Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller was one of the first books that reintroduced me to my love of reading in the past couple of years. I partly think it helped because the topic was familiar. Everyone knows a little bit about the Greek myths right? From obsessing over the Percy Jackson series to learning about mythology in school, it really helped to read something I had a minor familiarity with, especially after not reading for so long.
It also helped that Miller’s earth-shattering story was so exquisitely written; I seemed to consume the book in a couple of days. Don’t get me wrong, a feel-good romance novel or a great contemporary book are great reads, but there’s nothing quite like getting lost in the adventure, love, loss, and quest of a Greek myth. Like Miller, dozens of modern-day authors are retelling these stories, shining lights on the perspectives that went overlooked in the ancient Greek folklore.
If you’re looking to satiate that craving for mythological stories again that Song of Achilles provided in the same fresh way, we’ve got a list of novels below that have climbed to the top of our TBR list.
Ariadne grew up in a gorgeous palace learning about gods' and heroes’ great quests and adventures, all while her brother, the Minotaur, stalked underneath the palace menacingly. When Ariadne, the Princess of Crete, encounters Theseus, the Prince of Athens, she sees an escape with his arrival. Ariadne betrays her family and helps him kill the Minotaur, which changes her fate in a way she did not foresee.
Also written by Madeline Miller, Circe tells the story of Circe herself, daughter of the Titan Helios. She discovers witchcraft, and Zeus banishes her to a deserted island, where her skills only become sharper. She finds herself at a crossroads, torn between belonging with the gods where she was raised or with mortals whom she’s grown to love.
Many know the story of the Odyssey, which follows Odysseus as he embarks on a 20-year journey to fight in the Trojan War and save Helen, but what about his wife Penelope, who stayed behind? This novel shows her side of the story and gives some insight into what happened when Odysseus returns and kills her suitors and maids. A haunting and compassionate story, The Penelopiad puts a highlight on the overlooked women in Greek mythology.
Here is the story of the Iliad as we’ve never heard it before: in the words of Briseis, Trojan queen and captive of Achilles. In these pages, she comes fully to life: wry and watchful, forging connections among her fellow female prisoners even as she is caught between Greece’s two most powerful warriors.
Every seven years, the Agon begins. As punishment for a past rebellion, nine Greek gods are forced to walk the Earth as mortals, hunted by the descendants of ancient bloodlines, all eager to kill a god and seize their divine power and immortality.
Lore, a mortal descendent of Perseus, no longer participates in the hunt—that is, until two unlikely allies are in need of her help: a long lost friend and the goddess Athena herself.
After the Trojan War, five women find themselves stuck in a destroyed Troy, as the offended gods never send favorable winds to sail them home. Helen, Cassandra, Amina, Hecuba, and Briseis form alliances wherever they see fit in this exquisite retelling of a classic myth.
In the middle of the night, a woman wakes to find her beloved city engulfed in flames. Ten seemingly endless years of conflict between the Greeks and the Trojans are over. Troy has fallen.
From the Trojan women whose fates now lie in the hands of the Greeks to the Amazon princess who fought Achilles on their behalf to Penelope awaiting the return of Odysseus to the three goddesses whose feud started it all, these are the stories of the women whose lives, loves, and rivalries were forever altered by this long and tragic war.
Angrboda’s story begins where most witches' tales end: with a burning. A punishment from Odin for refusing to provide him with knowledge of the future, the fire leaves Angrboda injured and powerless, and she flees into the farthest reaches of a remote forest. There, she is found by a man who reveals himself to be Loki, and her initial distrust of him transforms into a deep and abiding love.
Jocasta is just 15 when she is told that she must marry the King of Thebes, an old man she has never met. Her life has never been her own, nor will it be, unless she outlives her strange, absent husband.
Ismene is the same age when she is attacked in the palace she calls home. Since the day of her parents' tragic deaths a decade earlier, she has always longed to feel safe with the family she still has. But with a single act of violence, all that is about to change.
With the turn of these two events, a tragedy is set in motion—but not as you know it.