This has been previously posted on The Nerd Daily.
Hi, everyone! Long time no see! I’ve been so busy lately with uni and beta reading that I have ended up neglecting the blog and writing in general. But no matter how long my hiatus is, I always come back one way or another – this time it has been so long since I’ve put down my bookish thoughts somewhere that it started feeling like a void, I missed doing something that I loved so much! I don’t know how often I’m going to post, but I know that I want to write more often than I’ve been doing lately!
My first post coming back is going to be focused on mythology retellings – I’m going to give you some recommendations that I hope you will enjoy! Without much further ado…
Being fascinated by mythology while growing up means a part of you will always be drawn back into those enigmatic worlds. Mythology retellings have been the greatest way for me to revisit those characters and see them from so many different perspectives. In a way, retellings have given voices and depth to forgotten or supporting characters that had appeared in mythology
For me, I am grateful for retellings because they’ve been a great remedy to the problematic representation of women in mythology. For example, Circe, who played a small part in The Odyssey and was mostly perceived as a negative character, received a brilliant spin in Madeline Miller’s retelling where her actions and motivations were explained and she was definitely humanised by the end of the book. She became a three-dimensional character whose entire existence couldn’t be summarised as a challenge to the male protagonist anymore. She was her own character and her actions definitely made more sense.
Now if you’re as passionate as I am about mythology and want to see these beloved stories in a different light, then my recommendations will definitely be up your alley!
Galatea by Madeline Miller
Galatea is definitely one of the less known works of Miller which is a real shame because her writing is as exceptional as always and the original myth is one of the most complex ones out there in my opinion. This tale of a skilled sculptor who’s rewarded for his abilities by having one of his sculptures (the most beautiful woman) become real has so many feminist sub-themes, discusses idealistic love, and it’s so clever in the way it works around Galatea’s character. It’s definitely a must-read!
The Penelopiad by Margaret Atwood
Penelope is well known in mythology as the faithful wife, the one who waited for Odysseus to come home while keeping the suitors from taking everything she had. Margaret Atwood gives a voice not only to Penelope, but also to the twelve handmaidens that were hanged by Odysseus. She definitely offers a different spin to the myth as during the Odyssey, I have always thought of Penelope and Odysseus as a power couple if you will, yet in this book you become easily more focused on Penelope’s wit and her tribulations as she waited for her husband to return.
Her feelings become more apparent and it definitely seems more realistic than Homer’s account where there is no anger, no resentment, just happiness at seeing her husband back home.
Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman
If you’re very knowledgeable in Greek Mythology and now want to get a bit more familiar with Norse Mythology, but don’t know where to start, I believe this one might be a great fit for you! The tales are filled with wit, they introduce you to every character from the sneaky Loki to the almighty Thor, and I think they are targeted especially to those who haven’t read those legends before. Gaiman presents the basics, his material isn’t heavy like some other general mythology books and that’s why the book can be perfect for both newcomers and the ones who want to rediscover the Norse tales told in Gaiman’s playful tone.
Circe by Madeline Miller
I believe what Madeline Miller did with this book is astounding considering the material she had to work with. There are very few mentions of Circe in mythology, very few clues about her personality and her motivation, yet Miller managed to work with and build around these aspects. She crafted this godly character that is so in touch with her humanity and humility, Circe finds strength and resilience in her vulnerability. She has a quiet kind of power that is admirable and definitely amazing to read about.
Outrun the Wind by Elizabeth Tammi
This book deserves a spot on this list of recommendations solely for the reason that it focuses on Atalanta, a legendary huntress best known for organising races for her suitors and only the man who could beat her in a race could become her husband. Outrun The Wind has an interesting addition in the form of Kahina, who is the other main protagonist, a huntress of Artemis, and who clashes with Atalanta because of their too similar personalities. Recommended especially for those who like hate-to-love romances that are also slow-burns.
The Dark Wife by Sarah Diemer
Have you always been intrigued by the story of Hades and Persephone? Then maybe you want to try this retelling in which Hades is a woman and Zeus gets what he deserves while still keeping the best themes from the original myth. The romance is well-developed in this one and Persephone grows so much during this book, we see her go from a sheltered, inexperienced girl to a confident woman who knows exactly what her strengths are.
The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan
Percy Jackson and the Olympians is a fan favourite amongst mythology nerds and for a good reason. The plot revolves around Camp Half-Blood which is a place devised to keep the demigods safe from all the monsters that roam around and are trying to kill them. Even if it’s a Middle Grade book, I believe it’s suitable for all ages as the plotlines are very thrilling and you will root for Percy Jackson and his friends from the beginning to the very end.
The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller
The Song of Achilles is probably one of the most famous retellings, therefore it doesn’t need much of a description because most bookworms out there have at least heard of it. But in case you haven’t read it yet, you should definitely give it a try because it is such a raw, emotional and heart-breaking look into Troy and Achilles and Patroclus’ relationship.
Lore Olympus by Rachel Smythe
Another (modern this time) retelling of the Persephone and Hades myth that you can read for free on WEBTOON, which is ongoing and updated weekly. You will surely be delighted by the beautiful illustrations and the great plot that has been progressing very well. Persephone’s journey is so easy to identify with as she gets her first job, tries to keep her feelings for Hades hidden and subdued because he’s in a relationship, and struggles with her life in the city after being sheltered by her mother for most of her life.
The Faust Act (The Wicked + The Divine (Collected Editions) #1) by Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie (Illustrations), Matt Wilson (Colorist), Clayton Cowles
The Faust Act is another graphic novel that is inspired by mythology, yet another one where you will fall in love irremediably with the stunning illustrations. This represents the gods as pop stars that keep reincarnating and offers a great discourse into our fan and celebrities cultures. This graphic novel has a diverse cast, the characters’ personalities are also so vibrant, and they are all very interesting to read about.
Have you read any of the books mentioned? What’s your favourite?
What other mythology retellings would you recommend?