Fairytales, Legends and Myth Retellings | Part 2
One of my favourite genres of books is retellings of Fairytales, Legends, and Myths. In particular, Greek Myth retellings. I did a post a while back about Greek Myth retellings, and a further one about fairytales, legends, and myths. This is part two of the latter.
Fairytales, legends and myth retellings
I was lucky enough to get an early copy of Ariadne by Jennifer Saint via NetGalley. After reading Circe by Madeline Miller and A Thousand Ships by Natalie Haynes, I’ve been addicted to reading more about the women of Greek Mythology. This book would be better named Ariadne and Phaedra as the story follows the two sisters and princesses of Crete. Both assisted Theseus in his defeat of the minotaur, and both paid for it in unique ways. This story is all about their survival, and their relationship. It’s brilliant. And well worth picking up when it’s released in April 2021.
Natalie Haynes is one of the top authors of Greek Myth retellings focused on women, in my mind. I really enjoyed her collection of stories of the women of Troy in A Thousand Ships. This is a very similar story, focusing on the ignored women of Greek Mythology. From the goddesses Artemis, Hera and Athena, to the mortal women Clytemnestra, Pandora and Eurydice.
If you’re looking for a collection of short stories that retell myths and legends, then I highly recommend Love in Colour by Bolu Babolola. It’s a brilliant collection of myth retellings from West Africa, including iconic Greek Myths as well as Nigerian and Ghanaian folklore and more. It’s beautiful, rich in detail and utterly engrossing.
Stephen Fry’s series on Greek Mythology finishes with Troy. Focusing on the Trojan War of legend, the book actually starts a few years before the war began; telling the tales of the men whose decisions in their youths caused the coming war to come to fruition. The book ends with the catastrophic sacking of the fabled city of Troy. I really enjoyed the opening chapters about the events that led to the war, but Fry seems to skip over the actual war in the book; jumping from the opening battles to the very last battles ten years later in the space of one chapter. Still, it’s a very good read for anyone fascinated by the lives of the great Greek heroes like Achilles and Hector and the events that led to the Battle for Troy.
I’ve yet to get into Arthurian legend retellings, but undoubtedly that time will come. This story is a modern retelling of the legend, focusing on a sixteen-year-old boy who has to awaken King Arthur centuries after his death, to help him with a task. The Lady of the Lake has been manipulating his life but Tom, the boy, is resistant to fulfilling his destiny. It’s the first in a three-book series.
I’ve got Giles Kristian’s bestseller Lancelot, but again have yet to read it. That hasn’t stopped me from adding Camelot to my wish list. Camelot focuses on the time after Arthur and Lancelot when Merlin has been missing for ten years and Camelot is weak and ripe for attack. But with the help of the old knights of the round table, Lancelot’s son Galahad is coming to the rescue.
I read The Silence of the Girls last year and I did enjoy it – although it was less about the women of Troy, as it promised, and more about Achilles and Patroclus. However, Pat Barker appears to be remedying that with a new book literally named The Women of Troy. The book won’t be out for quite a while, but I’m looking forward to picking it up and seeing what tales she has to share.
Another Arthurian retelling. I’ve never read Bernard Cornwell, which is shocking because I work at HarperCollins – who publishes him – and also, I love the Last Kingdom TV series. This is the first book in a trilogy retelling the Arthurian legend. Uther has died and his son and heir Mordred, not Arthur, is in danger from a deadly warlord – Arthur! It’s a mix-up of characters but I like the sound of that.
I’m not a massive fan of Neil Gaiman, but since I love mythology I really want to give his book, Norse Mythology a go. I know the basics of Norse Mythology, i.e. the stories of Thor, Loki and Freya but that’s about it. Most of that information is from Marvel… not the most reliable source. So we’ll see how much I enjoy Nordic mythology after reading this tome by Gaiman.
This quartet was first published in 2004, but has recently been repackaged by HarperCollins and was re-released in 2020. Each book takes part during a point in the Battle for Troy, starting with Paris and Helen stealing away from Sparta. Each of these books is less than 200 pages, making them great quick reads. I think they’re well worth picking up if you’re interested in Greek Myths but aren’t sure where to start with retellings.
And finally a fairytale retelling I love – although I’m yet to read it – I just know I’m going to love it. This is a retelling where it’s been 200 years since Cinderella lived, but every year a ball takes place where 16 years old girls have to find a male partner to marry otherwise their lives are forfeit. But what if you’re homosexual, like Sophia, and in love with another woman? A great LGBT, diverse read that I will read very soon!
There we have it, a few fairytales, legends and myth retellings worth picking up in the New Year.
Do you have any retellings you love? Let me know in the comments below. I adore getting new recommendations.