Many of my fellow bloggers will have lists today that feature top ten books to read if you like a certain TV show or film. I don’t watch much television, and my movie-going has tapered off as well. What does that leave me? I decided to put together a list of (mostly YA) books to read if you liked William Shakespeare’s The Tempest. I haven’t seen a theatrical production of this play in quite a while, but I remember loving the set, the actors, and the inexplicable magic of it. So, here’s a list of books that evoked a bit of that enchantment, though they’re quite different from anything the Bard would have dreamed up.
1. Lisa Mantchev’s Théâtre Illuminata series – Mantchev uses all of Shakespeare plays to inspire a magical new story series focused on the adventures of heroine Bertie Shakespeare Smith, who may (or may not!) fall in love with Ariel from the original Tempest.
2. Sirena by Donna Jo Napoli – A mermaid tale based on a story in Homer’s Odyssey, featuring a shipwrecked sailor and his new island home. The beautiful prose and heart-rending choices that the titular character must make have ensured that it’s one of my favorite retellings of all time.
3. Spindle’s End by Robin McKinley – The cover and summary of this one may suggest a simple retelling of Sleeping Beauty, but McKinley embroiders the tale and the characters find and create their own way. It’s beautifully written magic.
4. Lesley Livingston’s Wondrous Strange series – Livingston has played with Shakespeare’s characters and the land of fairies to create a modern, NYC-set tale full of immortals and supernatural creatures, with a healthy side of playacting.
5. The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valente – In this modern classic September discovers Fairyland for the first time. She quickly makes new friends, runs afoul of the powers that be, and discovers several different kinds of enchantment.
6. Jack of Kinrowan by Charles de Lint – A dark, urban fairy tale retelling that is notable for its bite and its beauty. I ADORED it as a teen.
7. The Game by Diana Wynne Jones – Could any list of read-alikes for The Tempest be complete without one of Diana Wynne Jones’ magical, puck-ish characters? I felt that this novella was the most… literary(?) of her works that I’ve read so far, and so it made the list.
8. The Moorchild by Eloise Jarvis McGraw – A story that plays on themes of isolation, music, and magic, written by one of the original greats of children’s and YA literature. Also, it received a Newbery Honor (so, it’s good!).
9. The Bell at Sealey Head by Patricia McKillip – A small, isolated town on the sea is host to a grand old house which is not all that it seems. The adventures that ensue are by turns fantastical and romantic.
10. Stardust by Neil Gaiman – Well. If you haven’t read this one yet, just know that it’s about a journey from our land to another, it contains a Captain Shakespeare and his merry crew, and there’s quite a lot of murder (or at least murderous plans).
What books would you add to this list? Or perhaps suggest a read-alike for another of Shakespeare’s plays!