Geek Out Over Greek YA Retellings

Kelly Jensen


Kelly is a former librarian and a long-time blogger at STACKED. She's the editor/author of (DON'T) CALL ME CRAZY: 33 VOICES START THE CONVERSATION ABOUT MENTAL HEALTH and the editor/author of HERE WE ARE: FEMINISM FOR THE REAL WORLD. Her next book, BODY TALK, will publish in Fall 2020. Follow her on Instagram @heykellyjensen.

This list of YA Greek retellings was originally published in our YA newsletter, What’s Up In YA. Sign up for it here to get YA news, reviews, deals, and more!

Greek mythology is having a moment. Certainly, it’s been popular for a long time, but with the rise of dark academia as an aesthetic and interest among teens especially, Greek mythology falls in line with the ideas of private schools, classic stories, and slightly foreboding possibilities.

It’s also true that the youngest readers who grew up on Rick Riordan and his mythology are seeking out YA titles as they enter their late teens and early adulthood. That Riordan has his own imprint now, too, has only increased interest in these titles.

YA retellings have used Greek myths for decades, but inspired by the increased desire for these stories, let’s look at both some new books, as well as some from the back list.

For readers who haven’t had interest in Greek mythology, these titles can be a great introduction. And in YA, we’re lucky — more and more of these retellings are being done by authors of color, adding something entirely new, fresh, and far more inclusive to mythology (which, of course, is what makes mythology exciting).

antigoddess book cover

Antigoddess by Kendare Blake

The first in a trilogy, this book follows Cassandra, a modern-day high school student and it turns out she — despite being completely unaware of the gods around her — might be a key piece in a war that’s just about to begin among those same gods and goddesses.

This is fresh, clever take on Athena and Hermes’s story.

beauty's daughter book cover

Beauty’s Daughter by Carolyn Meyer

It cannot be fun to be the daughter of the most beautiful women in the world. Meyer’s book follows Hermione, daughter of Helen of Troy, who stows away on a Greek army ship at the start of the Trojan War. It’s not safe or easy for her in the way it is for her mother, inside the encampment, and Hermione begs for the gods and goddesses to intervene and make amends for her mother’s reckless behavior.

daughter of sparta book cover

Daughter of Sparta by Claire M. Andrews

A gender-twisted remake of Daphne and Apollo, Andrews’s debut — first in a duology — Daphne, who has been training her mind and body to that of a warrior, has her life completely changed when she’s forced to find the nine items stolen from Mount Olympus. If she’s unsuccessful, not only will the power of the gods dissipate, but so will that of mortals . . . and more importantly to Daphne, her brother’s life may come to an end.

lifestyles of gods and monsters book cover

Lifestyles of Gods and Monsters by Emily Roberson

Take the Minotaur legend and combine it with a teen whose family are social media stars and you get this dark, bloody, and fun take on a classic story.

never look back book cover

Never Look Back by Lilliam Rivera

After Hurricane Maria devastated her home in Puerto Rico, Eury is haunted by the tragedy and the evil spirit following her when she moves with her family to the Bronx. But then she meets Pheus, a guitar-playing cool guy who wants to do nothing but love and protect Eury.

But the world threatens to keep them apart.

This is a Latinx take on Orpheus and Eurydice, and if this one really works for you as a reader, another clever take on this myth is All Our Pretty Songs by Sarah McCarry.

the siren book cover

The Siren by Kiera Cass

Cass’s name is likely familiar because of her bestselling “The Selection” series, but before that shot her into book-land stardom, she published The Siren, which was rereleased after she’d made a name for herself.

Kahlen was rescued from the Ocean, but now she has to serve the sentence as a Siren — a single word from her lips could kill. She’s resigned to stay alone, despite how much she wants to spend time around other people, laughing, having fun, and living like the humans around her. But then she meets Akinli and starts to fall. Their connection is undeniable, but because falling in love with a human goes against the rules of the Ocean, things will not be easy.

the vicious deep book cover

The Vicious Deep by Zoraida Córdova 

Córdova’s trilogy follows Tristan, who is sucked into the sea by a tidal wave. It’s here that he learns his family legacy is not what he thought.

This is a funny, clever take on mermaids, and it plays with the Poseidon myth.  

we can be heroes book cover

We Can Be Heroes by Kyrie McCauley

This book just hit shelves and it sounds like such an interesting twist on mythology in a modern, contemporary story. Beck and Vivian aren’t friends, not really, but they are friendly because of their mutual best friend Cassie. When Cassie’s murdered and the town moves on too quickly, Beck and Vivian seek vengeance . . . with the help of Cassie’s ghost AND a true crime podcast.

Greek myths are part of the story both in obvious ways — this is a twist on the Cassandra myth — but also in the ways Beck and Vivian bring attention to Cassie’s story via murals around town.