The best mythic fantasy novels

Why am I passionate about this?

I have been studying Celtic myth and history since I was in college and took a class on Arthurian literature. Drawing heavily from Irish and Welsh lore to build my “land beyond the veil” known as the Five Quarters, I have always been intrigued by the Celtic view of the land of the dead as a distinct world to which we go and then return, like two sides of the mirrored surface of a well. I hope you enjoy these mythic fantasy books as much as I did!


I wrote...

Three Wells of the Sea

By Terry Madden,

Book cover of Three Wells of the Sea

What is my book about?

When high school English teacher Hugh Cavendish is summoned back across the well between worlds, he finds his killer sitting on his throne and invaders at his shore. He was a failure as a king in his last life. Why does this druid think he can fix things now? But this world holds everything he has longed for—vengeance, love, and a second chance at all of them. For he is bound to this land by blood magic and something far stronger.

He soon realizes he wasn't the only one who crossed the well. Someone has followed him here, and they are set on taking him back. But first, Cavendish vows to set things right with his land, his people, and his own soul.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of American Gods

Terry Madden Why did I love this book?

Gaiman doesn’t just incorporate one myth into his story; he goes for them all and brings all the gods to America.

This novel defies categorizing. I have always been interested in probing the nature of religion and humanity’s invention of gods. How did we first encounter them, and are they still relevant in today’s world? How does the nature of story itself relate to the lives of the gods?

All of these points are dealt with in this unique and entirely new introduction to some very old gods. I found it not only highly entertaining but thought-provoking.

By Neil Gaiman,

Why should I read it?

11 authors picked American Gods as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Now a STARZ® Original Series – Season 3 premiere in January 2021

“Pointed, occasionally comic, often scary, consistently moving and provocative….American Gods is strewn with secrets and magical visions.”—USA Today

Newly updated and expanded with the author’s preferred text. A modern masterpiece from the multiple-award-winning master of innovative fiction, Neil Gaiman.

First published in 2001, American Gods became an instant classic, lauded for its brilliant synthesis of “mystery, satire, sex, horror, and poetic prose” (Washington Post) and as a modern phantasmagoria that “distills the essence of America” (Seattle Post-Intelligencer). It is the story of Shadow—released from prison just days after…


Book cover of A Court of Thorns and Roses

Terry Madden Why did I love this book?

This inventive novel is a retelling of Beauty and the Beast, but what I enjoyed most about it is the portrayal of the “Fairy Folk” of myth. The Fae.

In most myths, we encounter the dark side of the Fae, the gruesome and frightening side. In modern times we have reduced these creatures to flower fairies. What I loved about this novel is that Maas sticks with the dangerous and malevolent portrayal of these immortals, and she weaves a beautiful mythic tale into their world.

By Sarah J. Maas,

Why should I read it?

14 authors picked A Court of Thorns and Roses as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 13, 14, 15, and 16.

What is this book about?

Experience Feyre Archeron's journey all over again with the beautiful collector's edition of A Court of Thorns and Roses, the seductive first book in the #1 New York Times bestselling series by Sarah J. Maas, featuring a deluxe new package, an updated map, ribbon pull, and more! When nineteen-year-old Feyre kills a wolf in the woods, a beast-like creature arrives to demand retribution for it. Dragged to a treacherous magical land she only knows about from legends, Feyre discovers that her captor is not an animal, but Tamlin-one of the lethal, immortal faeries who once ruled their world. As she…


Book cover of Circe

Terry Madden Why did I love this book?

I loved this book as much for the writing itself as the story. Miller creates a lush world of numinous magic.

I could not stop listening to this retelling of the life of Circe. She was the daughter of the sun god and the most feared sorceress of her time. She was given a bad rap by history, but I felt like I understood her and could see into her heart and mind.

In addition, the worldbuilding is wonderful. I felt like I was taken to ancient Greece. 

By Madeline Miller,

Why should I read it?

33 authors picked Circe as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The international Number One bestseller from the author of The Song of Achilles, shortlisted for the Women's Prize for Fiction

Woman. Witch. Myth. Mortal. Outcast. Lover. Destroyer. Survivor. CIRCE.

In the house of Helios, god of the sun and mightiest of the Titans, a daughter is born. Circe is a strange child - not powerful and terrible, like her father, nor gorgeous and mercenary like her mother. Scorned and rejected, Circe grows up in the shadows, at home in neither the world of gods or mortals. But Circe has a dark power of her own: witchcraft. When her gift threatens…


Book cover of The Mists of Avalon

Terry Madden Why did I love this book?

I read this book so many years ago, but it has stayed with me. It struck me then, as it does now, as revolutionary in that it was one of the first retellings of the Arthurian myth from the female perspective.

I took a class on Arthurian Literature in university, and the tales of the period are obviously male-dominated. But The Mists of Avalon showed me a way into the female characters in the tale, and they are fascinating.

By Marion Zimmer Bradley,

Why should I read it?

10 authors picked The Mists of Avalon as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Here is the tragic tale of the rise and fall of Camelot - but seen through the eyes of Camelot's women: The devout Gwenhwyfar, Arthur's Queen; Vivane, High priestess of Avalon and the Lady of the Lake; above all, Morgaine, possessor of the sight, the wise, the wise-woman fated to bring ruin on them all...


Book cover of Last Call

Terry Madden Why did I love this book?

As I read this book, it made me think of American Gods. The presence of god-like forces of good and evil interfering with human lives is the basis for all mythic stories, and I love the wit and humor with which Powers delivers this tale.

The story references myth directly, and the random chance so loved by the gods is a driving force behind this novel of redemption and crazy, universal connections. 

By Tim Powers,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Last Call as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Twenty years ago Scott Crane abandoned his career as a professional poker player and went into hiding, after a weird high-stakes game played with Tarot cards. But now the cards - and the supernatural powers behind them - have found him again.

Crane's father killed gangster Bugsy Siegel in 1948 to become the Fisher King, and to keep that power he is determined to kill his son. Now Scott Crane must cross the Mojave Desert to his father's Perilous Chapel in Las Vegas, and take up the cards again for one last poker duel. And the stakes are the highest…


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Api's Berlin Diaries: My Quest to Understand My Grandfather's Nazi Past

By Gabrielle Robinson,

Book cover of Api's Berlin Diaries: My Quest to Understand My Grandfather's Nazi Past

Gabrielle Robinson Author Of Api's Berlin Diaries: My Quest to Understand My Grandfather's Nazi Past

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

Author Retired english professor

Gabrielle's 3 favorite reads in 2023

What is my book about?

Gabrielle found her grandfather’s diaries after her mother’s death, only to discover that he had been a Nazi. Born in Berlin in 1942, she and her mother fled the city in 1945, but Api, the one surviving male member of her family, stayed behind to work as a doctor in a city 90% destroyed.

Gabrielle retraces Api’s steps in the Berlin of the 21st century, torn between her love for the man who gave her the happiest years of her childhood and trying to come to terms with his Nazi membership, German guilt, and political responsibility.

Api's Berlin Diaries: My Quest to Understand My Grandfather's Nazi Past

By Gabrielle Robinson,

What is this book about?

"This is not a book I will forget any time soon."
Story Circle Book Reviews

Moving and provocative, Api's Berlin Diaries offers a personal perspective on the fall of Berlin 1945 and the far-reaching aftershocks of the Third Reich.

After her mother's death, Robinson was thrilled to find her beloved grandfather's war diaries-only to discover that he had been a Nazi.

The award-winning memoir shows Api, a doctor in Berlin, desperately trying to help the wounded in cellars without water or light. He himself was reduced to anxiety and despair, the daily diary his main refuge. As Robinson retraces Api's…


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