Briefing

5 of the best book-to-TV adaptations you can stream now

What's better: The book or the TV show?

When it comes to inspiration for TV series, books continue to be reliable sources of complex storytelling and memorable characters. Indeed, this year streaming services have delivered a bevy of book-to-screen adaptations — and from fantasy to romance, there is something for fans of all tastes.

Here are five great examples, all of which you can stream now:

Netflix's 'Bridgerton,' season 2 — 'The Viscount Who Loved Me,' by Julia Quinn

The Bridgerton series has been one of Netflix's marquee attractions since its debut in 2020. The much-anticipated second season debuted this spring and quenched fans' thirst for gossip and regency-era romance. As of late October, it is still the platform's fourth most popular English TV show, per the Netflix weekly ranking.

The series is inspired by a set of romance novels by Julia Quinn that follow the lives of the Bridgerton siblings as they navigate the drama of life at court to find love. The show's second season is based on the second novel of the series, The Viscount Who Loved Me (published in 2000), and focuses on the love life of the eldest son, Anthony, as he finally decides to actively seek a bride. Though Anthony is doing so more out of duty for his family than personal interest, the Bridgerton clan can't help but hope he finds love. There are a few differences from the novel in the Shondaland adaptation, but the series still captures the essence of the royal court that Quinn conjures in the books. 

Netflix's 'The Sandman' — 'The Sandman,' by Neil Gaiman

Fantasy drama The Sandman is another show that fans of the long-running DC comic series have spent years waiting for. Series author Neil Gaiman resisted an appeal to adapt it into a film in 1991, and subsequent attempts failed — until it finally debuted as a TV series on Netflix in August, Rotten Tomatoes reports. The show follows the first and second comic book story arcs.

Though it hasn't yet been renewed for a second season, The Sandman TV show has plenty more source material to draw from: The Sandman comics ran for 75 issues between 1989 and 1996, and are known for their fascinating world-building, dark fantasy themes, and complex characters. The series tells the story of the eponymous Sandman, also known as Morpheus or Dream, the king of dreams. But Morpheus' kingdom has fallen into chaos after he is held captive for decades in the human world, and the plot follows as he finally escapes and begins to bring order to both worlds, fighting monsters and people along the way.

HBO's 'House of The Dragon' — 'Fire & Blood,' by George R.R. Martin

After the controversial ending of Games of Thrones, HBO delighted fans of the series with news that a return to the Iron Throne was coming in the form of a prequelHouse of the Dragon, the spinoff series, debuted in August to a record-breaking audience of 9.9 million viewers.

Set 200 years before Game of Thrones, House of the Dragon tells the story of a civil war that leads to the eventual downfall of the Targaryens. Lines are drawn and sides chosen, as the right of succession to the Iron Throne is contested within the family. In the ensuing war, the Dance of the Dragons, the kingdom falls into the chaos of battle, betrayal, and sacrifice. 

Whether you're Team Green or Black, fans of George R.R. Martin's 2018 novel Fire & Blood have a good idea of where the series is headed. Martin's book is the first in a two-part collection that recounts the rise and fall of the Targaryen family. Beginning with Aegon the Conqueror, the history of generations of Targaryens and their dragons is summarized in this captivating history of one of the most powerful families in Westeros. 

Amazon Prime's 'Rings of Power' — Various works by J.R.R Tolkien

Another fantasy prequel entry this year takes us back to the sprawling world of Middle Earth, thousands of years before the events of J.R.R. Tolkien's beloved Lord of The Rings trilogy. Set in the Second Age of Middle Earth history, Amazon's The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power has allowed fans to familiarize themselves with the events that led to the creation of the rings of power. Familiar faces from the original trilogy, like Galadriel, return, and new characters created for the show are introduced. The first season recently wrapped with a massive reveal — hopefully, the first of many to come. 

Tolkien famously put an immense amount of work into creating the magic of Middle Earth. In the appendices of the final entry of the LOTR trilogy, Return of the King, he included maps, a chart of Elvish scripts, family trees, and other supporting information on the background of Middle Earth. The chronologies of the first two ages of Middle Earth inspire some of the events in the new show. The series also pulls from The Unfinished Tales and The Silmarillion, both published posthumously by Tolkien's son, Christopher Tolkien. The sources provide enough history for producers to piece together the story of what led the nations of Middle Earth to create the rings.

A new book that features Tolkien's writings about the Second Age, called The Fall of Númenor, is due out on Nov. 10, 2022.   

Netflix's 'The Midnight Club' — 'The Midnight Club,' by Christopher Pike

Just in time for the spooky season is the new Netflix series from the creators of Midnight Mass and The Haunting of Hill House. The Midnight Club debuted on Oct. 7, ushering in the season for horror fans, and has been trending in the top 10 TV shows on Netflix for a few weeks. The show's debut episode set a record for the most scripted jump scares in a single television episode, with a terrifying 21 such moments in one episode, CNN reports. 

The Midnight Club is based on the first book in a popular 1990s young adult horror series by Christopher Pike. A group of terminally ill teenagers living together at a hospice meet nightly to tell each other horror stories that end up taking on a life of their own. The series incorporates stories from Pike's 1994 novel The Midnight Club and several other works from the series. Pike told Netflix that the inspiration for the story came from a girl battling cancer with a real group of friends who called themselves the Midnight Club. The girl asked him to write a story about them, and Pike complied, though the girl died before she could read it. 

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