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From the beginning of time, stories have united generations through shared history, culture, and experience. This rings especially true for mythology, particularly the oral storytelling tradition of ancient myths, legends and fables. Centuries later, contemporary authors have written stunning retellings of the greatest stories the world has known from cultures all over the globe. These ancient mythology retellings bring stories of yore to the pages of novels available to today’s reader.

Kaikeyi by Vaishnavi Patel

At the center of this Hindu mythology retelling is Kaikeyi, sole daughter of the kingdom of Kekaya. Before she can talk, her caregivers regale her with stories of the gods, in their benevolence and power. From their hands comes every good thing—the beginning of civilization, immortality, the prosperity of kingdoms, and the power of those worthy to bear it. When Kaikeyi’s mother is banished by her father, everything she was taught about the heavens and the earth seems inconsistent with reality. In her desire and fight for independence, Kaikeyi transforms from a princess to a revered warrior, diplomat, and queen. The fight between good and evil that lies ahead will take every ounce of strength she has, in defense of kingdom, family, and herself.

Daughter of the Moon Goddess by Sue Lynn Tan

This debut fantasy novel retells the legend of Chang’e, the Chinese moon goddess. Throughout her childhood on the moon, Xingyin spends her days in solitude. In her tranquil surroundings, she is completely unaware that she is being hidden from a vengeful emperor who is angry at her mother for stealing his elixir of immortality. When Xingyin’s own powers are revealed, she must flee to the Celestial Kingdom, forced to leave her mother behind. In her new home, alone, afraid, and downcast, she hides her identity and learns alongside the emperor’s son. As love blooms between them, Xingyin faces the greatest challenge of her life—lose all she loves, or cast the kingdom to a place of no return.

Circe by Madeline Miller

Daughter of Helios, god of the sun and mightiest of the Titans, Circe is a misfit, left out of the fold. Unlike her extraordinary parents, she is without powers or beguiling beauty. The world of the gods does not suit her. Instead, she turns to the world of mortals for companionship—a choice that will reveal she does, in fact, have supernatural power. Witchcraft places Circe in the powerful position to make men into monsters, capable of challenging even the gods. Her newfound ability banishes her to an island, where she meets the most famous mythological figures of all time and makes enemies with the most vengeful of the Olympians. In the end, she must choose the immortal realm, or the mortals she has grown to care for deeply.

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Love in Color by Bolu Babalola

From the author of Honey and Spice comes a debut short story collection, Love in Color. Within its pages are stories set all around the world, but the geographical focus is West Africa. In each story, readers are introduced to characters whose ties to the immortal, mythical world complicate their lives immensely, especially in the pursuit of love. A Nigerian goddess longs to be seen for who she truly is. Eros, son of Aphrodite, spends his days searching for love. He finds it in Psyche, a woman cursed in her pursuit of it. The two cross paths in an unexpected, contemporized way in Babalola’s rendition. As much as each story differs, they all bear a striking similarity: female characters retain more agency than in the ancient myths of old.

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The Girl Who Fell Beneath the Sea by Axie Oh

Mina’s homeland has been ravaged by storms since before anyone can remember. A tragedy such as this can only be the work of the angered Sea God—once their protector, now their ruin. Each year, the people sacrifice a maiden to the Sea God, hoping for the day he will choose the “true bride” and their suffering will end. Mina’s brother is in love with Shim Cheong, who is believed to be the “true bride” and is slated to be sacrificed next. Mina throws herself into the sea on that fateful night in Shim Cheong’s place, plunging to the depths of a mythical world where lesser gods and beasts coexist. When Mina finds the Sea God, he is in a deep sleep. It’s clear that he isn’t behind her people’s suffering. But if he isn’t, who is?

Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi

In the land of Orïsha from Nigerian mythology, Zélie wields a power she must hide. There was a time when Orïsha was full of magic from people like her, but the monarchy has changed everything. Eager for power and angry at anything that could threaten him, the king ordered for all the maji to be killed. Zélie’s mother was one of them. In the echoes of grief, Zélie has one chance to bring back magic with the help of a rogue princess. Along the way, they must outrun forces aiming to destroy them and Zélie finds love in the most unexpected of places.

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The Witch’s Heart by Genevieve Gornichec

Reimagining Norse mythology, a witch named Angrboda flees from a burning, punished by Odin for not providing information about the future. Left powerless and vulnerable, Angrboda meets Loki, and her initial distrust soon transforms into a deep and abiding love. Angrboda is determined to keep her new family safe from Odin, so her and Loki raise their three unusual children at the farthest reaches of the forest. But when her powers return, she must choose between accepting their fate, or striving to create a new one.

Warriors, Witches, Women: Mythology’s Fiercest Females by Kate Hodges

These are the women that go beyond the long-haired, smiling stereotype. From Voodoo goddesses, blood-sucking temptresses, and feminist fairies, these women’s stories have survived for millenia. Placing powerful, rebellious women at the center of their own –  sometimes overlooked – stories, providing a narrative that everyone will be entranced by.

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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.

Gods of Jade and Shadow by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Rooted in Mexican mythology, this story follows Casiopea Tun, a young girl with a dream of leaving her small town in Mexico and creating a life of her own. When she finds a mysterious box in her grandfather’s room, she accidentally frees the spirit of a Mayan god of death, who needs her help. Casiopea must travel across the country from Yucatan to Mexico City, helping the god to recover his throne, claiming he can make her dreams come true. But if Casiopea does not succeed, it will be her demise, and the journey will prove to be difficult as they must travel to the deep darkness of the Mayan underworld.

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