Believe it or not, some of my favorite kinds of books are the ones that pull from stories I already know. Whether it's adapted fairy tales, re-written classic literature, updated fables, or modern Greek mythology retellings, I'm a sucker for re-reading tales I've already been told in new and exciting ways.
Ever since I started studying Greek mythology in grade school, I've been fascinated by the world of Mount Olympus and beyond. The idea of all-powerful gods and goddesses who were in charge of specific parts of the world enthralled me, the prospect of magical powers and fantastic beasts thrilled me, and the promise of immortality and ultimate power enticed me. From Edith Hamilton's classic Mythology: Timeless Tales of Gods and Heroes to Disney's Hercules to Xena: Warrior Princess, I consumed as much Greek mythology as I could, and just when I thought there was nothing left for me, I found them: modern greek mythology retellings.
Like other retellings and reinterpretations, books that use Greek myths as their inspiration take an old and familiar story and update to be something new, excited, and never before seen. Why bother rewriting something that has already been written, you may ask? Because in recreating a familiar tale, you uncover unexpected details that can change the story entirely. Plus, like all books, it's all good fun.
Ready to give some a try? Here are nine Greek mythology retellings that will change the way you see Zeus, Persephone, and all those other Greek gods and goddesses you thought you knew so well.
1'Summerlong' by Peter S. Beagle
A modern and very lose interpretation of the myth of Persephone and Hades, Peter S. Beagle's long-awaited novel is filled with as much magic, wonder, and excitement as the original tale. When the young and captivating Lioness arrives in Puget sound, the lives of long-time partners Abe and Joanna are changed forever. The mysterious young girl awakens something inside of them, but it doesn't take more than a summer season for Lioness's own dark past to start to chill the world around them. Inventive, sexy, and lyrical, Summerlong will make you fall in love with myths all over again.
2'The Penelopiad: The Myth of Penelope and Odysseus' by Margaret Atwood
In Margaret Atwood's updated version of Homer's classic The Odyssey, readers get to see a whole new side to Penelope, the hero's faithful wife, and her 12 (eventual) hanged maids. A brilliant account of Penelope's 20 years at home waiting for her husband, two decades spent fighting off suitors, ruling land, running a house, and raising her son, The Penelopiad is a unique, entertaining, and thought-provoking twist on a myth you thought you knew everything about.
3'Gods Behaving Badly' by Marie Phillips
In Marie Phillips's wildly funny Gods Behaving Badly, the Greek gods and goddesses you know and love get a dirty 21st-century update. In this story, Aphrodite is a phone sex operator, Apollo is a TV psychic, Artemis is a dog-walker, and their legendary powers are starting to fade. When two humans get caught up in a battle between two of the most powerful gods, the entire fate of the world rests on their shoulders, begging the question, who are our real heroes in the end?
4'Abandon' by Meg Cabot
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As if Greek mythology couldn't get sexier, Meg Cabot turns it into young adult paranormal romance in her Abandon series. In Abandon, Pierce, our modern day Persephone, dies, but only for a few moments. In the time her heart stopped beating, she met dark and mysterious John, the being in charge of bringing people into the underworld. Though she knows her feelings for him are real from the start, can Pierce really risk a life bound to the Underworld for him? She knows she's in danger, but she just might be willing to give it all up for John.
5'Oh My Gods: A Modern Retelling of Greek and Roman Myths' by Philip Freeman
Though Philip Freeman's modern retellings of Greek and Roman myths don't necessarily add a new spin to the old tales, they do update them in a fun and fascinating way that makes them accessible for everyone. Oh My Gods is a must-have collection for any true mythology fan who wants to learn more about Zeus, Hera, Athena, and the other rulers atop Mount Olympus.
6'The Lightning Thief' by Rick Riordan
Nowadays, you can't mention Greek mythology retellings without bringing up Rick Riordan's bestselling children's series, Percy Jackson and the Olympians. In The Lightening Thief, Percy Jackson finds out that he is actually a demigod when his mother sends him off to Camp Half Blood, a summer program for kids like him. From there, Percy's life is never the same as he goes on one adventure after the other trying to save the world he's always known, and the one he is just starting to love.
7'Mortal Gods' by Kendare Blake
In the second installment of her Goddess War series, author Kendare Blake weaves a dramatic story about a battle between god and goddess Ares and Athena and Cassandra Weaver, the human weapon that will define all of their fates. An exciting follow-up to an inventive original story, Mortal Gods will make you look at Aphrodite, Athena, and all the rest of the gods in a darker, scarier, and sexier light than ever before.
8'About a Girl' by Sarah McCarry
The third installment of Sarah McCarry's mythology-inspired Metamorphoses series, About a Girl reworks many elements from classic Greek stories into a beautiful and heartbreaking lesbian love story for young adults. When Tally, who has everything in her life figured out down to the very last detail, uncovers a secret about herself, she sets out to find answers. Along the way, though, she finds Maddy, a beautiful girl who is making Tally feel things she's never felt before, and everything in her life starts to change. A sweet story full of magic and romance, About a Girl is a fun read for fans of classic myths.
9'Goddess' by Josephine Angelini
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Another myth-inspired series, Josephine Angelini's Starcrossed books star a Helen of Troy character who becomes the unforgettable heroine of the fun and romantic series. In Goddess, Helen must face the gods she accidentally unleashed from Mount Olympus while simultaneously uncover the Tyrant's plans. A light but exciting read with plenty of action, adventure, and love, Goddess is a nice change from traditional Greek storytelling.