Friday, March 2, 2012

Stars of Myths and Fairy Tales

The "Stars of..." series is a feature I'm doing here at Epic (Chocolate) Fantasy to highlight the best books in different areas of the fantasy genre. Say you want a book about shapeshifters or wizards or mythology, or maybe you want to read some political or heroic fantasy. Stop by here every Thursday for the foreseeable future, and I'll have recommendations for you! Click on the book covers for links to the first book in the series and on the series name for a list of the books in it on Goodreads.

If you think there's something I missed in this category, feel free to leave your own suggestions in the comments! I haven't read everything out there, obviously, and I'd love some recommendations myself.

Series are alphabetical by author.

Stars of Myths and Fairy Tales

Finally! A little late, but here are some great contemporary retellings of myths and fairy tales, or at least some books that include aspects of mythology. I'm noticing an interesting trend as I write this post; most of the adult books aren't a specific retelling or adaptation, but include a wide variety of myths in their respective worlds, while more of the YA books are straightforward retellings of either fairy tales or the Core/Persephone myth. Though they do have a distinct lack of pomegranates.


Ilona Andrews
Kate Daniels
5 books, ongoing

Kate Daniels is one of my favorite series. Kate is funny and strong and badass, but she has weaknesses too, and she really cares about her friends. And Curran is perfect for her – they're my favorite couple. All the characters in this series are vivid and believable, the stories are exciting, and I can't wait to see what happens next. This series brings in a lot of different mythologies from all over the world.

Jim Butcher
Dresden Files
13 books, ongoing

The Dresden Files is one of the most brilliant series out there. Harry Dresden, wizard, is full of wit and heroism, and must work in a complex, detailed society of magic and magical creatures. This is one of the few series that's still going strong in its teens, and I love every minute of it. While mythology isn't as prevalent here as in Kate Daniels, you'll still find a few old gods wandering around.

Kevin Hearne
Iron Druid
3 books, ongoing

Yet another amazing and hilarious series. Atticus, last of the Druids, gets himself into quite a bit of trouble but always tries to do the right thing. Actually, though, my favorite character is his dog, Oberon, who cracks me up every time. Gods and goddesses are a part of Atticus's everyday life, and he deals with them accordingly.

Neil Gaiman
American Gods

This unusual story attempts to define the spirit of America through ancient myths stranded in modern times.  Gripping and often slightly disturbing, American Gods is no comfort read.  It's the kind of book that makes you wonder whether there's a higher purpose in life and whose stories we're really living anyway.

Anansi Boys

Anansi Boys is another tale that explores what ancient gods might be like if they lived in modern times. This time Gaiman brings in African deities like Tiger and Anansi to tell a different story of what makes a person whole.

Robin McKinley

Deerskin is a retelling of a more obscure fairy tale, also called "Deerskin". There are parts that are disturbing and sad, and parts that are amazing. Mostly it's about a girl and her dog, and how she works with animals in general.


If you've been around here a while, you probably already know that Sunshine is one of my favorite books, since I mention it in every other meme. Sunshine is a very loose retelling of "Beauty and the Beast." It's very different from most vampire books, mostly because the vampires in it are not misunderstood heroes. And Sunshine's not trained in any martial arts or combat magic – mostly just baking. I really, really love this world, and all the characters have great depth. As a huge fan of McKinley's writing style, I'd have to say this is one of her best books. I only wish there were more to go with it.


Josephine Angelini

Starcrossed features warring Houses of Greek demigods, whose heritage makes them want to kill one another on sight. Despite a slow start, it's an excellent first book, and I can't wait to see what happens next in the series. Helen and Lucas are a great leading couple, lacking a lot of irritating traits of many YA characters.

Meg Cabot
1 book, ongoing
My review of Abandon

Abandon, a loose retelling of the Persephone myth, is a fun read. Although the heroine, Pierce, has her shortcomings, being in her head is entertaining. I particularly enjoyed the way the myth was modernized and the manifestation of the Furies in this one.

Aimée Carter
1 book, ongoing
My review of The Goddess Test

The Goddess Test is another Persephone story, this time requiring the main character, Kate, to pass a number of tests as part of a deal for someone's life. While it's a little slower than I normally like, The Goddess Test has likable characters and an interesting, if slightly problematic, premise.

Marissa Meyer
1 book, ongoing
My review of Cinder

Cinder's scifi reboot of "Cinderella" provides a fascinating start for a new series. The execution is good, though not amazing, but there's definitely room for growth in this series.

Robin McKinley
Spindle's End

Along with a couple other retellings of "Beauty and the Beast," Beauty and Rose Daughter, Robin McKinley wrote a "Sleeping Beauty" novel, Spindle's End. Of her YA fairy tale books, Spindle's End is my favorite – I even wrote a fun essay on it once in college. While it definitely makes some changes to the original story, on the whole I'm in favor of them, and it's a great story.

Rick Riordan
5 books, completed and 2 books, ongoing
My review of The Son of Neptune

The Percy Jackson and Heroes of Olympus are extremely fun and funny stories about demigods. They're the kind of kids' books that are great for anyone, with many creatures and stories from Greek mythology woven into the books.

The books in the Kane Chronicles are pretty similar to the Percy Jackson series, but with Egyptian mythology instead of Greek. While I don't think they're quite as good as the originals, and they're basically the same story anyway, it is quite interesting to learn about the less ubiquitous Egyptian pantheon.

Maggie Stiefvater

The Scorpio Races reinvents another obscure legend: water horses that eat people. While the horses are central to the story, though, it's more about people and a place. The Scorpio Races is filled with Maggie Stiefvater's standard beautiful prose and with wonderful characters who make the book come alive.

Have you read any of these? Do you have other suggestions for the list?


  1. So... can I just say this post rocks? LOL. Seriously, I've been wanting to read every single one of these and quite badly too! I need to. Real soon. o:

  2. I love how Sunshine manages to make almost every one of your lists! :) I REALLY need to read it soooon!


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