Novels based on mythology and legends are on my radar since I discovered the amazing John Campbell. After reading his book, The Power of Myth, I’m obsessed with mythology and yes, I enjoy reading novels based on mythology and legends.
If you’re into mythology I bet you’ll find amazing novels in this list of novels based on mythology and legends. I made sure this is a mixed list and everyone can find a novel to their liking. Happy reading!
Novels Based on Mythology and Legends
The Penelopiad – Margaret Atwood
Penelope. Immortalised in legend and myth as the devoted wife of the glorious Odysseus, silently weaving and unpicking and weaving again as she waits for her husband’s return.
Now Penelope wanders the underworld, spinning a different kind of thread: her own side of the story – a tale of lust, greed and murder. For the fans of Atwood among novels based on mythology and legends.
Circe – Madeline Miller
A best-seller among novels based on mythology and legends. Woman. Witch. Myth. Mortal. Outcast. Lover. Destroyer. Survivor. CIRCE.
In the house of Helios, god of the sun and mightiest of the Titans, a daughter is born. Circe is a strange child – not powerful and terrible, like her father, nor gorgeous and mercenary like her mother. Scorned and rejected, Circe grows up in the shadows, at home in neither the world of gods or mortals. But Circe has a dark power of her own: witchcraft.
When her gift threatens the gods, she is banished to the island of Aiaia where she hones her occult craft, casting spells, gathering strange herbs and taming wild beasts. Yet a woman who stands alone will never be left in peace for long – and among her island’s guests is an unexpected visitor: the mortal Odysseus, for whom Circe will risk everything.
So Circe sets forth her tale, a vivid, mesmerizing epic of family rivalry, love and loss – the defiant, inextinguishable song of woman burning hot and bright through the darkness of a man’s world. A gem among novels based on mythology and legends.
The Children of Jocasta – Natalie Haynes
My siblings and I have grown up in a cursed house, children of cursed parents . . .
Jocasta is just fifteen 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, and 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. An exciting one among novels based on mythology and legends.
The Silence of the Girls – Pat Barker
There was a woman at the heart of the Trojan War whose voice has been silent – until now. Discover the greatest Greek myth of all – retold by the witness that history forgot . . .
Briseis was a queen until her city was destroyed. Now she is a slave to the man who butchered her husband and brothers. Trapped in a world defined by men, can she survive to become the author of her own story? An interesting one among novels based on mythology and legends.
She Who Became the Sun – Shelley Parker-Chan
Fancy a novel set in China in 1345? This one is for you among novels based on mythology and legends. In a famine-stricken village on a dusty plain, a seer shows two children their fates. For a family’s eighth-born son, there’s greatness. For the second daughter, nothing.
In 1345, China lies restless under harsh Mongol rule. And when a bandit raid wipes out their home, the two children must somehow survive. Zhu Chongba despairs and gives in. But the girl resolves to overcome her destiny. So she takes her dead brother’s identity and begins her journey. Can Zhu escape what’s written in the stars, as rebellion sweeps the land? Or can she claim her brother’s greatness – and rise as high as she can dream? An exciting one among novels based on mythology and legends.
The King Must Die – Mary Renault
Theseus is the grandson of the King of Troizen, but his paternity is shrouded in mystery – can he really be the son of the god Poseidon? When he discovers his father’s sword beneath a rock, his mother must reveal his true identity: Theseus is the son of Aegeus, King of Athens, and is his only heir. So begins Theseus’s perilous journey to his father’s palace to claim his birthright, escaping bandits and ritual king sacrifice in Eleusis, to slaying the Minotaur in Crete. Renault reimagines the Theseus myth, creating an original, exciting story. An interesting one among novels based on mythology and legends.
Lavinia – Ursula K. Le Guin
For the fans of Le Guin among novels based on mythology and legends. Lavinia is the daughter of the King of Latium, a victorious warrior who loves peace; she is her father’s closest companion. Now of an age to wed, Lavinia’s mother favours her own kinsman, King Turnus of Rutulia, handsome, heroic, everything a young girl should want. Instead, Lavinia dreams of mighty Aeneas, a man she has heard of only from a ghost of a poet, who comes to her in the gods’ holy place and tells her of her future, and Aeneas’ past…
If she refuses to wed Turnus, Lavinia knows she will start a war – but her fate was set the moment the poet appeared to her in a dream and told her of the adventurer who fled fallen Troy, holding his son’s hand and carrying his father on his back… An exciting one among novels based on mythology and legends.
Ariadne – Jennifer Saint
Want romance? This one is for you among novels based on mythology and legends. Ariadne, Princess of Crete and daughter of the fearsome King Minos, grows up hearing stories of gods and heroes. But beneath the golden palace something else stirs, the hoofbeats and bellows echoing from the Labyrinth below. Every year its captive, the Minotaur – Ariadne’s brother – demands blood.
When Theseus, Prince of Athens, arrives as a sacrifice to the beast, Ariadne sees in him her chance to escape. But helping Theseus kill the monster means betraying her family and country, and Ariadne knows only too well that drawing the attention of the mercurial gods may cost her everything.
In a world where women are nothing more than the pawns of powerful men, will Ariadne’s decision to risk everything for love ensure her happy ending? Or will she find herself sacrificed for her lover’s ambition? A best-seller among novels based on mythology and legends.
Lore Olympus – Rachel Smythe
Fan of graphic novels? This one is for you among novels based on mythology and legends. Persephone, young goddess of spring, is new to Olympus. Her mother, Demeter, has raised her in the mortal realm, but after Persephone promises to train as a sacred virgin, she’s allowed to live in the fast-moving, glamorous world of the gods.
When her roommate, Artemis, takes her to a party, her entire life changes: she ends up meeting Hades and feels an immediate spark with the charming yet misunderstood ruler of the Underworld.
Now Persephone must navigate the confusing politics and relationships that rule Olympus, while also figuring out her own place – and her own power. For fans of Persephone among novels based on mythology and legends.
The Witch’s Heart – Genevieve Gornichec
Love witches and the paranormal? This one is for you among novels based on mythology and legends. Angrboda’s story begins where most witch tales end: with being burnt. A punishment from Odin for sharing her visions of the future with the wrong people, the fire leaves Angrboda injured and powerless, and she flees into the furthest reaches of a remote forest. There she is found by a man who reveals himself to be the trickster god Loki, and her initial distrust of him and any of his kind grows reluctantly into a deep and abiding love.
Their union produces the most important things in her long life: a trio of peculiar children, each with a secret destiny, whom she is keen to raise at the edge of the world, safely hidden from Odin’s all-seeing eye. But as Angrboda slowly recovers her prophetic powers, she learns that her blissful life and possibly all of existence is in danger.
Angrboda must choose whether she’ll accept the fate that she’s foreseen for her beloved family or rise to remake it. An interesting one among novels based on mythology and legends.
Norse Mythology – Neil Gaiman
Into Norse mythology? This one is for you among novels based on mythology and legends. The great Norse myths, which have inspired so much of modern fiction, are dazzlingly retold by Neil Gaiman. Tales of dwarfs and frost giants, of treasure and magic, and of Asgard, home to the gods: Odin the all-father, highest and oldest of the Aesir; his mighty son Thor, whose hammer Mjollnir makes the mountain giants tremble; Loki, wily and handsome, reliably unreliable in his lusts; and Freya, more beautiful than the sun or the moon, who spurns those who seek to control her.
From the dawn of the world to the twilight of the gods, this is a thrilling, vivid retelling of the Norse myths from the award-winning, bestselling Neil Gaiman among novels based on mythology and legends.
Baba Yaga Laid an Egg – Dubravka Ugresic
Baba Yaga is an old hag who lives in a house built on chicken legs and kidnaps small children. She is one of the most pervasive and powerful creatures in all mythology. She appears in many forms: as Pupa, a tricksy, cantankerous old woman who keeps her legs tucked into a huge furry boot; as a trio of mischievous elderly women who embark on the trip of a lifetime to a hotel spa; and as a villainous flock of ravens, black hens and magpies infected with the H5N1 virus. But what story does Baba Yaga have to tell us today?
This is a quizzical tale about one of the most pervasive and poerful creatures in all mythology, and an extraordinary yarn of identity, secrets, storytelling and love. A gem among novels based on mythology and legends.
Gods of Jade and Shadow – Silvia Moreno-Garcia
The Jazz Age is in full swing, but it’s passing Casiopea Tun by. She’s too busy scrubbing floors in her wealthy grandfather’s house to do anything more than dream of a life far from her dusty, small town in southern Mexico. A life she could call her own.
This dream is impossible, distant as the stars – until the day Casiopea opens a curious chest in her grandfather’s room and accidentally frees an ancient Mayan god of death. He offers her a deal: if Casiopea helps him recover his throne from his treacherous brother, he will grant her whatever she desires. Success will make her every dream come true, but failure will see her lost, for ever.
In the company of the strangely alluring god and armed only with her wits, Casiopea begins an adventure that will take her on a cross-country odyssey, from the jungles of Yucatán to the bright lights of Mexico City and deep into the darkness of Xibalba, the Mayan underworld. For all the magical realism fans among novels based on mythology and legends.
The Palace of Illusions – Chitra Divakaruni
A reimagining of the world-famous Indian epic, the Mahabharat—told from the point of view of an amazing woman.
Relevant to today’s war-torn world, The Palace of Illusions takes us back to a time that is half history, half myth, and wholly magical. Narrated by Panchaali, the wife of the legendary Pandavas brothers in the Mahabharat, the novel gives us a new interpretation of this ancient tale. Want to teleport yourself to India? This one is for you among novels based on mythology and legends.
Sistersong – Lucy Holland
King Cador’s children inherit a land abandoned by the Romans, torn by warring tribes. Riva can cure others, but can’t heal her own scars. Keyne battles to be seen as the king’s son, although born a daughter. And Sinne dreams of love, longing for adventure.
All three fear a life of confinement within the walls of the hold, their people’s last bastion of strength against the invading Saxons. However, change comes on the day ash falls from the sky – bringing Myrdhin, meddler and magician. The siblings discover the power that lies within them and the land. But fate also brings Tristan, a warrior whose secrets will tear them apart.
Riva, Keyne and Sinne become entangled in a web of treachery and heartbreak, and must fight to forge their own paths. It’s a story that will shape the destiny of Britain. For all the queer fiction fans among novels based on mythology and legends.
The Goddess Chronicle – Natsuo Kirino
A gem among novels based on mythology and legends. In a place like no other, on a mystical island in the shape of tear drop, two sisters are born into a family of oracles. Kamikuu is admired far and wide for her otherworldly beauty; small and headstrong Namima learns to live in her sister’s shadow. On her sixth birthday, Kamikuu is chosen to become the next Oracle, serving the realm of light, while Namima is forced to serve the realm of darkness—destined to spend eternity guiding the spirits of the deceased to the underworld.
As the sisters serve opposite fates, Namima embarks on a journey that takes her from the experience of first love to the aftermath of scalding betrayal. Caught in an elaborate web of treachery, she travels between the land of the living and the Realm of the Dead, seeking vengeance and closure. Into Japanese myths? You’ll love this among novels based on mythology and legends.
Deathless – Catherynne M. Valente
A handsome young man arrives in St Petersburg at the house of Marya Morevna. He is Koschei, the Tsar of Life, and he is Marya’s fate. For years she follows him in love and in war, and bears the scars. But eventually Marya returns to her birthplace – only to discover a starveling city, haunted by death. Deathless is a fierce story of life and death, love and power, old memories, deep myth and dark magic, set against the history of Russia in the twentieth century. It is, quite simply, unforgettable among novels based on mythology and legends..
Gods Behaving Badly – Marie Phillips
Looking for humor? This one is for you among novels based on mythology and legends. Being immortal isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Life’s hard for a Greek god in the 21st century: nobody believes in you any more, even your own family doesn’t respect you, and you’re stuck in a delapidated hovel in north London with too many siblings and not enough hot water. But for Artemis (goddess of hunting, professional dog walker), Aphrodite (goddess of beauty, telephone sex operator) and Apollo (god of the sun, TV psychic) there’s no way out… Until a meek cleaner and her would-be boyfriend come into their lives, and turn the world literally upside down.
A Thousand Ships – Natalie Haynes
This was never the story of one woman, or two. It was the story of them all . . .
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 embroiled in the legendary war.
Powerfully told from an all-female perspective, A Thousand Ships puts the women, girls and goddesses at the centre of the story among novels based on mythology and legends.
House of Names – Colm Tóibín
On the day of his daughter’s wedding, Agamemnon orders her sacrifice.
His daughter is led to her death, and Agamemnon leads his army into battle, where he is rewarded with glorious victory.
Three years later, he returns home and his murderous action has set the entire family – mother, brother, sister – on a path of intimate violence, as they enter a world of hushed commands and soundless journeys through the palace’s dungeons and bedchambers. As his wife seeks his death, his daughter, Electra, is the silent observer to the family’s game of innocence while his son, Orestes, is sent into bewildering, frightening exile where survival is far from certain. Out of their desolating loss, Electra and Orestes must find a way to right these wrongs of the past even if it means committing themselves to a terrible, barbarous act. An exciting one among novels based on mythology and legends.
Check out my other lists about books!
- 10 Uplifting Books
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- Autumn Books – 20 Cozy Novels
- Winter Books- 20 Atmospheric Novels
- Spring Books – 20 Lovely Novels
- 20 Captivating Gothic Books
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- Fantasy Book Series
- Novels Based on Mythology and Legends
- Tarot Books to Learn From
- Books About Astrology
- Books for Book Clubs
- Magical Realism Books
- Books Set in Museums
- Books Set in Hotels
- Books Set on Islands
- Books Set in Forests
- Novels Set in Ancient Egypt
- Novels Set in Bookshops
- Novels Set in Libraries
- Books Set in the English Countryside
- Books Set in Edinburgh
- Books Set in Oxford
- Books Set in Istanbul
- Books Set in Rome
- Books Set in Portugal
- Books Set in Egypt
- Books Set in Greece
- Books Set in Mexico
- Books Set in South Africa
- Novels Under 100 Pages
- Novels Under 150 Pages
- Novels Under 200 Pages
- Novels About Older Woman, Younger Man Relationships
- Novels About Fortune Telling
- Novels About Translators and Interpreters
- Novels About Books
- Best Books About Books
- Novels About Vincent Van Gogh
- Novels About Leonardo da Vinci
- Novels About Marriage
- Novels About Food
- Novels About Writers
- Novels About Music
- Books About Witches
- Books About Divorce
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- Best Books About Birds
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Are there any novels about translators and interpreters you’d like to add to this list? Would you please share in the comments section below?