The best female-led books rooted in world mythologies

Gabriela Houston Author Of The Second Bell
By Gabriela Houston

Who am I?

I'm a Polish, London-based writer of Slavic-folklore-inspired fantasy novels for adults (The Second Bell, out from Angry Robot Books) and children (The Wind Child, published by Uclan). I write stories of families, grief, motherhood, and communities, steeped in the Ancient Slavic lore and set against the beauty and danger of the natural (and supernatural) world.


I wrote...

The Second Bell

By Gabriela Houston,

Book cover of The Second Bell

What is my book about?

In an isolated mountain community, sometimes a child is born with two hearts. Such a child—a strigais considered a dangerous demon, which must be abandoned on the edge of the forest to protect the community. The only choice the child's mother can make is whether to leave her home with her infant, or stay behind and try to forget. Miriat made her choice. She and her nineteen-year-old striga daughter, Salka, now live a life of deprivation and hardship in a remote village, where to follow the impulses of the other heart is forbidden. But Salka is headstrong and young, and when threatened with losing everything, she is forced to explore the depths of her true nature, testing the bonds between mother and child. 

The books I picked & why

Shepherd is reader supported. We may earn an affiliate commission when you buy through links on our website. This is how we fund this project for readers and authors (learn more).

The Witch's Heart

By Genevieve Gornichec,

Book cover of The Witch's Heart

Why this book?

This thoughtful Norse-mythology-inspired story delves into the often-overlooked plight of Angrboda, the mother of monsters. Tricked, burnt, betrayed, Angrboda’s love for her children drives her to defy the gods who fear her. Gornichec fills in the gaps in the mythological stories and focuses on their omissions, which is always a rich area for a fiction writer to explore. Raw and unflinching, the book gives voice to the voiceless.


Spinning Silver

By Naomi Novik,

Book cover of Spinning Silver

Why this book?

This beautiful story of family, sacrifice, and courage to choose your own path is deeply steeped in Slavic folklore. Told mostly from the point of view of three women, a princess, a peasant girl, and a Jewish moneylender, the book effortlessly weaves in the supernatural elements. The characters are all believable and nuanced which to me is an absolute must in any book. A great read.


East of the Sun, West of the Moon

By Jackie Morris,

Book cover of East of the Sun, West of the Moon

Why this book?

Stunningly illustrated by Morris, this retelling of the Scandinavian folktale incorporates the stories of refugees and the search for love, and freedom. The bravery of the main character, the force of her determination, and the courage to challenge the expectations of the story’s narrative make for a fascinating read.


This Poison Heart

By Kalynn Bayron,

Book cover of This Poison Heart

Why this book?

A powerful story of mothers, daughters, adoptive families, and loyalty the book draws inspiration from Greek mythology. The main character is a teenage girl with a magical affinity for plants. As she unexpectedly comes into an inheritance, for the first time her abilities seem to hold more promise than a threat. A highly readable story.


Legendborn

By Tracy Deonn,

Book cover of Legendborn

Why this book?

A modern take on the Arthurian legends, this nuanced story tackles the subjects of grief, maternal lines, and heritage.

A college student struggles with the pain of the loss of her mother, just as she grapples with the mysterious abilities which woke within her. As she tries to settle into the student life she discovers that a secret society carries in it the truth of the ancient myths, and she comes to terms with the reality and the burden of her inheritance.


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in Norse mythology, North Carolina, and secrets?

5,809 authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about Norse mythology, North Carolina, and secrets.

Norse Mythology Explore 53 books about Norse mythology
North Carolina Explore 60 books about North Carolina
Secrets Explore 106 books about secrets

And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

We think you will like The Scorpio Races, The Thief, and The Madman's Daughter if you like this list.