Mythology opens a reader’s mind to ancient beliefs, unexplained magic, and a creative understanding of the world from which we’ve evolved. Although reading these classic tales of global traditions still provides a mystical and enticing story to this day, many modern-day authors expertly borrow of these cultural myths and mix them into their own narratives. Mythology is so deeply woven into history, that it makes sense to spin off these beliefs into historical fiction tales. Here are just a few of my favorite stories that are interwoven with captivating folklore from ancient times.
THINGS IN JARS is one of my favorite books, for both the intricate, detailed historical recounts and the magical elements Jess Kidd sprinkles throughout the story. This enticing tale involves Irish myths and folklore as detective Bridie Devine is tasked with uncovering the mystery behind Dr. Berwick’s daughter’s disappearance. The catch: Christabel, the missing girl, has magical aquatic powers. Her dangerous and unique abilities have forced her into hiding under the care of Dr. Berwick. But now, rumors of her powers have caught the eye of curiosity collectors, and it’s up to Bridie to track her down.
In this “miraculous and thrilling” (Diane Setterfield, #1 New York Times bestselling author) mystery for fans of The Essex Serpent and The Book of Speculation, Victorian London comes to life as an intrepid female sleuth wades through a murky world of collectors and criminals to recover a remarkable child.
Bridie Devine—flame-haired, pipe-smoking detective extraordinaire—is confronted with the most baffling puzzle yet: the kidnapping of Christabel Berwick, secret daughter of Sir Edmund Athelstan Berwick, and a peculiar child whose reputed supernatural powers have captured the unwanted attention of collectors in this age of discovery.
Winding her way through the sooty streets of Victorian London, Bridie won’t rest until she finds the young girl, even if it means unearthing secrets about her past that she’d rather keep buried. Luckily, her search is aided by an enchanting cast of characters, including a seven-foot-tall housemaid; a melancholic, tattoo-covered ghost; and an avuncular apothecary. But secrets abound in this foggy underworld where nothing is quite what it seems.
Blending darkness and light, Things in Jars is a stunning, “richly woven tapestry of fantasy, folklore, and history” (Booklist, starred review) that explores what it means to be human in inhumane times.
Languoreth’s story in THE LOST QUEEN is rooted in ancient Scottish folklore. As one of the most powerful medieval queens in British history, Languoreth ruled at a time of enormous disruption and bloodshed. Alongside her twin druid brother, Lailoken, the duo plunged into a world of unrest and danger. As fighting ensues, Languoreth meets handsome warrior Maelgwn. Although a passionate connection is evident between the two, Languoreth is promised in marriage to Rhydderch, son of the High King who is sympathetic to the followers of Christianity. As Rhydderch’s wife, Languoreth must assume her duty to fight for the preservation of the Old Way, her kingdom, and all that she holds dear.
CIRCE is a brilliant retelling of the epic poem the ODYESSY, bringing a brand-new perspective from the infamous witch, Circe. After living as the least favored child of Helios, Circe is banished to a deserted island at the first sign of her witchy powers. There she works on honing her craft, while also coming into contact with many larger-than-life figures of mythology, from the Minotaur to Icarus and Daedalus to Odysseus. This story is a beautiful tale of female strength, love, and tragedy.
TALES OF VALHALLA is a vivid retelling of Norse mythology that explores legendary stories and their influence on the Viking world. From J. R. R. Tolkien, whose Middle Earth is heavily indebted to Germanic and Norse mythology, as well as Hollywood and comics culture, authors Martyn Whittock and Hannah Whittock have retold these rich stories and set them in a context within the wider Viking world. If you have yet to dabble in the Norse mythology of the Viking world, this a perfect lively volume with which to begin.
A vivid retelling of Norse mythology that explores these legendary stories and their significance and influence on the Viking world.
Valhalla and its pantheon of gods and heroes have always fascinated readers, whether it is how these tales illuminate the Viking world or influence cultural touchstones like J. R. R. Tolkien, whose Middle Earth is heavily indebted to Germanic and Norse mythology, as well as Hollywood and comics culture.In Tales of Valhalla, the Whittocks have dramatically retold these rich stories and set them in context within the wider Viking world. Including both myths—stories, usually religious, which explain origins, why things are as they are, the nature of the spiritual—and legends—stories which attempt to explain historical events and may involve historical characters but are told in a non-historical way and often include supernatural events—Tales of Valhalla is an accessible and lively volume that brings these hallmarks of world literature to a new generation.
The story of Baba Yaga dates back to Eastern European and Russian folklore. The tale recounts a magical creature that manifests as a deformed woman who hides in the woods and kidnaps children. BABA YAGA LAID AN EGG takes that myth and weaves it into a tale about aging, love, and what it means to be a modern woman, told through the lens of four different fictional women living in Eastern Europe.
Vasilisa has grown up listening to chilling tales about demons and admonitions as a mythological means of honoring the spirits that protect her from this evil. The stories her nurse recounts to her are rooted in ancient Russian folklore, and Vasilisa stands by these words. But when Vasilisa’s mother dies and her father remarries a woman who forbids the family from honoring these spirits, terrible things start to happen. The only way to protect her family is to call upon the dangerous gifts Vasilisa has kept long hidden.
After the children in his village were struck with a mysterious illness, Number Ten Ox called upon master Li Kao to save them. Together they set out to find the Great Root of Power, the only possible cure. Their quest leads the duo on a truly memorable adventure packed with remarkable characters along the way. This is a simple, charming tale of wisdom delightfully askew.
Casiopea longs to be a part of the Jazz Age, city life, but unfortunately her life has been reduced to cleaning her wealthy grandfather’s floor. However, when she accidentally unleashes the Mayan god of death, who forces her to help him reclaim his throne, everything changes. Assisting this god takes Casiopea from her small town in southern Mexico, through the Yucatan jungles, to Mexico City, and, ultimately, to the Mayan underworld.
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