25 Books Based on Mythology, Myths and Legends


mythology myths legends retellings books novels

Retellings of mythology and reimaginings of myths and legends are one of my favorite types of books. The same primal themes and storylines that inspired people to pass them down from generation and generation are probably what attract people to them now. I would say that Crice is probably my favorite book out of this list, but honestly there’s so many good ones. This list mainly focuses on books for adults (as opposed to YA books).

What are you favorite retellings of myths or legends? If you know of any more good ones, please feel free to drop a note below!

P.S. For more retellings, see Fairy Tale and Folktale Retellings for Adult Readers


The Silence of the Girls
Pat Barker

What It's About: The ancient city of Troy has withstood a decade under siege of the powerful Greek army, which continues to wage bloody war over a stolen woman—Helen. In the Greek camp, another woman—Briseis—watches and waits for the war's outcome. She was queen of one of Troy's neighboring kingdoms, until Achilles, Greece's greatest warrior, sacked her city and murdered her husband and brothers...

Publication Date: August 30, 2018
  
historical fiction mythology fantasy


A Thousand Ships
Natalie Haynes

What It's About: From the Trojan women whose fates now lie in the hands of the Greeks, to the Amazon princess who fought Achilles on their behalf, to Penelope awaiting the return of Odysseus, to the three goddesses whose feud started it all, these are the stories of the women whose lives, loves, and rivalries were forever altered by this long and tragic war...

Publication Date: May 2, 2019
  
historical fiction mythology fantasy


Circe
Madeline Miller

What It's About: In the house of Helios, god of the sun and mightiest of the Titans, a daughter is born. But Circe is a strange child - not powerful, like her father, nor viciously alluring like her mother. Turning to the world of mortals for companionship, she discovers that she does possess power - the power of witchcraft, which can transform rivals into monsters and menace the gods themselves...

Publication Date: April 10, 2018
  
fantasy mythology historical fiction


The Song of Achilles
Madeline Miller

What It's About: Greece in the age of heroes. Patroclus, an awkward young prince, has been exiled to the court of King Peleus and his perfect son Achilles. By all rights their paths should never cross, but Achilles takes the shamed prince as his friend, and as they grow into young men skilled in the arts of war and medicine their bond blossoms into something deeper - despite the displeasure of Achilles' mother Thetis, a cruel sea goddess...

Publication Date: September 20, 2011
  
historical fiction fantasy mythology


The Penelopiad
Margaret Atwood

What It's About: Now that all the others have run out of air, it's my turn to do a little story-making.

In Homer's account in The Odyssey, Penelope—wife of Odysseus and cousin of the beautiful Helen of Troy—is portrayed as the quintessential faithful wife, her story a salutary lesson through the ages. Left alone for twenty years when Odysseus goes off to fight in the Trojan War after the abduction of Helen, Penelope manages, in the face of scandalous rumors, to maintain the kingdom of Ithaca, bring up her wayward son, and keep over a hundred suitors at bay, simultaneously...

Publication Date: October 5, 2005
  
mythology historical fiction fantasy


The Labours of Hercules
Agatha Christie

What It's About: What do a lost Pekinese, a reputation poisoned by gossip, a man spiraling into madness, and a Russian countess in love have in common? Hercule Poirot.

Publication Date: June 1, 1984
  
agatha christie crime short stories


xo Orpheus: Fifty New Myths
Kate Bernheimer

What It's About: Fifty leading writers retell myths from around the world in this dazzling follow-up to the bestselling My Mother She Killed Me, My Father He Ate Me

Icarus flies once more. Aztec jaguar gods again stalk the earth. An American soldier designs a new kind of Trojan horse—his cremains in a bullet...

Publication Date: September 24, 2013
  
short stories mythology fantasy


Home Fire
Kamila Shamsie

What It's About: Isma is free. After years of watching out for her younger siblings in the wake of their mother’s death, she’s accepted an invitation from a mentor in America that allows her to resume a dream long deferred. But she can’t stop worrying about Aneeka, her beautiful, headstrong sister back in London, or their brother, Parvaiz, who’s disappeared in pursuit of his own dream, to prove himself to the dark legacy of the jihadist father he never knew...

Publication Date: August 15, 2017
  
contemporary book club literary fiction


Till We Have Faces
C. S. Lewis

What It's About: In this timeless tale of two mortal princesses- one beautiful and one unattractive- C.S. Lewis reworks the classical myth of Cupid and Psyche into an enduring piece of contemporary fiction. This is the story of Orual, Psyche's embittered and ugly older sister, who posessively and harmfully loves Psyche...

Publication Date: February 14, 2017
  
fantasy classics mythology


The King Must Die (Theseus #1)
Mary Renault

What It's About:

Publication Date: March 5, 2015
  


The Bull from the Sea (Theseus #2)
Bettany Hughes (introduction) Mary Renault (author)

What It's About:

Publication Date: December 7, 2021
  


The Children of Jocasta
Natalie Haynes

What It's About:

Publication Date: May 4, 2017
  


Norse Mythology
Neil Gaiman

What It's About:

Publication Date: February 7, 2017
  


Mythos: The Greek Myths Retold
Stephen Fry

What It's About: Mythos is a modern collection of Greek myths, stylishly retold by legendary writer, actor, and comedian Stephen Fry. Fry transforms the adventures of Zeus and the Olympians into emotionally resonant and deeply funny stories, without losing any of their original wonder.

This stunning book features classical artwork inspired by the myths, as well as learned notes from the author...

Publication Date: November 2, 2017
  
mythology non fiction fantasy


Heroes: Mortals and Monsters, Quests and Adventures
Stephen Fry

What It's About: There are Heroes - and then there are Greek Heroes.

Few mere mortals have ever embarked on such bold and heart-stirring adventures, overcome myriad monstrous perils, or outwitted scheming vengeful gods, quite as stylishly and triumphantly as Greek heroes.

In this companion to his bestselling Mythos, Stephen Fry brilliantly retells these dramatic, funny, tragic and timeless tales...

Publication Date: November 1, 2018
  
mythology non fiction history


Lavinia
Ursula K. Le Guin

What It's About:

Publication Date: April 21, 2008
  


American Gods
Neil Gaiman

What It's About:

Publication Date: March 28, 2017
  


Anansi Boys (American Gods, #2)
Neil Gaiman

What It's About:

Publication Date: September 26, 2006
  


Oreo
Fran Ross

What It's About: Oreo is raised by her maternal grandparents in Philadelphia. Her black mother tours with a theatrical troupe, and her Jewish deadbeat dad disappeared when she was an infant, leaving behind a mysterious note that triggers her quest to find him. What ensues is a playful, modernized parody of the classical odyssey of Theseus with a feminist twist, immersed in seventies pop culture, and mixing standard English, black vernacular, and Yiddish with wisecracking aplomb...

Publication Date: July 7, 2015
  
humor race tob 2016


The Odyssey
Homer

What It's About: I felt I needed to include this one for good measure, since The Odyssey by Homer is clearly the OG of mythological retellings. One obstacle in reading this book is that you have to choose a translation. I like the Robert Fagles one, but I'm hardly an expert on The Odyssey translations.

Publication Date: December 6, 1999
  


The Mere Wife
Maria Dahvana Headley

What It's About:

Publication Date: July 17, 2018
  


The Wrath and the Dawn
Renée Ahdieh

What It's About: One Life to One Dawn.

In a land ruled by a murderous boy-king, each dawn brings heartache to a new family. Khalid, the eighteen-year-old Caliph of Khorasan, is a monster. Each night he takes a new bride only to have a silk cord wrapped around her throat come morning. When sixteen-year-old Shahrzad's dearest friend falls victim to Khalid, Shahrzad vows vengeance and volunteers to be his next bride...

Publication Date: May 12, 2015
  
young adult romance retellings


The Golem and the Jinni
Helene Wecker

What It's About: Chava is a golem, a creature made of clay, brought to life by a disgraced rabbi who dabbles in dark Kabbalistic magic, created to be the wife of a man who dies at sea on the voyage from Poland. Chava is unmoored and adrift as the ship arrives in New York harbor in 1899.

Ahmad is a jinni, a being of fire born in the ancient Syrian desert, trapped in an old copper flask, and released in New York City, though still not entirely free...

Publication Date: April 23, 2013
  
historical fiction magical realism historical


The Once and Future King

What It's About:

Publication Date: Not Available
  


The Mists of Avalon
Marion Zimmer Bradley

What It's About:

Publication Date: October 31, 2000
  

mythology myths legends retellings books novels

mythology myths legends retellings books novels

mythology myths legends retellings books novels

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