Recommendations: books involving Greek mythology

Raise your hand if you were the mythology kid in elementary school. πŸ™‹

I’ve always been fascinated by Greek mythology, but that interest has multiplied within the past year or so thanks to a little musical called Hadestown. Since yesterday marked one year since I saw Hadestown on Broadway (*sob*), I figured I could celebrate that while staying on brand by talking about some of the books I’ve read that involve Greek mythology.

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All of these books include elements of Greek mythology, whether they’re retellings or simply include mythological figures. I’m always looking for more recommendations, so let me know if you’ve read anything that isn’t on this list!

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Percy Jackson and the Olympians by Rick Riordan

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I mean, it’s pretty much impossible to make a list like this without including the Percy Jackson series. I can credit these books for much of my early obsession with mythology, and my first thought when anyone mentions any of those mythological figures is still always their Percy Jackson portrayal.

This series, in case you somehow didn’t know, follows a boy named Percy Jackson who discovers that his father is a Greek god. Tons of myths are brought into the story, and each of the books is loosely based on a famous Greek story (i.e. The Lightning Thief is the story of Orpheus, The Sea of Monsters is The Odyssey, etc.). I’m not sure where you’ve been all these years if you haven’t read this series yet, but you should probably go do that now.

Persephone by LoΓ―c Locatelli-Kournwsky, translated by Edward Gauvin

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This middle grade graphic novel is a loose retelling of the story of, you guessed it, Persephone. In this version, Persephone is a young girl, daughter of the magician Demeter, who ventures into the underworld trying to uncover the secrets of her heritage.

I loved that this version of the story focuses so much on Persephone (as the title would imply), exploring her character separate from the characters who usually dominate her myths, Hades and Demeter. To me, this felt like a Studio Ghibli film — the art is gorgeous, and everything from the character design to the storytelling itself feels whimsical and soft and lovely.

The Song of AchillesΒ andΒ Circe by Madeline Miller

13623848. sy475 Β If you’re a fan of Greek myths, there’s a good chance you’ve already picked up one or both of these, but, like Percy Jackson, this list would feel incomplete without them.

The Song of Achilles retells the story of The Iliad, told from the perspective of Patroclus and focusing on his relationship with Achilles. The book follows Patroclus through his entire life, including the Trojan War.

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CirceΒ tells the story of the witch fromΒ The Odyssey, and instead of vilifying her like many of the myths, it turns her into a fully rounded character. Many other Greek myths are woven into Circe’s story, which spans hundreds (thousands?) of years of her immortal life.

Both of these books are masterpieces, but what I especially appreciate is how they reimagine these stories that have become engrained in our cultural consciousness from a different point of view. Instead of seeing Achilles’ downfall from his own perspective, we see it through the eyes of the man who loved him. Instead of Circe showing up for two chapters of The Odyssey before disappearing, Odysseus shows up for two chapters of Circe before disappearing (one of my favorite fun facts about this book!).

Voyages in the Underworld of Orpheus Black by Marcus Sedgwick, Julian Sedgwick, and Alexis Deacon (illustrations)

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This story is told partly through prose, partly through poetry, and partly through illustrations, following a young man in 1944 London who is injured after a bombing. Everyone tells him that his brother is dead, but he believes that if he ventures underground, to London’s “Underworld,” he can find his brother and bring him back.

I loved the feel of this book — dreamlike and otherworldly, to the point that you never know exactly how much is real and how much is the narrator’s imagination. This doesn’t so much retell as the Orpheus myth as take inspiration from and incorporate it into a new story. It’s the kind of book that I could probably read over and over, taking something new from it each time.

Lovely War by Julie Berry

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Oh look, another Greek myth + World War book! The premise ofΒ Lovely WarΒ is that the goddess Aphrodite, after being caught with her lover Ares, tells a story to her husband, Hephaestus, to explain why Love and War are inevitably tied together.

Even though the main storylines of this book follow two young human couples during WWI, the framing device of the Greek gods observing humanity, sometimes interfering but mostly just watching, is what makes this book truly stand out to me. It’s a human story told by gods who can never fully understand them, which is always a fascinating story to me.

Lore Olympus by Rachel Smythe

Why LORE OLYMPUS is Your New Obsession - Nerdist

Okay, even thoughΒ Lore OlympusΒ is a webcomic, not a published book, I couldn’t not include one of my favorite Greek mythology stories of the past year! (Go read Lore Olympus here.) This comic tells the story of Hades and Persephone, though it draws in plenty of other Greek gods and characters as well. It has the feeling of a soap opera — incredibly dramatic and compelling so that you just can’t look away. I love the character designs and I’m always so impressed with the creator’s storytelling prowess. I just can’t get enough of this comic!

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There are still plenty of books involving Greek mythology on my TBR, including…

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The Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker

A retelling ofΒ The IliadΒ from the perspective of the women who are usually overlooked, particularly Achilles’ slave Briseis? I definitely need to read this.

A Thousand Ships by Natalie Haynes

Yes, this is yet anotherΒ IliadΒ retelling from the perspective of the women (I believe focusing more on the women of Troy?), and I absolutely want to read this one too.

The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi

In case you couldn’t tell, I’m a sucker for a Hades and Persephone retelling, so I’m all in for this YA version.

The Secret History by Donna Tartt

From what I understand, this isn’t a retelling but rather the story of a bunch of classics students (essentially doing with Greek myths whatΒ If We Were Villains did with Shakespeare?).

Summerlong by Peter S. Beagle

Yet another Hades and Persephone retelling? This one with elements of magical realism and set in my home state? Yes and yes.

Lore by Alexandra Bracken

This one doesn’t come out until next January but I’m very excited for it! To be honest, I don’t know a ton about the story, but it’s Alexandra Bracken and Greek mythology, so I’m in.

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Have you read any of these Greek mythology books? What’s your favorite Greek myth? What books involving Greek mythology do you recommend?Β 

x Margaret

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66 thoughts on “Recommendations: books involving Greek mythology

  1. I’m obsessed with mythology retellings too!! And I’m sooo jealous that you got to see Hadestown; maybe I’ll make my way up to New York once it’s safe to travel again πŸ™‚ I just added Star-Touched Queen to my TBR. Thanks for the recommendation!!

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  2. Ahh, this is such a great recommendation list! I really, really wanna reread PJO before the adaptation is released. I know I enjoyed them when I was younger, but I’ve forgotten everything about them 😭 Also, I, unfortunately did not like TSOA hahaha. I’m just not an emotional reader, and I didn’t let myself get attached to Achilles and Patroclus because I knew they were gonna die, so I felt nothing throughout my reading experience 😭😭 maybe I’ll have better luck with Circe who knows

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    1. Thanks so much, Caitlin! ❀ Same, I'm definitely going to be rereading PJO. It's been too long! Ahh that's too bad that you didn't like TSOA…I can definitely understand that reasoning though πŸ˜… I'm kinda a sucker for tragic stories so I ate it right up. But I hope you have better luck with Circe!

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  3. As a fellow mythology lover, I love this post a lot ❀ Percy Jackson is what really got me into Greek Mythology tbh πŸ˜„ I have been intrigued by Lovely War because a lot of people have loved it so much and it sounds really interesting! And I keep hearing such good things about Lore Olympus as well!
    As for the books still on your TBR, I loved The Star-Touched Queen, it was so atmospheric and magical πŸ₯°

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    1. Yes, I can definitely trace my interest in mythology back to Percy Jackson! πŸ˜„ Lovely War and Lore Olympus are both wonderful, I hope you enjoy them if you decide to give them a try! Ahh hooray, that makes me even more excited to read Star-Touched Queen πŸ˜„ Thanks, Caro!!

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  4. I’m currently reading the goddess test which is based in mythology & kinda gives me twilight vibes but actually good? πŸ˜‚
    Persephone looks so good though! I love the art style on the cover so if it carries on that way 😍
    Also I REALLY need to get round to lore olympics! Definitely this summer!

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  5. I looooove greek mythology. I’ve read the entire Percy Jackson series. My favorite though, has to be the song of Achilles! Favorite myth, probably the origin of sunflowers! and the myth on the origin of seasons

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  6. I love this post. Any time I can get my hands on a Greek mythology related book is a good day. I must admit, after reading and crying my heart out over The Song of Achilles, I’ve decided that its now canon. I will not accept any other rendition of their relationship haha. I’m so excited to read Circe too and I think the Percy Jackson series is such a fun and engaging introduction to anyone that wants to read some Greek mythology-based books.

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  7. Ahh I love this post! I love greek mythology so I’ve read most of these books, but I’ve never heard of the Lovely War before so thank you for including it and putting it on my radar! I always love stories where omnipotent being observed humans, like The Book Thief or Game of Love and Death, so this one sounds perfect πŸ™‚

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  8. Okay, look, I am 100% ashamed that I haven’t read a single thing on here but Lore Olympus. This is a TRAGEDY, made even worse by the fact that I a) have a Greek mythos retelling building in my brain and b) literally wrote Circe into my witches book as a powerful woman to invoke, EXCUSE ME WHILE I GO READ ALL OF THESE.

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  9. Ah yay so glad for some new recs!! Ofc PJO ignited my love of Greek mythology and I really want to reread them, I’ve also been eyeing Madeline Miller and Lovely War. And ah a graphic novel too?!?! VERY PUMPED. So very excited to read these ❀

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  10. I remember when I first stumbled across Hadestown while listening to a different musical on YouTube – I don’t think I took When the Chips Are Down off repeat for the rest of that week πŸ˜‚ So jealous you’ve seen it on Broadway!

    I haven’t read nearly enough about Greek mythology – I somehow managed to miss out on the Percy Jackson craze when I was younger and I’ve not gotten to either of Madeline Miller’s books yet, despite constantly saying I’m desperate to read them πŸ™ˆ

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  11. I just got Lovely War per my friend’s recommendation! I’m really excited because it sounds like such an interesting concept. Also, I will definitely check out that Persephone graphic novel! Thanks for this great list, Margaret!!

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  12. ma’am i absolutely loved these recommendations, my gr tbr is definitely heavier now

    percy jackson and heroes of olympus were definitely the reason behind my earliest greek mythology phase, too. my brother and i used to quiz each other on the gods while travelling lol (we’re nerds). on a slightly separate note, may i suggest the kane chronicles by rick riordan? they’re based on egyptian mythology and are equally so interesting!

    (also summerlong sounds so much like ‘a touch of darkness’ by scarlett st. clair except that’s mostly just a romance and not a serious retelling)

    great post!

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    1. Yay, I’m glad you enjoyed these recommendations!! Omg I love that you and your brother quizzed each other on greek gods — that sounds like a great way to spend traveling time πŸ˜€ I haven’t read the Kane Chronicles but I definitely need to, in my never-ending quest to catch up on Rick’s books!
      Ooh I hadn’t heard of A Touch of Darkness but maybe I’ll have to check it out πŸ‘€ Thanks for stopping by!! ❀

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  13. This is a very interesting list!

    Being Greek, Greek myth retellings are a hit or miss with me because I have certain versions of them ingrained in my brain and I can’t accept changes, so I mostly avoid them. I’ve read both Miller’s books, for example, and while I really liked The Song of Achilles, I almost hated Circe (weird, I know). My favourite myth of all time is of Orpheus and Eurydice and I’ve been looking for stories inspired by it (Hadestown is amazing!! I cry over Epic III daily, both versions), so thank you for the recommendation of Voyages in the Underworld of Orpheus Black. It sounds great!

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    1. Ahh that’s definitely understandable! I’m glad you enjoyed Song of Achilles, though, even if Circe wasn’t your thing. Orpheus and Eurydice has become one of my favorite myths, mostly thanks to Hadestown (I also cry daily about Epic III 😭) and I’m always excited when I can find retellings. I hope you enjoy Voyages in the Underworld!

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  14. First of all, you’ve seen Hadestown on Broadway ?!! With the original cast?! That must have been so great, I absolutely LOVE this musical! These are all great recommendations! I like the Percy Jackson series SO much and I’ve been meaning to read a Madeline Miller book for so long so I definitely need to pick it up! Lore Olympus seems so great too, I’m going to check it out!

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  15. This is such a great post!!! I love the Percy Jackson series and love how the greek myths are incorporated into the stories. I’m still in middle school, but when I was younger, I read D’Aulaires Greek Myths so when I first read the series, I did have some prior knowledge of Greek mythology! Have you read any other books by Rick Riordan? All the other series are so unique, and also just as fun πŸ™‚

    I just got a copy of Circe, by Madeline Miller and I can’t wait to read it! I’ve heard so many amazing things about the book, and it looks so good!!!

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    1. Thanks so much!! Ahh that’s so cool that you already knew about Greek mythology when you read the PJO books πŸ˜€ I’ve read the Heroes of Olympus series but I’m not caught up on Riordan’s other books…though I definitely need to!
      Ooh I hope you enjoy Circe πŸ˜€ Happy reading!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yeah, I’d been reading that book since I was pretty young, so it seems like it was pretty different experience. I definitely recommend reading Riordan’s other books though!

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  16. The Percy Jackson series was one of my first Greek Myths to read, and I love them. I also read the entire works of Illiad and Odyssey. I have been fascinated by Hadestown since it swept the Tonys due to it being based off of a Greek Myth: it is coming to Charlotte 2021 so hopefully it doesn’t get postponed

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  17. The Percy Jackson series was my first true introduction to Greek Mythology and ever since then I’ve always been fascinated by all kinds of mythology and folklore. Stephen Fry retells the stories of greek mythology in his two books Mythos and Heroes, which I totally recommend!

    I love his writing style and tone, and the books give you a well rounded picture of the origins of Greek Myths.

    Liked by 1 person

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