The recent release of the Disney+ television series Percy Jackson and the Olympians has reinvigorated enthusiasm for Greek mythology among fans of all ages. The series (both book and television) follow the story of Percy, the son of Poseidon, the Greek god of the sea. Throughout Percy’s journey, he encounters other demigods and mythical creatures that are the children of different Greek Gods and figures of Greek mythology. As fans learn more about these different mythical characters, I constructed a list of young adult books that capture the spirit of fourteen different Greek gods and goddesses, many of which Percy and his friends encounter on their various quests!
“If nightmares had music, they’d sound like the Storm.”
What book is better suited to the god of weather and sky than one that revolves around an immensely powerful entity known as “the storm”? The Darkening follows Vesper Vale, the child of failed revolutionaries stuck in a city surrounded by a cursed Storm. Her mother was previously sentenced to die by this storm, and when Vesper’s father faces the threat of capture, Vesper is prepared to do anything in her power to save him. This “anything” runs the gamut from practicing her father’s dangerous magic to getting closer with the prince of the kingdom that has endangered her family. However, as she undergoes this quest to save her father, Vesper is subject to shocking revelations about her family and her world, forcing her to reconsider all her plans. Chock-full of romance, adventure, and suspense, The Darkening is a captivating and fantastical read worthy of the “King of the Gods.”
“In my heart, I’m as wild as the ocean that raised me.”
In a manner befitting the tempestuous sea god (and the father of Percy Jackson), To Kill a Kingdom is a compelling tale of love, conflict, and power on the high seas. The novel follows Princess Lira and Prince Elian, two royal heirs from vastly different kingdoms: one on land and one on sea. Prince Elian is dedicated to eliminating all sirens from the ocean, and when he saves a woman from drowning, she promises him to help him on this mission. Unbeknownst to him, she has ulterior motives. Princess Lira is a siren forced to become human as punishment for the murder of a fellow siren; she is tasked with capturing Prince Elian’s heart and bringing it to the sea queen, lest she remain a human forever. As Lira and Elian embark on their quests and their paths cross, a vivid and compelling tale unfolds. The imaginative world Christo builds is one worthy of the god of the sea.
“Yadriel’d once asked his mom why they didn’t just take all of someone’s pain when they were sad. She had explained it was important to let people feel grief and mourn the loss of a loved one.”
In a novel befitting the Greek god of the dead and underworld, Cemetery Boys follows Yadriel as he summons a ghost that he can’t seem to get rid of. Yadriel’s family has difficulty accepting his gender when he comes out to them as trans. Determined to gain their approval and prove himself as a real brujo, Yadriel performs a summoning ritual that unintentionally brings Julian Diaz into his life. Julian, a former peer at Yadriel’s school, is intent on understanding how he died and refuses to leave before he does so. Yadriel reluctantly agrees to help Julian solve the mystery of his death, and the two form a strong convention as they work to accomplish their respective goals. This novel delicately explores topics of LGBTQ+ acceptance, racism, family relationships, community and love, all wrapped up in an engaging paranormal mystery.
Check out our review of Cemetery Boys here!
“It’s not enough to find someone you love. You have to be ready for that love, and ready to make changes to welcome it into your life.”
Hera is the goddess of marriage, women, and family, and Ayesha at Last, a modern reinvention of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, perfectly highlights these ideas. The novel follows Khalid Mirza and Ayesha Shamsi, two Muslims living in Canada who constantly engage in conflict over their different interpretations of faith, family and marriage. Ayesha is dead set on pursuing her career as a poet and finding a husband on her own time, while Khalid is content letting his mother arrange his marriage (and almost all other elements of his life) for him. However, when the two are forced to work together at their mosque, tensions (and attractions) rise, and the two ultimately have to confront their feelings for each other. This story applies some of the themes from Austen’s work, including family relationships, socioeconomic status, and overcoming barriers to love. However, Jalaluddin transforms the narrative to address more timely and diverse concerns, shining a light on discrimination and injustice members of the Muslim community face. A nuanced yet beautiful portrait of love, marriage, and family, Ayesha at Last is a compelling and thoughtful portrayal of many of the ideals that Hera represented in Greek myth.
“There will come a time when you meet someone who makes even the mundane things seem magical.”
Aphrodite, the goddess of love, passion, and beauty, would find a connection with the women of The Davenports. Marquis’ novel features the Davenports, a wealthy Black family navigating life in the early 20th century. Four women with some connection to the Davenport family are the central focus of the story, each experiencing their own stories of passion, love, and heartbreak. Olivia, the eldest Davenport daughter, must face the choice between family obligation and romantic connection when she falls for a civil rights leader. Helen, a younger Davenport, is far more interested in her passion for automotive repair than love, until she takes an interest in her sister’s suitor. The Davenports’ childhood friend, Amy-Rose, is stuck in her desire for a love forbidden to her, falling for a Davenport brother, and Olivia’s best friend Ruby feels a similar attraction. These complex narratives tie together as the Davenports and their friends fall in and out of love and conflict, all the while working to uncover what they truly want out of life. In a manner perfectly suited to the tastes of the goddess of love, passion and romance combine to create a compelling and impactful novel.
“The problem with knowledge, is its inexhaustible craving. The more of it you have, the less you feel you know.”
The Atlas Six takes place in a world where a group of magical caretakers, known as the Alexandrian Society, watches over the knowledge of the world’s ancient civilizations. Every decade, a host of new and talented magical candidates are selected to be guardians of this knowledge. While six are invited, only five can be initiated by the end of the year, creating an environment ripe with tension. The vivid world Blake paints is easy to get lost in, and while some of the science behind the world building can be hard to follow, the overall narrative is incredibly compelling. The story is made even more engaging through the interesting and diverse cast of characters that are competing to be initiated into this Alexandrian society. Conflict, romance, and destruction ensue as the candidates engage in a year-long competition, leaving readers on the edge of their seat to see which of the six will achieve their goals. With this competitive aspect, a large part of the book is focused on battles of wits and will, contests worthy of the goddess of wisdom herself.
Check out our interview with Olivie Blake (aka Alexene Farol Follmuth) here!
“The world, that understandable and lawful world, was slipping away.”
After a plane crash leaves a group of schoolboys stranded on an unknown island, they are left to fend for themselves with no semblance of adult supervision. The boys initially celebrate this newfound freedom, but a lack of rules and order ultimately causes their fragile new society to descend into total chaos. Boys engage in acts of violence and rage, transforming from relatively well-behaved school children to unruly and cruel hunters with no regard for morality. In this allegorical novel, Golding uses symbols to diffuse themes of civilization versus anarchy, the threats posed by mob mentality, and the loss of childhood innocence. However, one of the most prominent, overarching themes that the novel reflects is that of war, the very idea that Ares represents. The novel was written in the aftermath of WWII, and takes place in a world being torn apart by nuclear war. Within all this context, the boys on the island engage in their own types of warfare, both physical and psychological.
“There’s no such thing as a mind for one subject or another. You have a mind that works, and works well. So use it.”
When going through her high school checklist, joining the male-dominated robotics club was not a part of Bel’s plan. When she demonstrates an engineering aptitude in class, she is forced into the extracurricular, much to her chagrin. Mateo Luna, the captain of the robotics club, immediately takes notice of both Bel’s talent and her beauty and is increasingly drawn to her. However, despite Bel’s clear talent in the field, she questions her ability to fit into a STEM space that seems determined to exclude her and struggles to navigate her own feelings for Mateo. Blake’s YA novel explores the difficulties women and girls of color experience in STEM while also weaving in a touching story of young love and vulnerability. My Mechanical Romance encapsulates the spirit of the Greek God of artisans, craftsmen, and metallurgy in its focus on both engineering and resiliency.
“His soul might be a sun. I’ve never met anyone who had the sun for a soul.”
Twins Jude and Noah used to be incredibly close. Now, as they compete for the attention of their mother and admission to an arts school while also struggling coming to terms with their own identities, the two hardly speak. Told through alternating perspectives at different points in time (Noah in early years, Jude in later years), the novel examines the complexities of family relationships and adolescence from different points of view. Readers are given access to firsthand accounts of the twins’ relationship evolution over time, gaining a deeper insight into separate points of conflict and resolution. The voices of both Noah and Jude are powerful and perceptive in their respective parts of the novel, making the story come to life and keeping readers deeply invested. Apart from the obvious reference to the sun in the title, this book embodies the spirit of the sun god through its emphasis on personal truths, healing, art, and the poetry of Nelson’s writing that ties the piece together.
“Because here was the truth of walking through fire: it was excruciating, and it burned, and it turned you to ash. But flames did more than burn. Flames also brought light. And witches, Elliott had decided, were like the mythical Phoenix bird. Witches weren’t only meant to burn—witches were meant to rise.”
DeRose’s debut YA novel explores themes central to the identity of Artemis, like feminine power, sisterhood, witchcraft, and justice. Told through the alternating perspectives of a group of high school girls who have experienced sexual assault, the story follows these young women as they form a coven and seek to punish those who have wronged them. Empowered by a spell book and taking on this mantle of justice, the girls hex their respective assailants, causing alarming consequences at times. As they continue on their path of vigilantism, the girls form a strong connection, and find themselves depending on and learning more about each other through the process. However, as the spells they cast (and their consequences) continue to escalate in power and magnitude, the girls must make a decision about how far they are willing to go in the name of “justice.” This story is at times both heart-wrenching and empowering, conveying the frequent cruelty of the world towards women and the unending strength found in sisterhood.
“Welcome, welcome to Caraval! The grandest show on land or by sea. Inside you’ll experience more wonders than most people see in a lifetime. You can sip magic from a cup and buy dreams in a bottle. But before you fully enter into our world, you must remember it’s all a game.”
Set within a mysterious and elaborate performance, Caraval explores the delights and revelry often attributed to Dionysus, the Greek god of festivities, madness, and theater. Scarlett and her sister Tella have only ever known the small island they live on with their heartless father, but Scarlett has always dreamed of witnessing the once-a-year performance that is Caraval. When her father forces her into an arranged marriage, Scarlett fears that these dreams are forever dashed, until Tella surprises her with a trip to the show. However, when Tella is kidnapped at Caraval, Scarlett must question everything she has heard about the performance and embark on a quest to save her sister. Rich with adventure, dynamic characters, mystical settings, and elaborate entertainment, this story embodies the wild and distinct spirit of Dionysus. Garber’s tale is incredibly immersive and impossible to put down, keeping readers guessing about what will happen to Tella and Scarlett at every turn.
Check out our thoughts on Caraval and the rest of Stephanie Garber’s books here!
“She was made up of more, too. She was the books she read in the library. She was the flower in the brown bowl. Part of her life was made from the tree growing rankly in the yard. She was the bitter quarrels she had with her brother whom she loved dearly. She was Katie’s secret, despairing weeping. She was the shame of her father stumbling home drunk. She was all of these things and of something more.”
Told in five different “books,” A Tree Grows in Brooklyn follows Francie Nolan, a young girl growing up in New York and navigating life in the early 20th century. Francie and her family experience a series of struggles characteristic of the time; the novel addresses inner-city poverty, discrimination against women and immigrants, child labor, war, and more, all through the lens of the Nolan’s family life. Smith paints a poignant picture of life during this period, capturing the simultaneous love, pain, beauty, and frustration Francie experiences in growing up in such an environment. The rich family dynamics and the beautiful growth of the novel’s female protagonist embody the central values of Hestia, Greek goddess of the family hearth.
“In the meantime, I hope you will find your place, wherever you are. Even in the silence, I hope you will find the words you need to share.”
No book could be better suited to the messenger of the gods and protector of human travelers than a tale of two young journalists who form a powerful connection through the enchanted letters they send one another. Amidst a devastating war fought between gods that has already claimed her brother as a solider, Iris Winnow is struggling to hold her life together. Her only hope is being promoted to columnist at the newspaper she works for, but her rival, Roman Kitt, has his eyes on the same position. Little does Iris know that the letters she writes to her brother are enchanted and have found their way to Kitt. The two rivals form a strong and passionate connection through this line of communication, one which carries them both to the front lines and guides them through a world embroiled in war. Their bond, established through these letters, speaks to the beauty and power of the written word, and Ross’s writing is incredibly fluid and poetic. For fans of the academic rivals-to-lovers trope and fantastical worlds, this book is a magical read that is nearly impossible to put down.
“Imagine plants are kind of like people. Tell a person they’re worthless, hurt their feelings everyday—they’d wither, too.”
Demeter, the goddess of agriculture, shares a spirit with this urban fantasy by Kalynn Baron. This Poisoned Heart follows Briseis, a young girl with an incredible gift: she can make plants grow with just one touch. Following the death of her aunt, Bri inherits a rural New York estate which contains eerie mysteries, secrets, strange rules, and a collection of the world’s deadliest plants. Hoping to learn to control her power in this new environment, Bri learns she is capable of creating magical healing elixirs, but this talent soon comes with a price: a group of enemies seeks Bri in their quest to create an immortality elixir. It is up to Bri and her gifts to stop this group from gaining the draft they seek. With twists and turns at every step, this novel’s spirit of adventure and mystery will keep readers enthralled. A beautiful combination of fairytale, mythology, detailed plant descriptions, and elemental magic, Bayron’s novel speaks to the beauty and power of the natural world.
Sam Parker, Pine Reads Review Writer