The best fantasy books that draw from older stories

Misha Handman Author Of Pawns and Phantoms: An Everland Mystery
By Misha Handman

Who am I?

So much of our culture and our fiction comes from taking older stories and ideas and reworking, blending, and adapting them into new forms. This cultural mixture has gifted us with some of the greatest works of English literature, and I’ve always been surprised and delighted to discover what people can pull out of older works and make. It’s why my first novels have followed the theme, and why I will always have time to check out a new story that builds on older ideas to create something new. 


I wrote...

Pawns and Phantoms: An Everland Mystery

By Misha Handman,

Book cover of Pawns and Phantoms: An Everland Mystery

What is my book about?

Todd Malcolm would be the first person to tell you that he’s no Basil Stark. He’s just a bouncer, part-time detective’s assistant, and brawler who does his best to get by on the mean streets of 1950s Everland. But when Todd gets mixed up in an arson one night, he’s thrown in over his head. With his friends Glimmer and Vance Carson, Everland’s ‘other detective’, Todd will have to contend with federal agents, angry tigers, murderous mermaids, and shadowy threats at every turn. Does Todd have what it takes to handle this case, or is he just a pawn in a dangerous plot?

The books I picked & why

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The Big Over Easy

By Jasper Fforde,

Book cover of The Big Over Easy

Why this book?

I’ve always had a soft spot for Jasper Fforde’s blend of serious drama and wacky humour, and his Nursey Crimes series is one of my favourite. Set in a world in which nursery rhyme characters live alongside ordinary humans, it follows Detective-Inspector Jack Spratt and his assistant Mary Mary, as they investigate the murder of wealthy investor Humpty Dumpty, dealing with the dark underpinnings of nursery rhyme society. 

The Big Over Easy

By Jasper Fforde,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Big Over Easy as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

It's Easter in Reading - a bad time for eggs - and no one can remember the last sunny day. Humpty Dumpty, well-known nursery favourite, large egg, ex-convict and former millionaire philanthropist is found shattered beneath a wall in a shabby area of town.

Following the pathologist's careful reconstruction of Humpty's shell, Detective Inspector Jack Spratt and his Sergeant Mary Mary are soon grappling with a sinister plot involving cross-border money laundering, the illegal Bearnaise sauce market, corporate politics and the cut and thrust world of international Chiropody.

As Jack and Mary stumble around the streets of Reading in Jack's…


Invasion

By Jenna Katerin Moran, Elizabeth Sherry (illustrator),

Book cover of Invasion

Why this book?

Jenna Moran is an under-appreciated author who combines whimsy and darkness in equal measure, created worlds that are at once familiar and strange. This bittersweet picture book is her at her finest, accompanied by glorious artwork by Elizabeth Sherry as she tells the story of a picture-book world attacked by an invasion of terrible, otherworldly things—Ordinary Objects.

Invasion

By Jenna Katerin Moran, Elizabeth Sherry (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Invasion as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.


Sherlock Holmes Vs. Dracula: Or the Adventure of the Sanguinary Count

By John H. Watson, Loren D. Estleman (editor),

Book cover of Sherlock Holmes Vs. Dracula: Or the Adventure of the Sanguinary Count

Why this book?

I have a weakness for authors who can seamlessly write in another author’s style, and The Adventure of the Sanguinary Count blends Conan Doyle and Stoker perfectly. Holmes and Watson are drawn into the tale of Count Dracula when they are called to investigate the mystery of a ship whose crew have vanished, adding their genius to the vampire hunters working to keep the Count from the shores of England. With Dracula Daily taking the online world by storm, this is the perfect time to look up another take on these classic tales. 

Sherlock Holmes Vs. Dracula: Or the Adventure of the Sanguinary Count

By John H. Watson, Loren D. Estleman (editor),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Sherlock Holmes Vs. Dracula as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The year is 1890. A ship is discovered adrift off the English coast, its crew missing, its murdered captain lashed to the wheel, and its only passenger is a sinister black dog. This impenetrable mystery is clearly a case for the inimitable Sherlock Holmes, but for the first time in his illustrious career the great detective is baffled. Clearly the crew have been murdered and dumped overboard, but what can account for the captain's expression of imponderable terror and his acute loss of blood, or the ship's strange cargo - fifty boxes of earth? The game is afoot, and Sherlock…

King Rat

By China Miéville,

Book cover of King Rat

Why this book?

China Mievelle’s first work, a retelling of the story of the Pied Piper from the point of view of those that he commands, is a dark and gruesome story that gripped me from the first page. Difficult family relations, grim mysteries, and an ancient fable brought into the modern worldthis book has it all! 

King Rat

By China Miéville,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked King Rat as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.


Iron Widow

By Xiran Jay Zhao,

Book cover of Iron Widow

Why this book?

Unapologetically furious, vicious, and brilliant, Iron Widow adapts the history and folk tales surrounding Wu Zetian, the first empress regnant of China, into a science fiction tale of giant robots, oppressive societies, and rebellion, featuring a team of heroes that fight back against everything their world throws at them. Appropriate for adults or younger readers, it caught my imagination and refuses to let go, and I can’t wait for the sequel. 

Iron Widow

By Xiran Jay Zhao,

Why should I read it?

8 authors picked Iron Widow as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in nursery rhyme, revenge, and murder?

6,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about nursery rhyme, revenge, and murder.

Nursery Rhyme Explore 13 books about nursery rhyme
Revenge Explore 62 books about revenge
Murder Explore 434 books about murder

And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

We think you will like The Mountains Sing, The Poet X, and The Ones We're Meant to Find if you like this list.