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May 15, 2013 BOOKLIST
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Oh sure, the so-called classics have proven the test of time by offering unforgettable characters, story lines, and themes. But you know what? They’re all so very, very old. And on top of that, they haven’t changed a whit in the centuries since they came out. Well, in the spirit of spicing up those musty reading lists, here’s a group of books that, like China Miéville’s Railsea, put a fantastical twist on familiar stories.
Another Jekyll, Another Hyde. By Daniel Nayeri and Dina Nayeri. 2012. Candlewick, $17.99 (9780763652616). Gr. 7–10.
Prospero’s servant spirit takes center stage in this liberated retelling of Shakespeare’s The Tempest. Capable of great malevolence, Ariel is no Tinkerbell, and her dreams of revenge lead to a famously cataclysmic storm.
The House of Dead Maids. By Clare B. Dunkle. Illus. by Patrick Arrasmith. 2010. Holt, $15.99 (9780805091168). Gr. 7–10.
Channeling Emily Brontë’s gothic atmosphere into a story filled with ghastly mayhem, this prequel to Wuthering Heights sends a girl into the employment of a feisty young Heathcliff. She’s unperturbed by the ghosts wandering about, until she realizes they’re all maids like her.
iDrakula. By Bekka Black. 2010. Sourcebooks/Fire, paper, $9.99 (9781402244650). Gr. 7–10.
Telling Bram Stoker’s Dracula entirely through text messages, IMs, e-mails, web pages, and Twitter feeds is something of a gimmick, but don’t forget that the original was played out in a similar epistolary fashion.
Juliet Immortal. By Stacey Jay. 2011. Delacorte, $17.99 (9780385740166). Gr. 9–12.
Shakespeare got it all wrong. Rather than star-crossed lovers whose lives ended in mutual tragedy, Romeo and Juliet have been supernatural enemies ever since Romeo murdered Juliet 700 years ago. But she didn’t stay dead, and their epic battle stabs the gold standard of forbidden love straight through the heart.
The Last Musketeer. By Stuart Gibbs. 2011. Harper, $16.99 (9780062048387). Gr. 5–8.
Isn’t time travel the worst? Modern-day kid Greg finds himself hanging out with Aramis, Porthos, and Athos 10 years before the events in Alexandre Dumas’ The Three Musketeers. Greg’s swashbuckling needs some work, but his rock-climbing skills come in handy in this action-packed adventure.
The Thin Executioner. By Darren Shan. 2010. Little, Brown, $17.99 (9780316078658). Gr. 9–12.
Based on The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, but leaps and bounds more violent, Shan’s saga sends the weakest son of the land’s best executioner on a quest to the mythical Tubaygat. Legend has it that his voyage will grant him invincibility, but only at the cost of his traveling companion’s life.