Golden Greek Retellings to Look out For
By Juliette Tulloch and Maisie Jane Garvin
Since last year, the demand for Greek mythology retellings has risen, either retold in their own time or reimagined for the modern day. The blue and gold details on the book covers make a beautiful collection that will make any mythology fanatics happy. Authors such as Madeline Miller and Stephen Fry are well-established in this particular genre, but we have recently seen the publication of some new additions that are sure to get our imaginations running wild...
Pandora’s Jar: Women in the Greek Myths by Natalie Haynes
From the author that brought us the bestselling novel A Thousand Ships, Haynes returns with a retelling of the most prominent female figures in Greek mythology. Placing women at the forefront of originally male-dominated perspectives. Each chapter encompasses a different tale, including Artemis, Hera, Mede,a and of course, Pandora. The light blue hardback is printed with simple gold lines depicting Pandora’s striking eyes. And yes, the title, Pandora’s Jar refers to a mistranslation in the 16th century of Pandora’s Box, when it was originally a jar. This is the first of Hayne’s non-fiction works and it is a thorough dive into how feminists of today’s age view the women at the heart of these Greek tragedies.
The Children of Jocasta by Natalie Haynes
Published in 2018, The Children of Jocasta is another novel by Natalie Haynes. The story follows Jocasta and Ismene, two overlooked female characters in the Greek mythology of Oedipus. Jocasta is ordered to marry an older man and stranger, the King of Thebes, whilst Ismene is attacked at her palace. The book follows these two tragedies from a feminist perspective putting a modern and interesting spin on an ancient story. The cover represents this tragic unravelling of the women’s stories. Though they are shown as oblivious Greek statues, they stand out in bold orange, reaching across the page to one another. Recommended by Madeline Miller as “passionate and gripping,” this is a must-read for those who love the genre.
Ariadne by Jennifer Saint
This Greek retelling follows the lives of Theseus, Ariadne and the Minotaur. Ariadne has often been mentioned in passing, but she has not been explored in depth. The hardback edition of Saint’s debut novel is adorned with stunning gold leaves and a contrasting royal blue, a simple yet elegant design that emphasises the power of Ariadne’s name. First published in March 2021, it is clear that the hardback edition was designed with previous successful books in mind to draw in the specific audience. The paperback version is just as beautiful, using the colour block theme that has popularised front covers since last summer.
The Women of Troy by Pat Barker
Following her bestselling novel, The Silence of the Girls, this sequel continues the well-known story of the fall of Troy and the Greek’s triumph. The hardback edition is set for release on 26 August this year, so make sure to mark the date in your calendars! The narrative follows the story of Briseis (fans of Miller’s The Song of Achilles will be especially pleased with this) and her story after surviving the Trojan War. The front cover of The Women of Troy is especially poignant, with the overshadowing Trojan horse above the women figures, a constant reminder of the ten-year war. The subtle colours of purple upon the cover perhaps symbolises the magic and mystery in this Greek Mythology retelling.
Looking for similar books that have elements of fantasy but are situated in a different era and place? Sistersong by Lucy Holland is based on the folk ballad The Two Sisters and is set in the Dark Ages of Britain. Also, Elodie Harper’s debut, The Wolf Den, follows main protagonist Amara and her life after being sold to a brothel in Pompeii.