Tag: mythology

5 Books Inspired By Greek Mythology

Greek mythology has a very special place in western culture. We see it in architecture, in art, and in the stories that inspire us. Terminology like a person’s “Achille’s heel” is so commonly accepted in the English vernacular that we don’t often give it a second thought. This mythos is ever present, and it acts as a creative muse (pun intended) to writers everywhere, and when there are stories that showcase Greek mythology in new and fun ways, those stories should be shared and explored.

 

Here are five stories that resonate with Greek mythology:

 

 

1. Circe

 

image via amazon

 

Written by Madeline MillerCirce was selected in 2018 as a Goodreads Choice winner. This book follows the titular character Circe, daughter of the sun god Helios. Though she didn’t inherit the her parent’s powers, Circe learns that she, in her own right, can rival the gods. For this very reason, she is banished to a deserted island where she continues to practice her magic and learn more about herself. She is ultimately forced to make a decision: will she ally herself with mortals, the individuals that she often sought solace with, or will she reunite with the gods, the group from which she originated?

 

 

2. Great Goddesses: Life Lessons from myths and monsters

 

image via goodreads

 

Great Goddesses is a collection of poems written by Nikita Gill, who is known for her poetry collections Fierce Fairytales and Wild Embers. Applying a feminist’s lens to these old myths and legends, Gill presents a new rendition of Greek mythology. As stated by this collection’s Amazon page:

With lyrical prose and striking verse, beloved poet Nikita Gill…uses the history of Ancient Greece and beyond to explore and share the stories of the mothers, warriors, creators, survivors, and destroyers who shook the world. A few examples of poems from this collection are Chaos to Nyx, Athena’s Tale, and Athena to Medusa.

 

 

3. AntiGoddess

 

image via goodreads

 

Antigoddess is the first book in Kendare Blake‘s series: Goddess War. The story begins with the goddess Athena growing feathers under her skin and inside her lungs. Hermes has a fever that is consuming his flesh, and the other Greek deities are suffering in similar ways. In order to find out why they are slowly dying, these two Greek immortals seek out Cassandra, a woman who was once a prophetess. They learn that Hera has joined with the enemies of Olympus in a bid for revenge, and these enemies are also falling victim to the same corruption that the Greek deities are.

 

 

4. The Goddess of Buttercups and Daisies

 

image via goodreads

 

Written by Martin Millar, The Goddess of Buttercups and Daisies follows the playwright Aristophanes, who is having a really tough time of it. He’s trying to create a comedy that will convince Athens to not go to war with Sparta for another ten years, but one inconvenience after another continues to hinder his efforts. To make matters worse, Spartan and Athenian generals have released Laet, a spirit of foolishness and poor decisions on Athens with the intention of sparking war. Athena, in an effort to stop this chaotic force, sends the Amazonian warrior Bremusa and the nymph Metris into the fray. This book has been described as a “witty and comical romp for readers of all ages.”

 

 

5. Till We have faces

 

image via amazon

 

While I try to find books and stories that have been published more recently, I couldn’t pass up adding this text to the list. Author C.S. Lewis wrote Til We Have Faces with the intent to retell the famous “Cupid and Psyche” myth from the point of view of Psyche’s sister, Orual. Orual is described as being physically disfigured, bitter and obsessively in love with her sibling. When Cupid falls for Psyche and takes her away, her sister is forced to reevaluate her moral stance and decide where, exactly, she will go. It should be noted that this book is allegorical, and there are some distinct theological undertones attached to it.

 

Cover Image via Newsela

 

 


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5 Books That Resonate With Slavic Mythos and Folklore

With the Netflix adaptation of The Witcher mere weeks away from dropping, an article about books inspired by Slavic myth and folklore seems more than appropriate. Andrzej Sapkowski’s The Witcher series borrows heavily from this lore, and there does appear to be a recent spike in fantasy literature that follows in suit. Granted, the spike itself is not likely because of Sapkowski’s work, there might still be readers of his series who might be interested in reading other work that pulls from the same mythos.

With that in mind, here are five books that resonate with Slavic mythology and folklore.

 

 

1. Ask Baba Yaga: Otherworldly Advice for Everyday Troubles

 

image via amazon

 

Written by Taisia KitaiskaiaAsk Baba Yaga: Otherworldly Advice for Everyday Troubles is a compiled book of advice columns written by Baba Yaga, a witch from Slavic folklore who is known for being maternal and helpful to some, but also ruthless to others. She lives in a house that walks on chicken legs, and she has teeth made of iron. She flies around in a gigantic mortar and uses the pestle to steer herself through the sky.

Kitaiskaia, going off of the fact that Baba Yaga is an ancient figure who has seen much and lived much, writes in the style of Baba Yaga extolling advice to folk who mail her life questions. Her words can be cryptic at times, which forces readers to really sit and think on what she is saying. Often times, her advice might come in the form of an allegory, and her wording also demands that readers absorb what she says and sometimes reread that advice column in question. Alternating between stern words for those who might need a wake-up call, to maternal words to strengthen those who are struggling, Baba Yaga provides advice that isn’t just applicable to the people who asked the questions, much of what is said here can be relevant to others as well.

 

 

2. Uprooted

 

image via amazon

 

Written by Naomi NovikUprooted is one part a loose retelling of Rapunzel, one part a dive into Slavic mythos and magical lore, and wholly birthed from the vivid imagination of the writer. Uprooted follows the main character Agnieszka, a girl who hales from a valley that is on the border of a dangerous magical forest that corrupts both people and animal, turning them into proxies that this evil magic can enact violence through. Every ten years, the local sorcerer, the Dragon, will visit the valley to choose a girl to stay with him in his tower, where he has her clean and cook for him in that time. The actual reason behind him doing so is revealed later on in the novel. While living with the Dragon, Agnieszka learns that she, too, is able to wield magic, and she is one of the few who can actually interpret and cast the spells from a book written by Baba Jaga, a spell caster who fell out of time.

Whilst trying to learn how to use her magic in a way that is entirely her own, Agnieszka is also called upon to figure out a way to stop the forest from corrupting and harming more people and, ultimately, swallowing up the entire kingdom.

 

 

3. The bear and the nightingale

 

Image via amazon

 

Written by Katherine ArdenThe Bear and The Nightingale is the first book in a trilogy, and it weaves Slavic and Russian folklore together to create this narrative. This book follows Vasilisa, a girl whose name comes straight out of the fairy tale “Vasilisa the Beautiful.” Arden’s protagonist is confronted with several life-changing obstacles after her father brings home Vasilisa’s stepmother–a woman who wishes to either marry Vasilisa off, or to send her to a convent. While dealing with her stepmother’s cruelty, Vasilisa must also learn to control her magical powers.

This story invokes creatures from Slavic myth like the Rusalka, a water spirit who was once a human, and the Domovoy, who is a household god. There are many other beings who appear in this book and are inspired by Russian and Slavic tales.

 

 

 

4. Wicked Saints

 

image via amazon

 

Wicked Saints, by Emily Duncan, is the first book in a trilogy that deals with vampires inspired by Polish legends and a pantheon of deities that can be traced back to a distinctly Slavic source. This story follows three protagonists: Serefin, a blood mage; Nadya, who can hear the gods; and Malachiasz. The world that they inhabit has been ripped apart by war, and naturally, these three main characters will have a role in defining its future.

As can be assumed from a world that is war-torn, there is a great deal of violence in this narrative. This is not mentioned here to dissuade potential readers, but it is meant to be a word of caution before you start reading. The characters have constantly been referred to as “morally grey” by both critics and Goodreads reviewers, so if you enjoy fantasy stories that do not fall strictly within the good-evil binary (I know I most certainly do), then this might be the story for you.

 

 

5. Finding Baba Yaga: a short novel in verse

 

image via amazon

 

Finding Baba Yaga: A Short Novel in Verse, is the second book on this list that Baba Yaga plays a key role in. Written by Jane Yolen, this novel is completely composed of free-verse poems that details how the protagonist, Natasha, leaves her family and eventually finds her ways to the witch’s house. Entirely told from Natasha’s point of view, this story primarily centers on how she gains her voice and a presence in her own personal narrative.

This is an extremely short read, and it can easily be completed in one sitting. Yolen’s portrayal of Baba Yaga, reveals her to be a distant magical being who, simultaneously, acts as a motherly figure who encourages the girls who come to live with her to grow into strong, autonomous individuals.

 

 

Featured Image Via shri-boomer

 


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Two Hugo Finalists Trying to Turn Silver to Gold

The Hugo Awards, the annual award for science fiction, will announce their winner later in the week, but for now, there are two finalists which are the first in their series—so you can start reading right now, and be ready for the winner this weekend.

 

Trail of Lightning, by Rebecca Roanhorse

Trail of Lightning

Image Via Amazon

 

Maggie is a post-apocalyptic Navajo monster hunter, and that’s just the beginning. When a girl goes missing in a small town, she’s forced to team up with a medicine man to travel the reservation, uncovering secrets and coming closer and closer to a monster more terrible than either can imagine. An immersive flooded world, filled with gods and monsters, and characters with enough sarcasm and attitude to bear the weight of a dark plot and devastated world.

This has already swept a few awards, and is sure to be a good pick for anyone who likes any supernatural or speculative genres.

 

 

Spinning Silver, by Naomi Novik

Image Via Amazon

 

You may have noticed by now I’m A LITTLE OBSESSED with Naomi Novik, but hey, the experts back me up. This is sort of a fairy tale, related to Rumpelstiltskin, but you always get much more than you can possibly foresee with Novik.

Since her father is running the family business into the ground, Miryim takes matters into her own hands. For better or worse, she’s very good at debt collecting, and ends up catching the attention of the supernatural—the icy Staryk—and it only gets more dire from there. You can expect gloriously lush world building and characters who feel like real people.

 

 

 

Featured image Via Pixels