Retell, Reboot and Re-Imagine: Making the Old New Again

Whether you like fairy tales, be it Grimms’ Fairy Tales, which were originally published in 1812 and gave us such classics as Cinderella, Snow White, Repunzel and many others, or perhaps you’re a fan of the Hans Christian Anderson Fairy Tales such as The Princess and the Pea or The Little Mermaid, many old and beloved fairy tales we all grew up with that are now getting a make-over.

You can find a list of Popular Fairy Tale Retelling Books on GoodReads but there are even more than on that list.  And it’s not just books who retell classics, if you love television shows and fairy tales you probably already know about the show Once Upon a Time.  Or, if you like the classic horror stories there’s always the Showtime original show Penny Dreadful.

Classics are something we all love.  We know the characters and the stories.  But, we grow up and we know there’s more to romance or revenge and we want to know these stories from an adult world view.  We want them to take on adult themes, adult paths.  I remember the shock of Anne Rice’s Beauty trilogy.

Sleeping Beauty

It’s based off the old Sleeping Beauty tale originally written by Charles Perrault.  But, Ms. Rice sent Beauty down some dark and erotic paths.  Deeply erotic.

If you go to Amazon and search for fairy tales and romance you’ll get a very interesting and eye-opening list of re-told tales.  And if you love movies with this theme IMDB has a list for you of movies with re-told and re-imagined re-makings.

Recently I read a Dean Koontz book called Innocence.  To me, Dean Koontz is a thriller and horror writer, but as I read the back of the book before reading it I could see the thread of Beauty and the Beast.  I love that story.  I know it well.  So, I was intrigued to read this story again, but through the storytelling of Dean Koontz, with a new set of characters in a different time, but still with that promise of an old story re-told.  I read it and could not put it down.  I finished it and thought about it for a long time afterward.

Beauty and the Beast Retold and horrifying

Beauty and the Beast Retold and horrifying

So, in a way a re-telling is a promise of what you will get from a story.  The author knows the story.  The reader knows the story.  And, together they agree it will be a new story, but with similar elements to the original.

We can connect with our favorite childhood stories, but in a new “adult” way and this kind of retelling has been popular for years.


If you’d like to take a peak into a re-telling of an old horror classic, something along the lines of Penny Dreadful, but not exactly that re-imagining, you can download Time Out of Darkness for free right now.  The first story in this four-part anthology is entitled Mary Shelley’s League of Supernatural Hunters.


What is your favorite all-time re-telling of a classic story?

About Sheila Clover English

International speaker, business woman, author, mother, wife and owner of seven dogs. I love people, am an advocate for animals and stay up too late at night reading books.
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7 Responses to Retell, Reboot and Re-Imagine: Making the Old New Again

  1. Edie Ramer says:

    Sheila, my mother used to read fairy tales to me when I was a child. I love fairy tales! In Christmas at Angel Lake, my heroine tells the hero her own versions of fairy tales throughout the book. And I LOVE Michelle Diener’s The Golden Apple”. Her second and last book in the series, The Silver Pear, will be out soon. I read it already, and it’s wonderful!

    I’m definitely going to check out Innocence by Dean Koontz. Thanks for the recommend!

  2. Dale Mayer says:

    Hi Sheila,

    I appear to have a very short attention span when it comes to books. I inhale, digest, rejoice and move on. That means I can reread most books and not even remember that I’ve read them before. lol. It also means that reboots of old themes don’t matter to me. If the book is good, I’m good – first time or second time around. Now movies are different. I LOVE some movies and hate when they redo. One of my all time favorites is Godzilla. I’m scared to watch the redo just in case it’s horrible. 🙂
    Dale Mayer`s last blog was …Skin is here! A special new release!

    • Sheila says:

      I wish I were a faster reader. I’m so slow. It takes me several days to read a book. Though, if I am ONLY reading I can read the average book in about 10 hours.

  3. Mary Hughes says:

    Thanks for the free stories, Sheila! They look absolutely marvelous. I love a reboot, especially in a different genre or brought up to date. It’s fascinating to see actors from Laurence Olivier to Kenneth Branagh to David Tennant do Hamlet, each different but alive, and it’s equally fascinating to see how a story can breathe new, different life with a retelling. I have to admit, I’m especially fond of musical versions of books, like Aladdin, Mary Poppins and Sound of Music. Though that might not work for Grimms’ Fairy Tales, lol.

  4. Sheila, I love fairy tales. I especially love how they are really deep investigations of our psyche, told on multiple layers. I have written three fairy tale retellings, Mistress of the Wind, based on the fairy tale East of the Sun, West of the Moon and The Golden Apple, based on The Princess on the Glass Hill, and the sequel to that, The Silver Pear, is out in a couple of weeks.

    There is no end to the variations you can come up with on fairy tales, because the tales themselves can withstand any number of retellings in any number of ways, precisely because there is so much depth to them.

    I love Dean Koontz, so I will definitely get Innocence! Thanks for the recommendation.
    Michelle Diener`s last blog was …Cover Reveal: The Silver Pear

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