13 Books Based on Mythology and Folklore

These books will take you on an epic adventure.

I (like a lot of other readers I think) love stories based off mythology and folklore! But often times we get the same stories/myths retold over and over again.

So I decided to compile a list of some unique myth & folklore inspired stories! This list has books from a massive range of cultures – everything from Persian to Portuguese, Malaysian to West African – there’s something for everyone here!

Just a couple notes:

  1. These are not necessarily retellings. Just books inspired by the history, mythology, or folklore of the region. (BUT I do have a retelling version of this coming in the next couple weeks!).
  2. Some of the books on this list were provided to me by the publisher in exchange for a review/feature. I’ve noted those in the description of the book! All opinions are still my own.

Happy reading ❤️

Norse Mythology: The Witch’s Heart by Genevieve Gornichec

Goodreads Page

Rating: 4 out of 5.

ARC was originally provided by Berkley (Ace Books).

While Norse Mythology is pretty common, this is definitely not your typical take on the story! This actually follows the witch who married Loki as the main character – and Odin and his sons are not quite the hero’s myth makes them out to be.

This reimagining is queer, stunningly written, and unlike any other Norse myth you’ve read!

Malaysian Folklore: Black Water Sister by Zen Cho

Goodreads Page

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

ARC provided by Berkley (Ace Books)

This own voices, queer adult urban fantasy is based on Malaysian folklore and culture. This story heavily relies on Malaysian folklore and you get to see a vast range of it throughout – spirits, ghosts, gods, etc.

But on top of that, it also discusses the struggles the main character is going through as a 20-something moving to Malaysia for the first time. Not only are the fantasy elements fantastic, but the discussions of immigration, sexuality, and self discovery are equally as powerful

Hungarian History/Jewish Folklore: The Wold and the Woodsman by Ava Reid

Goodreads Page

ARC provided by William Morrow

One of my most anticipated June releases! This is an own-voices, STANDALONE fantasy debut following “a young pagan woman with hidden magical powers and a one-eyed captain of the Woodsmen as they form an unlikely alliance to thwart a tyrant.”

It has a Jewish culture at the center, vicious magic, and a sizzling romance.

Watch out for my review coming in the next couple weeks! 

East Asian Folklore: Six Crimson Cranes by Elizabeth Lim

Goodreads Page

ARC provided by Knopf Books

This upcoming YA fantasy is a mash up The Wild SwansCinderella, and several East Asian folktales! It’s full of forbidden magic, dragons, and curses set against the backdrop of a fictionalized Japan.

When the main character accidentally exposes her magic, her stepmother turns her brothers into swans and curses her to never speak of it. So she teams up with her betrothed (who may or may not be a dragon) to try and rescue her brothers.

Russian History/Folklore: The Winternight Trilogy by Katherine Arden

Goodreads Page

Probably one of the most popular books series on this list! This reads like a Russian fairytale and is full of magic and gods.

This follows the life of a young woman who has the ability to see the gods. But as Christianity moves into the country, the old gods are slowly disappearing. Leaving an evil force unguarded.

English Legend: Legendborn by Tracy Deonn

Goodreads Page

Rating: 5 out of 5.

ARC originally provided by Margaret K. McElderry Books

Definitely one of the more classic legends on this list, but Legendborn is a wholly unique take on it!

This follows a high school senior who is a doing a residential program at Chapel Hill – and she’s more than happy to escape her life back home. But when Bree finds herself wrapped up in a magical attack, she realizes there may be more to her past and family history than she ever knew possible.

This book is full of legend, lore, mind-blowing magic, and edge of your seat twists and turns. You’ll be hooked from page 1!

Arab, Persian, & South Asian Folklore: The Daevabad Trilogy by S.A. Chakraborty

Goodreads Page

Rating: 4 out of 5.

This book/series can definitely be intimidating – these books are BIG. But this world is so beautifully written and magical that you won’t be able to help being swept into it.

This first book follows a woman who has been disguising herself as a mystical healer and palm reader. But when she accidentally summons a djinn warrior, she discovers magic is real.

Deeply rooted in south asian history and folklore, this story is full of political maneuvering, stunning prose, and enchanting magic.

Greek Mythology: Neon Gods by Katee Robert

Goodreads Page

ARC provided by Sourcebooks Casablanca

If you like your mythology with a sexy twist – this is your book!

Katee Robert is the queen of steam and she’s finally gifting us with a sexy Hades and Persephone retelling. This is also the start of a trilogy and the following 2 books will follow other Greek romances!

Greek Mythology: The Maidens by Alex Michaelides

Goodreads Page

ARC provided by Celadon Books

A more classic take on Greek mythology – this upcoming dark academic thriller follows a therapist who is obsessed with unveiling a Cambridge professor has a murderer. But the Greek Tragedy professor is worshipped and untouchable. And soon the therapist becomes wrapped up in the professor’s secret society of worshipers known as ‘The Maidens’.

Full of murder, obsession, and dark secret societies, this is sure to be just addicting and twisty as The Silent Patient.

Japanese Legend: The Girl From the Well by Rin Chupeco

Goodreads Page

Rating: 4 out of 5.

This YA horror is The Grudge meets Dexter – and it’s just as creepy as it sounds!

This follows a ghost who hunts down and murders those who harm children. But when she meets a boy with strange tattoos, they’re both drawn into a terrifying world of hauntings, creepy dolls, and exorcisms.

Persian Folklore: Girl Serpent Thorn by Melissa Bashardoust

Goodreads Page

Rating: 3 out of 5.

ARC originally provided by Flatiron Books

This modern fairytale follows a princess who is cursed to be poisonous to the touch. When a mysterious man and a demon are brought to the castle, the princess discovers that there may be a way to lift her curse.

This book explores what it means to be ‘good’ and follows Soraya’s journey to discover what kind of person she wants to be. Full of romance, grey morality, and evil curses, this book will leave you desperate for more dark fairytales!

Portuguese Culture/Folklore: A Curse of Roses by Diana Pinguicha

Goodreads Page

Another cursed princess fairytale but this one is based on Portuguese history! This princess turns everything she touches into a flower. The country is being plagued by a famine and she is starving since her magic turns every meal into a bouquet.

So she becomes determined to find a way to reverse her magic – and hopefully create food from flowers.

“Based on Portuguese legend, this own voices historical fantasy is an epic tale of mystery, magic, and making the impossible choice between love and duty”.

West African Mythology: Skin of the Sea by Natasha Bowen

Goodreads Page

A West African fantasy about a woman who serves the gods as a mermaid tasked with collecting the souls of those who die at sea. But when she betrays the gods and saves a boys life, she must venture to the gods’ palace to make amends.

But “danger lurks at every turn, and as Simi draws closer, she must brave vengeful gods, treacherous lands, and legendary creatures”

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