The best YA books inspired by classic fiction

Who am I?

I have a real love of classic fiction and my first novel The Pretender is a modern-day adaptation of Mark Twain’s The Prince and the Pauper. I discovered this story as a child when a relative gave me a copy to read on the journey home from Scotland. While aspects of the story are frequently copied, the essence of the original novel felt forgotten. It’s such a beautiful story with many of the themes still relevant today that I decided to adapt it so a modern audience could rediscover and fall in love with it all over again. As an author, I draw a lot of inspiration from the classics.


I wrote...

The Pretender

By Katie Ward,

Book cover of The Pretender

What is my book about?

Life for Princess Isabella is far from a dream, trapped by tradition, protocol and the stifling burden of inheriting the crown, she longs to escape her shackles. After fleeing her abusive home, Sophia and Isabella meet at the palace gates. Realising how alike they look, they plan to switch places for one week. What could possibly go wrong? What starts out as a naïve plan to follow their dreams soon takes an unexpected turn with events quickly spiralling out of control. As the nightmare continues around them, it’s a race against time to stem the devastating consequences of their actions.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Always Never Yours

Katie Ward Why did I love this book?

One of my all-time favourite stories is Romeo and Juliet but since it’s been covered so many times before it rarely feels new. However, Always Never Yours is a strong adaptation of this classic as it provides such an original viewpoint. Megan is definitely no Juliet, she is the one before guys meet their ‘one.’ She’s used to never being chosen and instead focuses on her ambitions in theatre directing. However, to get into her dream college she needs an acting credit. Seeking the comfort of the smallest part in the play, she’s aghast to be cast as Juliet. I love a story that shows us the development of a character and this is a great illustration of that as we follow Megan’s journey of self-discovery and love.

By Emily Wibberley, Austin Siegemund-Broka,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Always Never Yours as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 14, 15, 16, and 17.

What is this book about?

It's inevitable - each of her relationships starts with the perfect guy and ends with him falling in love...with someone else. But instead of feeling sorry for herself, Megan focuses on pursuing her next fling, directing theatre, and fulfilling her dream college's acting requirement in the smallest role possible. So when she's cast as Juliet (yes, that Juliet) in her high school's production, it's a complete nightmare. Megan's not an actress, and she's used to being upstaged - both in and out of the theatre. In fact, with her mum off in Texas and her dad remarried and on to…


Book cover of Hood

Katie Ward Why did I love this book?

As an archery enthusiast, I always feel a bit Maid Marian when I’m practicing with my bow and arrow! This historical YA reimagining of Robin Hood gives a new perspective on one of our most beloved childhood tales. However, it doesn’t focus on Robin as we’d expect but instead on his teenage daughter as she flees the clutches of King John in search of the father she has never known. Finding herself forced into a world of criminals to search for safety. This is a great adaptation and gives the story a whole new angle which makes it feel brand-new yet still features the beloved characters we’d wish to see. I love that this book allows you to rediscover such a classic story all over again!

By Jenny Moke,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Hood as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 12, 13, 14, and 15.

What is this book about?

Marien and Robin Hood's daughter must join the Merry Men to save her parents.


Book cover of Second Star

Katie Ward Why did I love this book?

Peter Pan has always been a bit of a dark story, I remember as a child being quite concerned about how easy it was to kill Tinkerbell and why Peter needed his shadow stitched back on! Second Star is a modern but dark retelling of this children’s fable, set in sunny California and amongst the surfing community, we follow a 17-year-old Wendy as she searches for her missing brothers. Stepping into a dark world, she finds herself drawn to the Cove’s enigmatic leader Pete but she is also pulled towards his dangerous and drug-dealing nemesis, Jas. This novel shows how a classic can be used as inspiration but the author is still able to make the story their own and I always enjoy reading that.

By Alyssa B. Sheinmel,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A twisty story about love, loss, and lies, this contemporary oceanside adventure is tinged with a touch of dark magic as it follows seventeen-year-old Wendy Darling on a search for her missing surfer brothers. Wendy's journey leads her to a mysterious hidden cove inhabited by a tribe of young renegade surfers, most of them runaways like her brothers. Wendy is instantly drawn to the cove's charismatic leader, Pete, but her search also points her toward Pete's nemesis, the drug-dealing Jas. Enigmatic, dangerous, and handsome, Jas pulls Wendy in even as she's falling hard for Pete. A radical reinvention of a…


Book cover of New Girl

Katie Ward Why did I love this book?

I do have a real penchant for dark stories and thrillers that ooze suspense and intrigue and Daphne Du Maurier’s Rebecca is one of the best for that. I haven’t come across many stories that have adapted this so I was definitely interested in that. New Girl is a suspenseful adaptation of this classic. After the mysterious disappearance of an elite school’s most popular student, the new girl, who remains unnamed through most of the story, finds herself taking Becca’s place within the school and her friendship groups but is always aware she’ll never be able to escape her shadow. This is also a dual POV book. I enjoy both writing and reading from this perspective. This is an excellent adaptation of this mysterious classic.

By Paige Harbison,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked New Girl as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 8, 9, 10, and 11.

What is this book about?

It's hard to be the new girl--especially when she's filling the spot at an exclusive boarding school that was formerly held by perfect Becca, the girl everyone loved. Becca--the girl who disappeared and who may or may not be really gone. 


Welcome to Manderley Academy

I hadn't wanted to go, but my parents were so excited…. So here I am, the new girl at Manderley, a true fish out of water. But mine's not the name on everyone's lips. Oh, no.

It's Becca Normandy they can't stop talking about. Perfect, beautiful Becca. She went missing at the end of…


Book cover of Olivia Twisted

Katie Ward Why did I love this book?

Hands up who wasn’t in a play of Oliver Twist at school! This is such a classic and theatre favourite which I remember starring in twice. But this is a truly modern and interesting reimagining of a Dicken’s masterpiece. Olivia is an orphan, strong and independent but with wounds from her many years within the care system. When her computer skills are noticed she is recruited to Syke’s hacker gang of cyber thieves which masquerades as a home for unwanted children. Each chapter starts with a quote from the original which foreshadows the events to come and provides a nice correlation between this version and the original. I really love how endearing the characters can be despite their flaws. This adds a really nice dimension to the story.

By Vivi Barnes,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Olivia Twisted as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 12, 13, 14, and 15.

What is this book about?

He tilts my chin up so my eyes meet his, his thumb brushing lightly across my lips. I close my eyes. I know Z is trouble. I know that being with him is going to get me into trouble. I don't care. At least at this moment, I don't care. Tossed from foster home to foster home, Olivia's seen a lot in her sixteen years. She's hardened, sure, but mostly just wants to fly under the radar until graduation. But her natural ability with computers catches the eye of Z, a mysterious guy at her new school. Soon, Z has…


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Lethal Legacy

By H R Kemp,

Book cover of Lethal Legacy

H R Kemp

New book alert!

What is my book about?

Buried Secrets. A web of deceit, betrayal, and danger. Can she survive her fight for justice and truth? Laura thought she knew everything about her late husband before he died. Now, her life and the lives of those she loves are in danger. As Laura delves into his previous role in Iraq, she unravels a web of lies and deceit that goes far beyond anything she could have imagined. What was he researching? And why are people willing to kill for it?

Laura turns amateur sleuth. At fifty-nine, she must summon every ounce of strength to expose the truth and navigate a treacherous landscape where the lines between trust and betrayal blur. Every step she takes brings her closer to the truth, but also deeper into the dangerous realm of those who wish to silence her forever.

Can she triumph over the shadows of corruption and finally bring justice to light? Or will she succumb to the deadly grip of those who will stop at nothing to protect their dark legacies?

Lethal Legacy

By H R Kemp,

What is this book about?

Buried Secrets. A web of deceit, betrayal, and danger. Can she survive her fight for justice and truth?

Laura thought she knew everything about her late husband before he died. Now, her life and the lives of those she loves are in danger.

As Laura delves into his previous role in Iraq, she begins to unravel a web of lies and deceit that goes far beyond anything she could have imagined. What was he researching? And why are people willing to kill for it?

Laura turns amateur sleuth. At fifty-nine, she must summon every ounce of strength and relentless determination…


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