written by Natalia

The Song of Achilles – Madeline Miller

The Song of Achilles, currently one of our bestsellers, is inspired by Greek mythology and one of my favorite contemporary versions of Homer’s The Iliad. Even though the events of the Trojan war are part of our collective memory, the epic poem lends itself to being retold in various literary forms and other media. What I adored most about this version is how Madeline Miller sets the stage for Achilles and Patroclus’ friendship and love story during the Trojan War, casting a new light on the human side of war. That’s especially clear in the way she portrays Achilles, who is often seen and described as an arrogant and entitled warrior but here feels more human through Patroclus’ eyes. I highly recommend this book to anyone who desires a deeply layered retelling of the Trojan War.

Lore Olympus: Volume One – Rachel Smythe

Rachel Smythe’s graphic novel Lore Olympus tells the story of Hades and Persephone in a contemporary setting. Lore Olympus started as a webtoon, a type of digital comic, but has now been released as a graphic novel. This first volume sets the stage for the meeting of Hades and Persephone. Persephone was brought up by her mother, Demeter, in the mortal world, but she wants to live among the gods. The promise of training as a sacred virgin allows her to finally discover this glamorous godly realm.

I am a huge fan of modern retellings like this because they show the infinite possibilities of Greek mythology interpretations.

The Silence of the Girls – Pat Barker

Pat Barker’s The Silence of the Girls tells the story of the Trojan War from a woman’s perspective. One of its narrators is Briseis, once queen of Lyrnessus, who is taken to Achilles’s camp as his war prize. Briseis is forced to be Achilles’s concubine and wait out the war’s outcome. During the Trojan war, women were abducted from Troy and held captive and used as slaves, prostitutes and nurses by Greek warriors.

Through Briseis’s eyes, we learn about the experiences of women trying to survive the Greek camps and grieving about their lost husbands, brothers and nephews. Barker gives voice to the women who have long been erased from history in favor of heroic battles told from the perspective of men and warriors. I’m glad that Pat Barker turned the tide and gave women the voice they deserve in this riveting account of the Trojan War.

This Poison Heart – Kalynn Bayron

This young adult urban fantasy by Kalynn Bayron is influenced by Frances Hodgson Burnett’s novel The Secret Garden and takes inspiration from Greek mythology. The main character, Briseis, inherits a neglected estate in rural New York from her aunt, who has recently passed away. Part of this rural estate is a hidden garden full of poisonous and deadly plants. Briseis has the magical ability to grow plants from tiny seeds all with a single touch, and she hopes to fully harness her gift during her stay at the house over the summer.

I thoroughly enjoyed this story, especially how Bayron tackles themes such as racism, LGBTQI+ identities (Briseis’ two mothers) and family secrets. Not only does Briseis inherit the family estate, but she also inherits family secrets that have been preserved over many generations, and this is where the Greek mythology mostly comes into play. Bayron’s writing is engaging and evocative, bringing each character to life.

Lore – Alexandra Bracken

In Alexandra Bracken’s Lore, Greek Mythology meets Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games: every seven years, nine Olympian Gods are forced to walk the earth as mortals and participate in an event called the Agon. During this event, each of the gods is hunted by heroes of their bloodline, such as Hercules and Perseus. If any of these heroes manages to kill one of the gods, they assume their power and immortality. Lore, a descendant of Perseus, is thrown back into the depths of the worlds of the gods after her family is brutally murdered. When an old friend resurfaces, Lore is forced to navigate the Agon once again.

I was highly entertained by this action-packed story filled with the brutality of the Olympian Gods and the struggles of a teenage girl trying to survive the absurdity of her life. If you enjoyed The Hunger Games and the Percy Jackson series by Rick Riordan, then this YA (young adult) standalone might be for you.