Best Books Inspired by Greek Mythology

Ever since I was a kid, I have been in love with Greek mythology.  I don’t know why they appealed to me so much – whether it was the magic, the daring heroes (and it was almost always heroes, not heroines) or just the idea that the world was way older than myself. I remember reading D’Aulaires’ Book of Greek Myths as part of my 6th grade unit on mythology and listening to (and this will date me – a lot) Shari Lewis’ One Minute Greek Stories on cassette tape while in the car. 

No matter why I loved these stories so much, but it has stuck with me through my adult years and now I am completely bonkers for a good retelling.  I haven’t read as many Greek myth retellings as royalty books (check out my post about those here), but I think I can speak with authority on this and it’s my blog, so there.  

Without further ado and in no particular order, here are some of my favorites:

Daughter of Sparta by Claire M. Andrews (YA)

A retelling of the myth of Apollo and Daphne.  But “retelling” is a stretch since Daphne is no longer the meek nymph who has captured the attention of Apollo and flees him only to be transformed into a tree for all eternity but a strong Spartan warrior tasked with recovering lost items special to the Olympians.  Read my longer review of this book here.

Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller

A retelling of the Iliad from the perspective of Patroclus, friend and lover of Achilles.  A beautiful love story that just will break your heart.  It actually made me want to go read The Iliad… until I actually opened the Iliad and saw it for myself.  Hmmm.  On second thought, maybe not.  Read my longer review of Madeline Miller’s awesomeness here.

Circe by Madeline Miller

A retelling of the Odyssey and the life of Circe.  She’s often overlooked in classic mythology and she is mentioned as only a part of Odysseus’ voyage home so it’s nice to see her in the spotlight.  Read my longer review of Madeline Miller here

The Firebrand by Marion Zimmer Bradley

A retelling of the Iliad from the perspective of Cassandra, the doomed seer of Troy.  This is such a guilty pleasure for me since I discovered MZB in high school.  I cannot tell you how much I reread this book all throughout my teen years.  Just thinking about it makes me nostalgic.  Sigh.

Lovely War by Julie Berry (YA)

It’s not really a Greek myth retelling, however, it is a love story that takes place against the backdrop of WWI as Aphrodite recounts her successes to her husband, Hephaestus.  It is a beautiful book.  One of my favorite books of 2019 about which I keep meaning to write an entire post.  Also, this is my blog and you can’t stop me.  So there.

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (YA)

A retelling of the Theseus and the Minotaur myth.  This book will haunt you and bring Greek mythology into clearer focus as every district is required to send tribute to appease the Capitol as they did for Minos on Crete.  If you haven’t read it, I’m not sure what you’ve been waiting for.  Read my more detailed review of the Hunger Games series here.

Lore by Alexandra Bracken (YA)

It’s not a Greek myth retelling but a story about a brutal challenge that brings the Gods and the descendants of their champions together in a lethal death match that will bring glory to Olympus.  Think – Greek myths meet the Hunger Games.  This is what to recommend to kids who have outgrown Rick Riordan (see below).  This is also another one about which I’ve been meaning to write a whole post.  Gotta get to work.  

Abandon by Meg Cabot (YA)

A retelling of the myth of Hades and Persephone.  I think that the other YAs I’ve recommended above can be read and enjoyed by adults as well, but this one, well this one may be the only one I think of as solidly YA.  It’s the first in the trilogy but well worth it if you love myths and lots (and lots) of teen angst.

The Night Tourist by Katherine Marsh (MG)

A middle grade story that takes a young teen into the Underworld.  I read this while earning my degree in library science – as part of a final project about young adult literature. <Side note: For those who are curious, yes, my entire project was on Greek mythology retellings for teens.>  Back then, there were not so many Greek myth retellings and this was one of the favorites (along with The Hunger Games and The Lightning Thief).

The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan (MG)

The book that launched an empire.  No really.  Not only are we introduced to the world of the Half-Bloods – the children of the Greek Gods, but Rick Riordan made a name for himself with this, the first in the Percy Jackson series.  It’s a great series (and by far my favorite of his many, many serieses) and worth a read.  Beloved by kids everywhere.

Ones I haven’t read yet but are shooting to the top of the TBR:

A Thousand Ships by Natalie Haynes 

Following the women of the Trojan War and recommended by none other than Madeline Miller, I bought this book on a whim at my local indie bookstore.  I need to move this one up my TBR, stat!

Ariadne by Jennifer Saint

Since Song of Achilles and Circe were published, there has been a slew of books about other women of the Greek myths.  Ariadne, the heroine of the Minotaur myth is front and center in this one.  You could say I’m excited, but that probably wouldn’t do it justice.

Daughters of Sparta by Claire Heywood (NOT to be confused with Daughter of Sparta above)

A(nother) retelling of the siege of Troy through the eyes of Helen and Klytemnestra.  If you don’t know who they are, maybe start with some of the other books on this list first.  Or read D’Aulaires Book of Greek Myths and Mythology by Edith Hamilton first. 

Amber and Clay by Laura Amy Schlitz (MG)

A middle grade book inspired by Greek myths.  Frankly, I don’t need much more than that to dive in.  I’m always looking for something to give my students once they finish with Percy Jackson and I’m hoping this might just be the ticket.

Deal With the Elf King by Elise Kova

A(nother) retelling of the Hades and Persephone myth and I am all about that. This was a recommendation from my new friend Katie over at The Bookish Curator. She and I are book bosom buddies since we have the same taste, so if she says this one is good, I am definitely reading it!

Mythos: The Great Myths Retold by Stephen Fry

Retellings of the Greek myths.  I have this one in audio and I’m looking forward to listening to it on my great American Road Trip (aka – my summer vacation starting soon.)

Abbreviations:

YA – Young Adult – literature most appropriate for teens, ages 14+ (although anyone can read and enjoy – this is a judgement-free zone. Read whatever you want. I know I do.)

MG – Middle Grade – literature most appropriate for upper elementary school and tweens, ages 8+ (same caveats for judgement-free zone apply)

TBR – To Be Read list. You know, that thing that gets longer each time you read this blog.

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