Mythology and other legends often explore universal truths about humanity, even ones that we would prefer to ignore. These novels take the original tales and put new spins on characters and stories that mankind has never forgotten.
American Gods by Neil Gaiman is a favorite of mine, but I freely admit being a Gaiman fan girl. He is an amazing storyteller and just draws his readers into the worlds that he creates. If you have the opportunity to listen to his work on audio book I highly recommend it, as he does his own narrations and does a phenomenal job. In American Gods Gaiman uses players from Norse, Hindu, Egyptian and African legends and throws them into today’s world with their personalities and scheming fully intact. Readers follow Shadow Moon, released from prison one day after his wife is killed in a car accident. He says goodbye to his old life and accepts the job offer from a strange new acquaintance. Shadow is drawn into the strange reality of gods living in America and their battles amongst themselves.
The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul by Douglas Adams is the sequel to Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency. We see the intrepid Dirk Gently investigating a man possessed by Odin. The novel is twisting and rambling but in an indescribably good way. Adams gave the world a novel that is both confusing and thought invoking. Every single time I pick up this book I see something that that I do not remember from previous readings. Puns and one liners will keep you laughing while the Norse gods wondering around in society will get you thinking about the nature of man, immortality and what people want versus what they need.
The Lightning Thief and the entire Percy Jackson and the Olympians series by Rick Riordan are found in the young adult section. The series is well known now due to the movie, but the books are still well worth reading. Do not skip the books just to watch the movie; the books are worth reading and adding to your collection. Young Percy Jackson just can not seem to blend in with ‘normal’ kids. He gets expelled from schools for fighting with monsters that only he can see. Soon he is sent to Camp Half-Blood where he learns the reason behind his problems, and that his is the child of a god. Prophesy quests and godly feuds fuel this action pact series that is a great read for everyone from around age nine and up. Older readers might also enjoy Oh. My Gods. by Tera Lynn Childs which is another series featuring children of the gods, but this time from a teenage girl’s perspective.
Other fantastic novels of this sort include Radiant Darkness by Emily Whitman which retells the story of Persephone and Hades as well as The King Must Die by Mary Renault, The Firebrand by Marion Zimmer Bradley, any books in P.C. Cast’s Goddess series, Quicksilver by Stephanie Spinner and Ilium by Dan Simmons.