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Books about Greek mythology for the ultimate escapist reading

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Hollie Richardson
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From Madeline Miller’s Circe and Natalie Hayne’s The Song Of Achilles, here are nine books based on ancient Greek myths for a bit of escapist reading.

Romance. Vengeance. Monsters. Beauty. Battles. Sex. Gods. Greek mythology has all the ingredients for beautiful and gripping stories that people have devoured for thousands of years. From Theseus and the Minotaur to Pandora’s Box and The Battle of Troy, the tales of ancient Greece continue to grip audiences around the world. It always has been, and always will be, the ultimate storytelling. 

But that doesn’t stop modern minds from retelling famous myths in new and exciting ways. You only need to look at Netflix’s animation series, Blood Of Zeus, which was a surprise ratings hit in the second lockdown. But if you really want to get lost in a world of Greek mythology retellings, there are plenty of books to dive into…

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Netflix’s Blood of Zeus: is it the Greek mythology escapism we didn’t know we needed?

Set against a backdrop of Greece’s blue seas and sandy islands, these modern myths are the perfect way to escape for a while, especially during the pandemic. Madeline Miller’s Circe and Natalie Hayne’s The Song Of Achilles are just a couple of recent examples to get you in the mood…

  • Ariadne

    Ariadne by Jennifer Saint
    Books about Greek mythology: Ariadne by Jennifer Saint

    Jennifer Saint gives voice to the women of Theseus and the Minotaur with her debut, Ariadne. As princess of Crete and daughter of the fearsome King Minos, Ariadne grows up hearing the sounds of the Minotaur from the Labyrinth beneath the palace. The Minotaur – Minos’s greatest shame and Ariadne’s brother – demands blood every year.

    When Theseus, Prince of Athens, arrives in Crete as a sacrifice to the beast, Ariadne falls in love with him. But helping Theseus kill the monster means betraying her family and country, as well as getting the attention of the gods. 

    Buy Ariadne by Jennifer Saint from Bookshop.org for £13.94

  • The Song Of Achilles

    Madeline Miller
    Books about Greek mythology: Song Of Achilles by Madeline Miller.

    Before Circe, Madeline Miller captured imaginations with The Song Of Achilles. An adaptation of Homer’s Iliad as told from the perspective of Patroclus, it tells the story of his love for the infamous warrior Achilles. 

    Buy The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller from Bookshop.org for £9.29

  • The Maidens

    The Maidens by Alex Michaelides.
    Books about Greek mythology: The Maidens by Alex Michaelides.

    Bringing Greek legends into the modern world, Alex Michaelides’s The Maidens is a thriller which weaves together Greek mythology, psychology, and murder. 

    It tells the story of a handsome and charismatic Greek Tragedy professor at Cambridge University, Edward Fosca, who therapist Mariana Andros is convinced is a murderer. 

    Buy The Maidens by Alex Michaelides from Bookshop.org for £13.94

  • Pandora's Jar

    Pandora's Jar by Natalie Haynes
    Books about Greek mythology: Pandora's Jar by Natalie Haynes

    Following A Thousand Ships, Natalie Hayne revisited the women of Greek reassessed the stories in Pandora’s Jar. Taking Pandora and her jar (the box came later) as the starting point, she puts the women of the Greek myths on equal footing with the menfolk.

    Buy Pandora’s Jar by Natalie Haynes from Bookshop.org for £18.60

  • The Secret History by Donna Tartt.
    Books about Greek mythology: The Secret History by Donna Tartt.

    Donna Tartt’s The Secret History follows a group of wealthy students at a liberal-arts college in 1980s Vermont, who study ancient Greek under the tutelage of a enigmatic classics professor Julian Morrow. They are so obsessed with the power of these myths that they literally find themselves in a modern Greek tragedy. 

    Buy The Secret History by Donna Tartt from Bookshop.org for £8.36

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Hollie Richardson

Hollie is a digital writer at Stylist.co.uk, mainly covering the daily news on women’s issues, politics, celebrities and entertainment. She also keeps an ear out for the best podcast episodes to share with readers. Oh, and don’t even get her started on Outlander…