From Book to Screen: Adaptations for the New Year

The new year may have just started, and we might still be in a post-holiday fog, but TV and movie adaptations don’t sleep! Particularly not when they’re set to debut on streaming services, which can be accessed from the comfort of our own homes (and don’t have to compete with the snow and slush to get people to a theatre). The early months of 2023 already promise an intriguing roster of new adaptations (not to mention new seasons of returning faves like You and Shadow and Bone). Below I’ve picked out five adaptations I’ve got my eye on with release dates set between January and March. Grab a copy of the books at your local branch before they hit the big or small screen!

January 4: The Lying Life of Adults by Elena Ferrante 

The latest Italian-language adaptation of Elena Ferrante’s work is set to air today on Netflix. Say what you will about Netflix’s (baffling, unsustainable) business model, one thing they’re good for: investing in and promoting international talent. Treading familiar territory for those who have read and/or watched Ferrante’s My Brilliant Friend (aka the Neapolitan series), The Lying Life of Adults explores the class divide in Naples, only this time it’s the 1990s (the trailer features the songs “Celebrity Skin” by Hole—an iconic 90s riot grrrl banger—and “E Mo E Mo” by Peppino Di Capri, the requisite 80s Italo-Disco song for any Italian media). When young Giovanna’s father remarks that she is starting to resemble her estranged aunt Vittoria, she decides to set out and find her lost family member. Her journey takes her from her middle-class, bourgeois hilltop neighbourhood to the more vulgar quarters down in the city’s depths. Along the way questions of truth and the nature of storytelling arise: who is lying, what counts as a lie, and why?  

Available in print and on Overdrive and Hoopla.  

January 6: The Pale Blue Eye by Louis Bayard 

If you enjoyed Netflix’s adaptation of The Alienist by Caleb Carr, the 1890s-set mystery in which New York City police commissioner Theodore Roosevelt (yes, that one) enlists the help of a psychiatrist to solve a series of grisly murders, you’ll probably want to check out The Pale Blue Eye. In this eerie 1830s mystery, retired New York police detective Augustus Landor teams up with a young West Point Academy cadet, a man with a drinking problem and a collection of poems: Edgar Allan Poe, he of The Raven fame. It’s a stretch, for sure. Nothing in the real Poe’s history suggests he’d be adept at murder investigations, beyond an affinity for the macabre. But hey, that’s what fiction is for! And it certainly does look atmospheric and intriguing. Plus, the cast is stacked with the likes of Christian Bale, Gillian Anderson, and Robert Duvall.  

Available on Hoopla.  

January 8: The Witching Hour by Anne Rice 

Hello, it’s me, your local Interview With the Vampire stan, here to report on the newest addition to AMC’s ARCU (Anne Rice Cinematic Universe): Mayfair Witches, based on The Lives of the Mayfair Witches book series. The first book of the series (called The Witching Hour) finds neurosurgeon Rowan Mayfair discovering her familial connection to a long line of witches. That’s the short of it, but of course, in Anne Rice fashion, the story goes in wild directions. Fans of the Southern Gothic aesthetic are in for a treat, as the show is filmed in New Orleans and features a beautiful old vine-covered mansion, as well as spooky seances and witchy shenanigans. I have to say I’m a bit worried about the lead playing Rowan, as I’ve never found her a very convincing actor. But I am prepared to eat my words on that, as I also doubted both Jacob Anderson and Sam Reid as Louis and Lestat and they turned in my favourite TV performances of the year. So here’s hoping I’m wrong again! Fun fact: this show was teased in the first episode of Interview With the Vampire, when a character jokes that there are “plenty of brooms down at the Mayfair sisters’ home.” If this show is half as good as Interview, we’ll be sitting pretty.  

Available in print and on Overdrive.  

February 3: The Cabin at the End of the World by Paul Tremblay 

Adapted under the title Knock at the Cabin, this horror-thriller by author Paul Tremblay is being brought to the big screen by none other than horror legend M. Night Shyamalan (legendarily good, or legendarily bad? You decide!). The story focuses on seven-year-old Wen, who is vacationing at a remote cabin with her dads when a group of threatening strangers come knocking. But it’s not exactly a The Strangers situation; rather, the intruders insist that they need Wen’s help to save the world. Should the family believe these odd strangers? If the choice is between saving your family, and saving the world, what should you do? The film’s cast is a fun hodge-podge, including Dave Bautista (aka Marvel’s Drax), Jonathan Groff (Frozen’s Kristoff), Rupert Grint (Ron Weasley), and tiny little newcomer Kristen Cui as Wen. Now the question is, will Knock at the Cabin be more akin to The Sixth Sense and Signs, or…all of Shyamalan’s other movies? We’ll have to wait and see! Also in the works is an adaptation for A Head Full of Ghosts by Tremblay (directed by Scott Cooper, director of The Pale Blue Eye), which if done well has the potential to be super scary.  

Available in print and on Overdrive and Hoopla.  

March 3: Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid  

The massively popular Taylor Jenkins Reid novel is getting the television treatment this March, courtesy of Reese Witherspoon’s production company and Amazon Studios. This makes sense to me, as I’ve always wondered why Daisy Jones and the Six was published as a novel at all. It’s written in script format, like a play, which makes it a very quick read but lacking in the descriptive, non-dialogue elements that make a novel (I’ve heard that the audiobook, which is read by a full cast, is a much more immersive experience than the paper version). The story isn’t exactly original, but it’s a lot of fun: a willowy young songstress with a real je ne sais quoi takes the LA music scene by storm in the 1970s, eventually forming a rock band called Daisy Jones and the Six. During the band’s bumpy road to stardom, the titular Daisy Jones becomes entangled with the band’s brooding singer Billy Dunne. It’s essentially Fleetwood Mac fanfiction—not that that’s a bad thing! A significant part of the novel hinges on the band’s smash hit songs, which is partly why I think it’ll work better as a show: hopefully, we’ll actually be able to hear them! The cast is exciting as well, as Riley Keough (aka Elvis Presley’s granddaughter) has been cast as the enigmatic lead, and Sam Claflin is serving Billy Crudup-in-Almost Famous vibes as Billy Dunne (may he have a scene as iconic as “I am a golden god!”).  

Available in print and on Overdrive.  

About Alyssia

Alyssia is an Adult Services Librarian at the Vaughan Public Libraries. Nothing makes her happier than a great book and a great cup of coffee. She loves fiction in all formats - books, movies, television, you name it - and is always on the lookout for awesome new music.  |  Meet the team