Feature image @joannesbooks

For the majority of literary history, Greek tales of old have intrigued readers far and wide. Some of the most iconic stories ever told came from the scrolls of those who lived when Greece was an ancient world superpower, whose literature was as inspired by its people as by the sparkling cerulean waters of the Aegean Sea. These novels are either partially or completely set in ancient Greece, where a blend of fact and fiction keep stories alive for centuries.

Here are 10 Must-Read Tales of Orishas and Mythology Across the African Diaspora>>

Phaedra by Laura Shepperson

All her life, Phaedra has been cast to the side. Forced to be the bride of the much older and powerful Theseus, she’s accepted that she has no say in her life. But when her stepson Hippolytus assaults her, Phaedra refuses to stay silent. When she accuses him of rape, the country is thrown into a long overdue reckoning that gives a voice to those that have been crushed under the weight of the patriarchy for ages.

Stone Blind by Natalie Haynes

Medusa is a mortal born into a family of gods and is the youngest of the Gorgon sisters. When the sea god Poseidon assaults her in Athene’s temple, Athene is furious that her temple has been violated by such an act. But the goddess punishes Medusa for Poseidon’s actions. Now, Medusa has writhing snakes for hair and one look from her will turn any breathing creature to stone. She forces herself to live an isolated life in fear of destroying everything she loves. But all of that changes when Perseus heads off on a quest to capture the head of a Gorgon.

Clytemnestra by Costanza Casati

Clytemnestra was the most infamous villainess of the ancient world. Known for dealing death to anyone who crossed her, she was ruthless and fierce. But in a time where queens were either hated or forgotten, known as nothing but their husband’s accessory, Clytemnestra understood something no one else did-if you are not granted power, you take it for yourself.

Lies We Sing to the Sea by Sarah Underwood

Centuries ago, Queen Penelope’s twelve maids were hanged and thrown into the sea. Now, Poseidon seeks vengeance from Ithaca by demanding twelve maidens meet the same fate every spring. When that fate calls Leto’s name, death is different than she thought. She finds herself on a strange island with a girl who commands the sea named Melantho. Melantho tells Leto that the King of Ithaca must die in order to prevent a thousand deaths.

Atalanta by Jennifer Saint

When Princess Atalanta was born, she was left on a mountainside to die since she was not the son her parents had been expecting. But a mother bear took care of her under the protection of the goddess Artemis. Atalanta grows up wild and free with just one warning from Artemis-if she marries, it will be her undoing. Atalanta is offered the chance to fight with the world’s most famous band of heroes, the Argonauts. While proving her worth alongside the men, she is swept up in an affair. Atalanta begins to question everything Artemis has told her and seeks to create her own place in the world, one where she remains the fierce warrior among a sea of men while still following her heart.

The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller

Much has been written about the great warrior Achilles, from novels to screenplays. Madeline Miller’s The Song of Achilles is an intimate retelling from the perspective of Patroclus, the lifelong companion of Achilles and his lover. As a famous demigod, Achilles was misunderstood by many, including his own family. Through this novel, Miller reveals another side of him as Troy fell, while including characters remembered throughout history. From its flowing prose and passionate language, to complicated characters, The Song of Achilles is a page turner to the very last word.

Creation by Gore Vidal

Gore Vidal’s Creation is an epic historical fiction novel that spans centuries and covers the most iconic civilizations the world has known, including Ancient Greece. Central to the story are the adventures of Cyrus Spitama, a half-Persian, half-Greek diplomat living in the 6th to 5th Century BCE. On Cyrus’ journey, he travels the world comparing the religions and politics of the most influential civilizations at the time. Along the way, he meets Socrates, spies on an Indian kingdom, and is held captive in China. Cyrus’ story is an epic journey for the ages.

Ariadne by Jennifer Saint

While many novels set in ancient Greece center male protagonists, Jennifer Saint’s Ariadne is the story of a Cretan princess often forgotten in Greek mythology. Ariadne spends her childhood on the stunning Aegean island of Crete, nurtured by her nursemaid’s stories of the gods. From beneath her golden palace echoes the sounds of her brother, the minotaur, who demands a blood sacrifice. When Theseus, the prince of Athens, arrives to vanquish the beast, Ariadne betrays family and country to help him. Ariadne’s story is a spellbinding tale of family, duplicity and risking everything for love.

House of Names by Colm Tóibín

From prolific author Colm Tóibín comes House of Names, a novel of one of the most famous characters in literary history. On the day of his daughter’s wedding, Agamemnon, king of Mycenae, demands for her to be sacrificed. In deference to the king, she is led to her death. Agamemnon goes on to fight in the Trojan War, earning renown throughout the neighboring kingdoms of Greece. Three years later, he returns to Mycenae to a family in ruins. As a result of his own bloodshed, the entire royal family is on a path of violence. Agamemnon’s remaining children, Elektra and Oestes, must rectify their family’s legacy, even if it means committing one last unthinkable act.

Ithaca by Claire North

When King Odysseus sets sail for Troy, he takes every man of fighting age and strength to sea with him. What is left in the aftermath is an island of women. In the years of war, Ithaca was ruled by them. Penelope was barely a woman when she married Odysseus, her position of authority secure as long as he lived. On the rising speculation that Odysseus died in battle, she is being pursued by suitors, eager to wed a queen and acquire power for themselves. In times as tumultuous as these, Penelope knows one wrong move could plunge Ithaca into bloody civil war. It will take her cunning and the support of her inner circle of women to be the leader the island needs.

A Thousand Ships by Natalie Haynes

After ten long, bloody years, the war between Greece and Troy is over. Troy has fallen in a sea of flames. Instead of telling the story of male soldiers returning home after war, Natalie Haynes’ A Thousand Ships tells a story of women. Trojan women are sent to their sworn enemy, Greece. Greek women await husbands after ruling in their absence. The future of an Amazonian princess who fought on behalf of Troy hangs in the balance. Aside from mere mortals, the three goddesses whose feud started the war also make an appearance. Circumstances are as varied as the characters, and an epic tale of women unfolds as the novel reaches the last page.

Daughters of Sparta Claire Heywood

Sisters and princesses Helen and Klytemnestra of Sparta are the envy of Greece. But the luxury of their lives comes at a price. Still girls, the two are separated and forced to marry cruel and neglectful foreign Kings, brothers Agamemnon and Menelaos. But when their role as Queens becomes too heavy, expected to birth an heir and live a meek life, the sisters must push against society’s expectations of women, causing a ripple that changes the course of the next three thousand years.