Greek Mythology - Brilliant Retellings

Updated: 2 days ago






'For a friend with an understanding heart is worth no less than a brother.' - Homer, The Odyssey


Greek Myths?


If I had to pick my favourite genre, it would be a close call between murder mysteries and Greek Myth retellings. They do overlap a little bit! I've also been fascinated by mythology. Ancient Greece has always been my favourite (The Percy Jackson books may have been an influence.)


The petty behaviour of the Greek Goddesses and Gods are really fun to read. For anyone already familiar with the Greek Gods, we all know that Zeus is an evil asshole. They are all problematic children which makes reading about the Gods all the more entertaining!


I am not an expert at all - if you want to educate yourself more on Greek Myths, I recommend the podcast Let's Talk About Myths, Baby by Liv Albert. I've left the link below for you to explore.




Where can I get myself a copy? Check out the button below!




Book Recs - Where to Start!


I thought I would make a little list of some great retellings of Greek Mythology! A lot of these books are very accommodating to people new to the topic. This is by no means a complete list. These are just the books I have already read and reviewed!





The Song of Achilles

Madeline Miller



If you've been on Bookstagram or enjoy watching BookTube, you have probably heard of this title. What I love about this book, is that you don't need to be familiar with Greek Mythology to enjoy it!


Miller's writing style is simply beautiful. This book is a retelling of Homer's Iliad but with a stronger focus on the role of Patroclus and his relationship with Achilles. It's nice to read a book that acknowledges the strong love between Achilles and Patroclus.


If you've finished this book and didn't cry, you are officially hardcore. If you want to try out Greek Myth retellings, you can't go wrong with books by Madeline Miller!




The Children of Jocasta

Natalie Haynes



I've read this one relatively recently and loved it! What I love about Haynes' books is how she shifts the retellings to focus more on women. The writing style allows you to be engulfed in the story - you won't be left behind if you are unfamiliar with this specific myth.


Oedipus is likely a familiar name for many. This is the origin of this retelling but instead, takes the perspective of Jocasta. If you don't know the myth, that may make this book even more enjoyable!





The Silence of the Girls

Pat Barker



Pat Barker has another book coming out very soon - Women of Troy! I am so excited to read that book after reading The Silence of the Girls. Similar to Song of Achilles, this book is a retelling of the Trojan War from Homer's Iliad. This book is from the perspective of Briseis, a former Queen who ends up being kidnapped and given away as a prize to Achilles.


This book is brilliant at bringing attention to the hundreds of women who are looked over and ignored when it comes to the Trojan War. I loved Briseis after reading Song of Achilles so this book was such a joy to read. (You don't have to read The Song of Achilles first to appreciate this book!)





Mythos - The Greek Myths Retold

Stephen Fry



If you want to familiarise yourself more with Greek Myths before you read retellings, I highly recommend books by Stephen Fry. Everything is broken down into coherent short sections which are helpful as the Ancient Greek world can get a little confusing. This book is a rundown of all the key myths in Ancient Greece, with a brief introduction to the origins of the Olympians and their roles.


This is a great book if you just want to know the basics of Greek Mythology.




Circe

Madeline Miller



There are going to be few authors here that will feature more than once! When I read Circe, I knew I had to keep my eyes out for more of Miller's work. What's lovely about this book is, like Miller's other book, you don't have to know the myth to enjoy the story.


Circe is the daughter of the sun-god Helios. She is effectively exiled to a small island. Those who have read Homer's work will be familiar with Circe from The Odyssey.


This is certainly a favourite of mine! I love this particular edition.





Ariadne

Jennifer Saint


Another retelling that focuses on the women's perspective! We love to see it! Many of you guys will probably have heard of the story of Theseus or maybe you've heard of The Labyrinth which holds the fierce Minotaur. Saint's book is a retelling of the most important character from this myth - Ariadne.


She is the key to Theseus' success. It was so awesome finally reading a retelling about this woman. This is, of course, another book where you don't have to be an expert in mythology to enjoy.




Heroes - Mortals & Monsters, Quests & Adventures

Stephen Fry



If you've read Mythos by Fry and found it helpful, you should make time to read this gem. In this book, each section is divided to focus on a particular Greek Hero. You get to learn about heroes from Hercules, Jason, Atalanta to Oedipus!


Atalanta was my favourite among all of them! If you want to know why; I recommend getting yourself a copy.




A Thousand Ships

Natalie Haynes


I'm not done talking about Natalie Haynes! This was the first book of hers that I read. A Thousand Ships is a retelling of the Trojan War however it focuses on the perspective of the women involved.


As I've said before, what's awesome about many of these retellings is that it's acknowledging the major role women played in these myths. Once again, this read is perfect for anyone regardless of whether you are an expert or novice in the topic.




Greek Mythology - The Gods, Goddess, and Heroes Handbook

Liv Albert



Liv Albert is the podcast host for Let's Talk About Myths, Baby! This book is a fairly recent publication and is simply a beautiful guide to everything on Greek Mythology. The illustrator, Sarah Richard, did a brilliant job!


This book is the perfect little introduction for everything regarding the Greek Myths. I couldn't fault it.




Pandora's Jar - Women in the Greek Myths

Natalie Haynes


I guess Haynes and Miller are my go-to authors when it comes to retellings. This book, however, looks at the role of different women throughout the tales of Greek Mythology. It explores how their perception, description and part in Greek Myths have influenced modern society.


When you read about these women in classic texts, remember that they were written by men. This book is a great tool is readdressing the balance.




Troy

Stephen Fry



I am pretty sure that this book is now available as a paperback. Can we just take a moment to appreciate how stunning this copy is?!


If you don't want to read The Iliad, I highly recommend this book instead if you want a clear understanding of the Trojan War. It had a really helpful timeline. What I like about Fry's writing is how accessible he makes the world of Ancient Greece.


Stephen Fry's book, in general, is a great source.






The Women of Troy

Pat Barker



I recommend reading this one after The Silence of the Girls. Through the eyes of the women, Barker explores the aftermath of the fall of Troy with characters such as Briseis. As I have stressed throughout this blog, I am loving these books that focus more on the experiences of women. The writing style was simply superb - I preordered this book and was so relieved that it lived up to my expectations!





Zeus is a Dick

Susie Donkin



If you want to learn a less glorified depiction of the Greek Gods, this is the perfect book for you. It shouldn't be a surprise but Gods like Zeus were complete assholes. Susie Donkin has put together a collection of Greek Myths around Zeus, basically outlining all of the horrible things he did. There were moments of this book that did make me giggle - it was refreshing, fun and informative all at once!





Pandora

Susan Stokes-Chapman


This book is a beautiful blend of Greek Mythology and mystery fiction. This historical fiction follows Dora Blake, living in 1799 London. She lives with her uncle in her parent's old store of antiquities. One day, her uncle returns with a mysterious crate, storing it in the basement to keep it out of sight. Those involved in its transportation have fallen dangerously ill. Dora seeks to uncover what her uncle is hiding.

This book is the perfect balance of a well-developed plot alongside engaging and intriguing characters. I just loved the fact that the pet magpie was called Hermes - so clever and cute!





Elektra

Jennifer Saint


Despite being familiar with this myth, I still found myself deeply invested in how everything would all unfold. Throughout, I just wanted to scream at Elektra because of her blind devotion to her father - the horrendous Agamemnon. My feelings towards Elektra would shift between frustration and pity - despite all the facts staring at her in the face, she didn't want to believe the worst about her father. I loved how Saint brought to life Elektra, Cassandra and Clytemnestra. The story flowed effortlessly and I was once again impressed by Saint's writing and delivery.





Stone Blind: Medusa's Story

Natalie Haynes


I've been waiting for a retelling of the story of Medusa for ages so I was so excited when I found out Natalie Haynes was writing this book. I adored her previous works such as The Children of Jocasta, so I had very high expectations for this one.

This book eloquently challenges the monstrous image that the media has promoted around Medusa for years. Haynes doesn't shy away from writing about the reality of the Greek Gods - they were all absolute assholes who would punish mortals for the slightest offence. Although I was very familiar with the myth, I was couldn't put this book down. I wanted to punch Athene and Poseidon. The bond between Medusa and her sisters was so heartwarming and I just wanted to give Medusa a big hug.

This is a beautiful feminist retelling of how women are always punished for the crimes committed by men. This book is a must-needed read for 2022 as although it is based on mythology, its lessons are still relevant for the 21st century.


TW:

As this book is based on the myth of Medusa, there are mentions are rape and sexual assault.





Ithaca

Claire North


North took such a fun and fresh approach with this book as we got to follow characters from Penelope to Elektra through the eyes of Hera (Queen of the Gods). It didn't shy away from how awful the Greek Gods were - especially to each other. Although reading the petty exchanges between Athena, Artemis, and Hera as really entertaining. North delivered an engaging feminist commentary on the hardships and challenges women in Ancient Greece had to deal with on a daily basis.

I felt frustrated for Penelope, and how despite being the Queen of Ithaca, she's left in a really dangerous period of limbo since it's unknown to those on the island if Odysseus is alive.

You don't need to have read The Odyssey to understand this book - in fact, it might be a gentle introduction to the background of the story if you are planning to read that classic.


 

The Classics


It will probably feel a bit intimidating to read the classics. However, they are certainly worth it. I've only read The Odyssey and The Iliad so far and I found them both interesting. The level of sass in The Iliad...



Anyway, this is just a little collection of some great books on Greek Mythology that I think you'll love!


All of these photos are from my Instagram which you can find below:



You can see what I'm currently reading and my TBR on my GoodReads




I hope this has been relatively useful. I will certainly be adding more to this list as time goes on.


Happy Reading!




139 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All