden Thomas: A Peter Pan Re-imagining set in Oregon. This is another that is on my radar that I hope to get to!
- These Violent Delights & Our Violent Ends by Chloe Gong: Romeo and Juliet Inspired duology set in 1920s Shanghai. This is also on my radar!
- What Souls Are Made Of by Tasha Suri: A Wuthering Heights Remix. This book is out on 7/5/22 and it takes place in England with a main character who is from India. This is in my TBR & I can’t wait to read it!
- Self-Made Boys by Anna-Marie McLemore: The Great Gatsby Remix. This is slated to come out 9/6/22. I hope there will be more information out about it soon but I did receive confirmation that it’s happening! I’m a fan of Anna-Marie’s work & can’t wait for it!
- My Dear Henry by Kalynn Bayron: A Jekyll & Hyde Remix. This was recently announced and it comes out on 2/28/23 (I’m crying about this long wait)! Here is the cover reveal tweet! Please believe that I’m getting it on NetGalley the moment it becomes available!
This is only a short list of some books that I know of but I also have the utmost faith that more retellings, remixes & re-imaginings will be written in the future by Authors Of Color. I think it is way past time for us to see ourselves reflected in “classic” literature and that kids should have these stories in their course work rather than those by ODWM. It’s also about rewriting the narratives that we didn’t exist in certain time periods (if written in the past) as well as making these stories more current & relevant to today’s readers.
Have you read any of the ones that I’ve listed? Are there any that I’ve missed? I do know there are some adult retellings but I’ve chosen to keep this post YA focused! Let me know in the comments or on social media! Holler at me on Instagram @bookishgirlmagic, Twitter @bookishgrlmagic and Clubhouse @bookishgrlmagic where you can find me mostly in book centered clubs/rooms (primarily on Tuesdays and Fridays). Also please subscribe to this blog if you haven’t already because it makes me feel like I just read a really good retelling/remix/reimagining! Until the next post, I’m sending y’all bookish love and wishing you happy reading!