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Get It Twisted

8 Time-Honored Tales Take Dark Turns

By Ashly Moore Sheldon • October 30, 2019

How is it that zombies have found their way into so many reimagined classic tales. Maybe the living dead are just a perfect metaphor for the mindless and often cruel society that our protagonists often face. Whatever the reason, it makes for some entertaining updates of the familiar tomes we know and love. For Halloween, we decided to profile a selection of classic stories imbued with otherworldly enhancements. In many cases the result is campy fun, but a few are seriously spine-chilling. Take your pick from these eight twisted titles!


Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility was published 208 years ago today! The pioneering author’s heroines have been known to balk against traditional roles and decorous manners. So we think she would have enjoyed the cheeky pastiches inspired by her beloved novels. In Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters, Ben Winters builds upon the original premise with the charming Dashwood sisters looking for love on a mysterious island full of savage creatures and dark secrets.

Austen fans will take delight in Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. Author Seth Grahame-Smith disrupts the genteel village of Meryton with a mysterious plague. The dead return to life, adding new challenges to the already bumpy courtship between the headstrong Elizabeth Bennet and her Mr. Darcy.

Horror History

One of the great things about reading historical novels is the opportunity to refresh your history lessons while enjoying a good story. These two similarly titled period pieces present accounts of actual figures from the past, but take a bit of creative license with the facts. In Queen Victoria: Demon Hunter, A.E. Moorat presents the nineteenth-century monarch as an unlikely monster-slayer in an irreverent tale of palace intrigue and bloody supernatural mayhem.

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter by Seth Grahame-Smith depicts the sixteenth U.S. President as a young man avenging his mother’s death by a vicious bloodsucker. Lincoln’s mother actually died of a condition called milk sickness when he was 9 years old, but while some of the details may be fabricated, the story does trace a historically accurate arc.

Freaky Fairy Tales

Fairy tales often stem from dark and violent stories and many inventive authors have taken these portentous fables to a new level imagining elaborate worlds of dangerous magic and sinister forces. Marissa Meyer has written a series of fairy tale-inspired novels, starting with the excellent Cinder, which casts Cinderella as a teenaged android at the center of an intergalactic struggle.

In Daughter of the Forest, also part of a series, Juliette Marillier draws from the Brothers Grimm’s The Six Swans to create the story of lovely Sorcha on a quest to release her six brothers from a terrible spell.

More Creepy Classics

While we’re at it, here are a few more classics that have found new life with the undead. In The War of the Worlds, Plus Blood, Guts, and Zombies, Eric S. Brown introduces a host of fearsome supernatural creatures to H. G. Wells’s groundbreaking science fiction thriller about a Martian invasion.

This Dark Endeavour by Kenneth Oppel serves as a prequel to Mary Shelley’s timeless tale with the story of twin brothers Victor and Konrad Frankenstein. When Konrad falls gravely ill, Victor turns to the dark arts for a cure. Consequences are a bummer.

Do you have any twisted classics to share? Let us know! As always, we’d love to hear from you. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for daily book recommendations, book news, and more.

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