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Dragons to Gods: Top Eight Books on Folklore and Mythology

By Shaniah Shields, Michelle Ye, Leanne Francis and Jia Wen Ho

The realm of folklore and myth is shrouded with intrigue. Sometimes it's meant to impart a lesson, other times it’s to extol a great deed. These ancient stories, told for generations, morph and take form in the books on our shelves. We want to celebrate the books inspired by legends, capturing our own culture and helping us relate to the cultures of people around us.

Daughter of the Moon Goddess by Sue Lynn Tan

Sue Lynn Tan’s Daughter of the Moon Goddess retells the Chinese myth of the moon goddess through the eyes of Xingyin as she travels through the Immortal Realm to save her family. Xingyin encounters friends, foes and everything in between as she tries to navigate a complex political landscape. Tan weaves a variety of myths into the narrative, effectively incorporating the expansive mythological universe of the moon goddess. Against these many backdrops, the reader is given a comprehensive tour of Chinese mythology, while also following Xingyin’s journey of self-discovery. The sequel, Heart of the Sun Warrior, will be available in November.

Gods of Jade and Shadow by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

The award-winning Gods of Jade and Shadow by Silvia Moreno-Garcia, set in the 1920s, explores Mexico’s geographical and mythological landscapes. Casiopea Tun works as a servant in her wealthy grandfather’s house but is swept up into a quest with the Mayan god of death, Hun-Kamé. Moreno-Garcia delves into myths, legends and history to create a sprawling narrative that moves from Mexico to Xibalba. Ultimately a journey of self-determination, Moreno-Garcia frames familial tensions and the need for independence within Mayan mythology and culture.

Children of Blood and Bone: Legacy of Orisha by Tomi Adeyemi

Winner of the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize Older Fiction Award 2019, Children of Blood and Bone is the first part of an epic fantasy trilogy that is set in the mythical African kingdom of Orïsha. The book follows Zélie, the daughter of a great maji, on a journey to restore magic that was stolen from her people. Steeped in West African mythology and Yoruba culture, this is not one to be missed. The explosive second novel, Children of Virtue and Vengeance is also available.

The Girl Who Fell Beneath the Sea by Axie Oh

The Girl Who Fell Beneath the Sea is a captivating novel that blends mythology and folklore with magical fantasy. Mina’s homeland has been devastated by deadly storms for generations and, to appease the Sea God, a maiden is thrown into the sea every year. Many believe that Shim Cheong, Mina’s brother’s beloved, is the legendary true bride, but Mina throws herself into the water instead to save her brother. Shim Cheong is one of Korea’s most famous legends and Oh fashions a vibrant spirit world whilst preserving the classic tale.

The Library of Fates by Aditi Khorana

Described as a “romantic coming-of-age fantasy tale steeped in Indian folklore,” The Library of Fates is inspired by Indian and Macedonian history. Aditi Khorana introduces us to the peaceful kingdom of Shalingar, under siege by the ruthless Emperor Sikander. In an attempt to rescue her home, Princess Amrita enlists the help of the oracle Thala, who instructs her to find the fabled Library of All Things a place which has the power to reverse their fates and restore her beloved kingdom.

A Thousand Beginnings and Endings by Various Authors

Edited by Elsie Chapman and Ellen Oh, Co-Founder of We Need Diverse Books, A Thousand Beginnings and Endings (2018) is a collection of short stories which features the work of sixteen bestselling authors. This series delights us with its stories of star-crossed lovers and deities, reimagining South and East Asian mythology through a variety of genres.

Land of Sand and Song by Joyce Chua

Set in a harsh desert, this book sprouts with life and adventure. Seventeen-year-old Desert Rose is fleeing after her chieftain father is overthrown and captured. She journeys alone to the Oasis Capital to assassinate the person starting the rebellion, Emperor Zhao. Caught up in court politics with no real true allies, Desert Rose endures a series of trials each more dangerous than the last. The book is inspired by Asian fantasy genres Wuxia and Xianxia, as well as the Chinese mythical obsession with the elixir of immortality. Part of a series, the second book to Land of Sand and Song is in the making.

Raybearer by Jordan Ifueko

Inspired by West African folklore and legends, Ifueko constructs a brand-new world in Raybearer. Trapped and trained from a young age to kill, Tarisai was born for one purpose, to kill the Crown Prince of Aritsar. The moment she turns sixteen, Tarisai enters a competition to become one of the eleven council members of the Crown Prince, so that she can get closer to her target. Raybearer is filled with rich world building, strong relationships and solid character development. The second exciting installation to the series, Redemptor, is also on the shelves.


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