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If you love Greek myths as much as I do, you’re going to love all of these Greek mythology retellings!
I love Medusa retellings, so I absolutely had to share Stone Blind by Natalie Haynes.
They will fear you and flee you and call you a monster.
The only mortal in a family of gods, Medusa is the youngest of the Gorgon sisters. Unlike her siblings, Medusa grows older, experiences change, feels weakness. Her mortal lifespan gives her an urgency that her family will never know.
When the sea god Poseidon assaults Medusa in Athene’s temple, the goddess is enraged. Furious by the violation of her sacred space, Athene takes revenge—on the young woman. Punished for Poseidon’s actions, Medusa is forever transformed. Writhing snakes replace her hair and her gaze will turn any living creature to stone. Cursed with the power to destroy all she loves with one look, Medusa condemns herself to a life of solitude.
Until Perseus embarks upon a fateful quest to fetch the head of a Gorgon . . .
In Stone Blind, classicist and comedian Natalie Haynes turns our understanding of this legendary myth on its head, bringing empathy and nuance to one of the earliest stories in which a woman—injured by a powerful man—is blamed, punished, and monstered for the assault. Delving into the origins of this mythic tale, Haynes revitalizes and reconstructs Medusa’s story with her passion and fierce wit, offering a timely retelling of this classic myth that speaks to us today.
The Shadow of Perseus
While I have an entire review of The Shadow of Perseus by Claire Heywood, I will briefly touch on it here. This is a Greek myth retelling that focuses more on the brave women that were affected by Perseus and it’s more of an original story about these women. I personally really enjoyed this story and I hope you all will too!
Nationally bestselling author of Daughters of Sparta Claire Heywood returns with an imaginative and female-centered reinterpretation of the myth of the great hero Perseus, told through the voices of three women who are sidelined in the traditional version—his mother, Danae; his trophy, Medusa; and his wife, Andromeda—but whose viewpoints reveal a man who is not, in fact, a hero at all.
Danae: Banished from her homeland thanks to a prophecy foretelling that her unborn child will one day cause the death of her father, the king of Argos, Danae finds herself stranded, pregnant, and alone in a remote fishing village. It’s a harsh new world for a young woman who grew up as a coddled princess, and forging a new life for herself and for her young son Perseus will be the hardest thing she’s ever done.
Medusa: As a member of a reclusive band of women who live deep in the woods, known as the Gorgons, Medusa has eschewed all contact with the outside world. That is, until the day she finds an injured boy named Perseus in the forest.
Andromeda: When a harsh sandstorm threatens to destroy her nomadic desert tribe’s way of life, Andromeda knows that a sacrifice will be required to appease the gods and end the storm. But when a forceful young Perseus interferes, Andromeda’s life is set on an entirely new path.
As Perseus becomes increasingly obsessed with the promise of his own destiny, his heroic journey casts a shadow of violence and destruction across all three women’s lives. But even as he tries to silence them, the women may find that reclaiming their voices is their only hope for lifting themselves into a better future.
I covered Circe by Madeline Miller on a Patreon episode of the Barely Bookish podcast which was a lot of fun! We covered this book while covering The Iliad and The Odyssey.
In the house of Helios, god of the sun and mightiest of the Titans, a daughter is born. But Circe is a strange child — not powerful, like her father, nor viciously alluring like her mother. Turning to the world of mortals for companionship, she discovers that she does possess power — the power of witchcraft, which can transform rivals into monsters and menace the gods themselves.
Threatened, Zeus banishes her to a deserted island, where she hones her occult craft, tames wild beasts and crosses paths with many of the most famous figures in all of mythology, including the Minotaur, Daedalus and his doomed son Icarus, the murderous Medea, and, of course, wily Odysseus.
But there is danger, too, for a woman who stands alone, and Circe unwittingly draws the wrath of both men and gods, ultimately finding herself pitted against one of the most terrifying and vengeful of the Olympians. To protect what she loves most, Circe must summon all her strength and choose, once and for all, whether she belongs with the gods she is born from, or the mortals she has come to love.
With unforgettably vivid characters, mesmerizing language, and page-turning suspense, Circe is a triumph of storytelling, an intoxicating epic of family rivalry, palace intrigue, love and loss, as well as a celebration of indomitable female strength in a man’s world.
The Song of Achilles
The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller is such a fun loose retelling of these Greek myths.
A thrilling, profoundly moving, and utterly unique retelling of the legend of Achilles and the Trojan War from the bestselling author of Circe
A tale of gods, kings, immortal fame, and the human heart, The Song of Achilles is a dazzling literary feat that brilliantly reimagines Homer’s enduring masterwork, The Iliad. An action-packed adventure, an epic love story, a marvelously conceived and executed page-turner, Miller’s monumental debut novel has already earned resounding acclaim from some of contemporary fiction’s brightest lights—and fans of Mary Renault, Bernard Cornwell, Steven Pressfield, and Colleen McCullough’s Masters of Rome series will delight in this unforgettable journey back to ancient Greece in the Age of Heroes.
A Thousand Ships
A Thousand Ships by Natalie Haynes is focused on being a feminist retelling, highlighting the women that were affected during the Trojan War. You’ll see a lot of mythological figures you know and love on this journey.
This is the women’s war, just as much as it is the men’s. They have waited long enough for their turn . . .
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 whose lives, loves, and rivalries were forever altered by this long and tragic war.
A woman’s epic, powerfully imbued with new life, A Thousand Ships puts the women, girls and goddesses at the center of the Western world’s great tale ever told.
Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief
Personally, I had to include the Percy Jackson books by Rick Riordan. I love this modern retelling, while it’s a completely original story that features the Greek gods and nods to a lot of the ancient myths. Make sure to check out my post on the Percy Jackson books in order as well as if this series is still good for adults.
Percy Jackson is about to be kicked out of boarding school . . . again. And that’s the least of his troubles. Lately, mythological monsters and the gods of Mount Olympus seem to be walking straight out of the pages of Percy’s Greek mythology textbook and into his life. And worse, he’s angered a few of them. Zeus’s master lightning bolt has been stolen, and Percy is the prime suspect. Now Percy and his friends have just ten days to find and return Zeus’s stolen property and bring peace to a warring Mount Olympus. But to succeed on his quest, Percy will have to do more than catch the true thief: he must come to terms with the father who abandoned him; solve the riddle of the Oracle, which warns him of betrayal by a friend; and unravel a treachery more powerful than the gods themselves.
I hope you all will enjoy these retellings as much as I do! If you want to enjoy the classic stories, make sure to check out the episodes of The Odyssey, The Iliad, and The Aeneid over on the Barely Bookish podcast.