Across the African diaspora, literature shows unity beyond bloodlines. From oral storytelling to written folklore, the stories of deities with origins in Africa live on along the Trans Atlantic Slave Trade with varying names, yet identities that remain the same. From Orishas, also known as the seven African powers of gods and goddesses, to mythical beings, these novels show the resilience of Black cultures. Here are 10 must-read tales of orishas and mythology across the African diaspora to explore.
Skin of the Sea by Natasha Bowen
In Skin of the Sea, the Yoruba name for the mother of all Orishas, Yemọja, gives voice to the belief that the water spirit, Mami Wata, led the charge to guide the souls of those tossed or jumped overboard during the Trans Atlantic Slave Trade to the afterlife. In this historical fantasy retelling, readers experience Black mermaids with a nod to Han’s Christian Anderson’s The Little Mermaid.
Shallow Waters by Anita Kopacz
In Shallow Waters, the Cuban name for the mother of all Orishas, Yemaya, is referenced as the deity on an epic journey along the Middle Passage in the mid-1800s in search of her love, Obatala.
The Half-God of Rainfall by Inua Ellams
Exploring pride, power and revenge, The Half-God of Rainfall imagines a reality where the Black Gods still wield power with demi-god offspring that walk among us.
Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi
Genuine Yoruba language and cultural references are used throughout Children of Blood and Bone with a representation of the ten Orisha clans.
Dream Country by Ashaye Brown
Dream Country is a high fantasy steeped in Kenyan, Brazilian, Caribbean and Grecian mythology, exploring the realms of dreams, sleep and nightmares.
Beasts of Prey by Ayana Gray
The creatures from Beasts of Prey by Ayana Gray are of legends sighted, yet to be debunked. This pan-African myth is sure to both excite and haunt your dreams.
Daughters Of Nri by Reni K. Amayo
Daughters Of Nri by Reni K. Amayo explores the trope of two identical twins separated at birth with a magical high fantasy twist.
The Deep by Rivers Solomon
In The Deep by Rivers Solomon, alternate realities within speculative fiction imagine the immortality of lives cut too short. It offers healing to the historical trauma of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade while also exploring mermaid queer love story.
A Comb of Wishes by Lisa Stringfellow
A Comb of Wishes is a middle-grade fantasy that highlights Caribbean folklore and dangerous mermaids, and explores the consequences of when a bargain is made for a wish.
The Gatekeeper’s Staff: An Old Gods Story by Antoine Bandele
The Gatekeeper’s Staff showcases a world of magical families, secret communities, magic schools, Orishas, and mythology from the U.S. to Nigeria. This middle-grade fantasy will likely appeal to lovers of Percy Jackson.