The best books about gods and goddesses

9 authors have picked their favorite books about gods and goddesses and why they recommend each book.

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Book cover of The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms

The world-building in The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms explores how the powering of societies can come at a human cost—though in this case, the humans have outsourced that cost to the gods. Enslaved by the Arameri aristocratic family that rules over the Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, gods and godlings power the Arameri’s control of the city of Sky, allowing the city to flourish but at the expense of the common people’s or the gods’ agency. Compared to the other books listed here, this tale is more concerned with the structures of class and authority (and less so utility) that help turn the gears of society, but its examinations of these aspects of civics are still insightful and, ultimately, optimistic.

The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms

By N.K. Jemisin,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.


Who am I?

Having previously worked in the Urban Affairs side of academia and drawing heavily on my own experience living in the city of Portland, OR while writing my book, Moonshine, I’ve become very interested in how fantasy authors find creative ways to incorporate the supernatural elements of the genre with the extremely mundane aspects of urban planning and civics. I find that the most immersive fantasy worlds are the ones that concern themselves with the gritty details of how their societies operate on a basic logistical level, and I think a well-written fantasy city can very much shine as a character in its own right.


I wrote...

Moonshine

By Jasmine Gower,

Book cover of Moonshine

What is my book about?

In the flourishing metropolis of Soot City, progressive ideals reign, and the old ways of magic and liquid mana are forbidden. Daisy Dell is a Modern Girl – stylish, educated, and independent – keen to establish herself in the city but reluctant to give up the taboo magic inherited from her grandmother.

Her new job takes her to unexpected places, and she gets more attention than she had hoped for. When bounty hunters start combing the city for magicians, Daisy must decide whether to stay with her new employer – even if it means revealing the grim source of her dazzling powers.

The Library at Mount Char

By Scott Hawkins,

Book cover of The Library at Mount Char

This is one of my favorite dark fantasy books. This book is filled with acolytes that are imbued with the power of great deities doing the bidding of a cruel godlike being. It takes some time to unravel the truth in this book simply because the kids we follow don’t understand it themselves. I am still in awe of this beautiful, complex storyline. This is a book that isn’t talked about enough. Once you get to the talking lions, you start to understand how it all fits together like a thousand-piece puzzle. Once you finish it, you’ll be begging for a sequel just like me.

The Library at Mount Char

By Scott Hawkins,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Library at Mount Char as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.


Who am I?

I love reading about monsters as much as I love writing about them. Unfortunately, it also means I’m super picky about the dark fantasy I read. These authors don’t disappoint. Dark fantasy is a genre that I continue to return to, whether it’s aimed at teens or adults. I’ve had to deal with many monsters in my life and I understand that they can take many shapes and forms. These books are some of the very best I’ve read and I hope you’ll enjoy them as much as I have. 


I wrote...

The Seeking

By Marlena Frank,

Book cover of The Seeking

What is my book about?

Each Seeking, the magic that protects the town of Carra must be renewed, which means the children of the Exalted Family must go into hiding. Whether through disguise or bribe, through trusted friends or perfect hiding places, every child of the Priest family must avoid capture for the full day of The Seeking.

When things go wrong with the renewal, it’s up to seventeen-year-old Dahlia, the middle child of the Priest family, and her girlfriend, Bisa, to escape Carra and find the magical beings responsible for the protection. They must learn who would require such a cruel game every year and if the protection of the Gray People is really worth such a price. What they will discover is far worse.

Three Parts Dead

By Max Gladstone,

Book cover of Three Parts Dead

I’m drawn to fantasy stories set in modern-day analogues because I’m fascinated to see the ways that having magic and monsters as a fact of life would shape a world from the ground up. I’m particularly interested in the impact on more mundane matters like legal contracts and labor disputes. Perhaps no one dives into this topic with as much gusto as Max Gladstone. In Three Parts Dead, we meet necromantic lawyers and witness the legal and practical repercussions of a god’s death. In lesser hands, this could easily slump into tedious details, or the intricacies might be forgotten in an attempt to ramp up the action. But Gladstone finds the perfect balance, keeping abstract concepts engaging while presenting action scenes that carry true consequences. The city of Alt Coulumb is one of my favorite fantasy settings, and the entire Craft Sequence is well-worth reading.

Three Parts Dead

By Max Gladstone,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Three Parts Dead as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.


Who am I?

Full disclosure: I am a fantasy world nerd! I treasure my visits to these imaginary places, and I love imagining how the world goes on after the last page. I’ve spent hours pondering what would happen in Narnia after the invention of the internal combustion engine, or in Middle Earth when populations reach levels requiring building codes and infrastructure planning. (I told you I was a nerd!) Advancing fantasy technologies creates new problems, new solutions, and new parallels to our own time. The books on this list redefine our assumptions of what a fantasy world is, and what stories they have to share.


I wrote...

Titanshade

By Dan Stout,

Book cover of Titanshade

What is my book about?

Carter's a homicide cop in Titanshade, an oil boomtown where 8-tracks are state of the art, disco rules the radio, and all the best sorcerers wear designer labels. It's also a metropolis teetering on the edge of disaster. As its oil reserves run dry, the city's future hangs on a possible investment from the reclusive amphibians known as Squibs.

But now negotiations have been derailed by the horrific murder of a Squib diplomat. The pressure's never been higher to make a quick arrest, even as Carter's investigation leads him into conflict with the city's elite. Undermined by corrupt coworkers and falsified evidence, and with a suspect list that includes power-hungry politicians, oil magnates, and mad scientists, Carter must find the killer before the investigation turns into a witch-hunt and those closest to him pay the ultimate price on the filthy streets of Titanshade.

Book cover of The Girl Who Fell Beneath the Sea

The Girl Who Fell Beneath the Sea is a lyrical, whimsical retelling of Korean folklore that is all about fate and family. Mina, the protagonist, kickstarts the story to protect her brother from the wrath of the seas and gets whisked into the Spirit Realm by an underwater dragon(!). Everything that follows comes from Mina’s love and duty, and at its core, this book is about the many types of relationships one can have. The world of The Girl Who Fell Beneath the Sea is visually rich and vibrant as a Ghibli tale, the aesthetics of which are also one of the inspirations for this book.

The Girl Who Fell Beneath the Sea

By Axie Oh,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Girl Who Fell Beneath the Sea as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Deadly storms. An ancient curse. Will her sacrifice save them all?

For generations, deadly storms have ravaged Mina's homeland. Her people believe the Sea God, once their protector, now curse them with death and despair. To appease him, each year a maiden is thrown into the sea, in the hopes that one day the 'true bride' will be chosen and end the suffering.

Many believe Shim Cheong - Mina's brother's beloved - to be the legendary true bride. But on the night Cheong is sacrificed, Mina's brother follows her, even knowing that to interfere is a death sentence. To save…


Who am I?

I’m a South Asian writer who grew up in dry plains and the desert, so when I saw the ocean for the first time—it was an absolute shock to my senses. I was drawn to its vastness, its strangeness. Everything about our seas is fascinating, from the way they sustain life on the planet to the alien creatures that inhabit them. Since I’m a reader, I began to look for books featuring seas, and after nonfic ones, found fantasy books that were set in imaginative water-based worlds. This lifelong love has now led to my own debut being an oceanic fantasy. So I hope you enjoy this list. :)


I wrote...

Monsters Born and Made

By Tanvi Berwah,

Book cover of Monsters Born and Made

What is my book about?

In an oceanic world swarming with vicious beasts, 16-year-old Koral is forced to capture maristags for the Glory Race, a deadly chariot tournament reserved for the upper class. The winning contender receives gold and glory. The others―if they're lucky―survive. When the last maristag of the year escapes and Koral has no new maristag to sell, her family's financial situation takes a turn for the worse and they can't afford medicine for her chronically ill little sister. Koral's only choice is to do what no one in the world has ever dared: cheat her way into the Glory Race.

Perfect for fans of The Hunger Games, this South Asian-inspired fantasy is a gripping debut about the power of the elite, the price of glory, and one girl’s chance to change it all.

The Inheritance Trilogy

By N.K. Jemisin,

Book cover of The Inheritance Trilogy

Not only is Essun a woman, which, unfortunately, is not common when it comes to the history of badass sci-fi protagonists (thankfully this is becoming less true because of writers like N.K. Jemisin), but she’s a middle-aged mother of two living, or I should say, hiding, out in the cut. When her daughter goes missing, Essun hits the road to find her and reveals her, literally, Earth-shaking abilities. If we threw the badasses on this list into a single universe and had them duel, ten-ringer Essun would clean the clocks of every other protagonist. Or more accurately, turn them to ice. I absolutely loved this series, and Essun is the main reason why. 

The Inheritance Trilogy

By N.K. Jemisin,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Inheritance Trilogy as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.


Who am I?

I’m a Korean, Japanese, Scottish American writer born and raised in Hawaii who likes to create badass sci-fi characters of mixed backgrounds while blending cultures and genres as well. I also lean on tropes like sniper, detective, scientist, and genetically modified or cybernetically enhanced individuals, but I try to build symbolism or meaning into each archetype—for example, a sniper who is myopic in general, or a scientist whose life work is creating a new religion. I suppose I enjoy characters full of contradictions. When it comes to the badasses I like, it’s practically a requirement. 


I wrote...

Midnight, Water City

By Chris Mckinney,

Book cover of Midnight, Water City

What is my book about?

Year 2142: Earth is forty years past a near-collision with the asteroid Sessho-seki. Akira Kimura, the scientist responsible for eliminating the threat, has reached heights of celebrity approaching deification. But now, Akira feels her safety is under threat, so she reaches out to her former head of security, now a police detective.

When he arrives at her deep-sea home and finds Akira methodically dismembered, this detective will risk everything and delve back into his shared past with Akira to find her killer. With a rich, cinematic voice and burning cynicism, Midnight, Water City is both a thrilling neo-noir procedural and a stunning exploration of research, class, climate change, the cult of personality, and the dark sacrifices we are willing to make in the name of progress.

The Stormcaller

By Tom Lloyd,

Book cover of The Stormcaller: Book One of the Twilight Reign

The first book in The Twilight Reign starts off an epic fantasy series of war, loyalty, sacrifice, prophecy, and Gods with their own agendas, to whom their chosen champions are game-pieces to be used in a conflict in which mortals have only a partial understanding. The hero, Isak, is a young man born to be a violent warrior, a tool of prophesy and the Gods, but he never stops struggling to be more than what he was made, and to make himself master of his own fate. This is a satisfyingly rich fantasy world to plunge yourself into.

The Stormcaller

By Tom Lloyd,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Stormcaller as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In a land ruled by prophecy and the whims of gods, a young man finds himself at the heart of a war he barely understands, wielding powers he may never be able to control. Isak is a white-eye, born bigger, more charismatic, and more powerful than normal men. But with that power comes an unpredictable temper and an inner rage he cannot always hide. Brought up as a wagon-brat, feared and despised by those around him, he dreams of a place in the army and a chance to live his own life. But when the call comes, it isn't to…

Who am I?

I’m a Canadian writer with a degree in Mediaeval Studies. Even as a child, I wrote stories about characters who weren’t entirely human; they were also always people lurking on the edges of things—families, cultures, places, ways of being, even people existing only on the edges of becoming themselves. Those have always been where I found my stories and as an adult I haven’t lost this fascination and the need to tell such tales. Gods, assassins, devils, demons, shapeshifters, immortal wanderers, and ordinary people caught up in their history, vast, deep worlds, and complex charactersthat’s what I do. 


I wrote...

Blackdog

By K.V. Johansen,

Book cover of Blackdog

What is my book about?

In a land where gods walk on the hills and goddesses rise from river, lake, and spring, the caravan-guard Holla-Sayan, escaping the bloody conquest of a lakeside town, stops to help an abandoned child and a dying dog. The girl, though, is the incarnation of Attalissa, goddess of Lissavakail, and the dog a shape-changing guardian spirit whose origins have been forgotten. Possessed and nearly driven mad by the Blackdog, Holla-Sayan flees to the desert road, taking the powerless avatar with him.

Necromancy, treachery, massacres, rebellions, and gods dead, lost, or mad follow hard on their heels. But it is Attalissa herself who may be the Blackdog's—and Holla-Sayan's—doom. Blackdog begins the epic five-book silk road fantasy series Gods of the Caravan Road.

The Darkest Kiss

By Gena Showalter,

Book cover of The Darkest Kiss

This entire series has my heart and soul. Paranormal world fused with Greek mythology? Hell, yes! I’d read this any day and every day. My top pick in this series is The Darkest Kiss because I love the female lead Anya. She’s just amazing. Anya is introduced as a fun loving, trouble maker but as the novel evolves we learn Anya has more layers to her character and with each layer coming off, you can’t help but fall deeply in love with her just like Death. I mean, I totally understand him. This book is such an entertaining read.

The Darkest Kiss

By Gena Showalter,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Darkest Kiss as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.


Who am I?

I’m a paranormal romance and fantasy author who fell in love with fantasy as a young girl. My journey as a reader started when I was four, but what changed me entirely was Russian Tales woven with magic. I’m passionate about Lycans, Werewolves, Witches, Vampires, and everything that’s magical. I like to write sizzling tales of love and betrayal.


I wrote...

Lycan's Blood Queen

By Catherine Edward,

Book cover of Lycan's Blood Queen

What is my book about?

Aaron George Randolph, ruling King of the Lycans, is hell-bent on revenge for his mother’s brutal death at the hands of Vampires. But when a suspicious student takes up residence on his turf, he can’t help but be drawn to her despite knowing what she is.

Taken into custody by the ruling family of Brookedge, Mia’s life is complicated by the whole different world of mythical creatures living among humans. Now, she must survive the impending civil war between old rivals, all the while learning about her true self and the power she holds. What begins as vicious hostility changes into defying desire as Aaron and Mia are brought together by an unforgiving grudge that miraculously blooms into something unexpected that neither knew they needed.

Circe

By Madeline Miller,

Book cover of Circe

Set in the ancient realm of Greek mythology, Madeline Miller gives her novel a surprisingly contemporary feeling. By recounting the tales of the witch Circe, daughter of the titan Helios, this book celebrates the strength of a woman who stands against the anger and vengefulness of mortals and Olympian gods, drawing strength from the nature of the island of Aiaia where she has been banished. While becoming skilled in Pharmaka, the art of doing witchcraft with herbs grown where gods have died, Circe meets legendary figures like Daedalus, Odysseus, Jason, and famed gods like Apollo and Athena. Circe is an ode to ancient myths and teaches us to break free from conformity, fight for what we love, and use nature to heal ourselves and the rest of the world. 

Circe

By Madeline Miller,

Why should I read it?

21 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…

Who am I?

I've always been fascinated by stories of fantastical lands where people have powers and meet a variety of otherworldly obstacles that they have to surmount. During my travels as an environmental researcher, I found myself in the depths of the Amazon rainforest and the frozen terrains of Iceland and have become inspired by the nature that surrounded me, as well as the myths and legends of other cultures. Through my words, I try and evoke a sense of enchantment and escapism, in the attempt to invite the reader to travel with me to mysterious lands full of unexpected challenges, inhabited by eccentric people and the persistent threat of powerful enemies.


I wrote...

The Lightbringer: Through the Elder Stone

By Dael Sassoon,

Book cover of The Lightbringer: Through the Elder Stone

What is my book about?

All that Jason wanted was to be a travel photographer. When his ship sinks on the coast of Greenland and he crosses through a magical portal, his life takes an unexpected turn. Waking up in a fantastical world, the legendary Flare now rushes through Jason’s veins. He is given the chance to save an enchanted world from the ominous grasp of the tyrant Emperor Darkstrom, who spreads death across the land. Before he can go back home, Jason must embrace his new identity as a Lightbringer and learn how to control his newfound powers. The people and nature of Valkadia depend on it. Will he be able to come to terms with his new identity, or will the journey get the better of him?

Age of Myth

By Michael J. Sullivan,

Book cover of Age of Myth: Book One of the Legends of the First Empire

Melatonin alert! If you start reading this book, you’re going to require a sleep aid to get some shuteye. Sullivan has a way of constructing characters and plotlines that, on their surface, are simple. And yet the more you read, the more complex and three-dimensional they become, until you realize that the characters and their motivations are never what they seem to be until the moment they are revealed, leaving you breathless and satisfied. Losing a little (or a lot) of sleep to read Age of Myth is well worth it!

Age of Myth

By Michael J. Sullivan,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Age of Myth as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.


Who am I?

Growing up and still today, I read a lot of fantasy, including reading the covers right off my copy of The Lord of the Rings boxed set. I’ve also written two major epic fantasy series each more than a million words in length. So I know a thing or two about what makes compelling epic fantasy stories. And these five books (and the series that follow) go above and beyond any measure. Trust me, you won’t be disappointed, but your REM cycle might suffer!


I wrote...

Kingfall

By David Estes,

Book cover of Kingfall

What is my book about?

Be bright but do not burn. Embrace the darkness but do not live in the shadows. 

The powerful godblades were believed to be lost nearly half a millennia ago, when the Godswar ended. Now, however, one has been found by the unlikeliest of wielders: Sampson Gaard, a sheltered prince who's been told he'll never rule Teravainen. As his power grows, the only question is whether he controls the blade or the blade him. With an insidious evil lurking in the shadows, the answer may very well determine the fate of all Kingfall.

Gods and Heroes

By Korwin Briggs,

Book cover of Gods and Heroes: Mythology Around the World

Sometimes the best book for readers who love mythology-inspired stories is a book of mythology! There are lots of these compendiums out there, but it can be hard to find collections that don’t feel distant or dull. This one is recent (if not “new”), and is really well done. Illustrated like a graphic novel, Gods and Heroes highlights funny and quirky aspects of engaging characters, while also sharing in-depth stories that will entrance middle grade readers.

I loved the humor and connection Briggs brought to characters from twenty-three different cultures. These are personalities that are entertaining and powerful enough to have their stories handed down through thousands of years of human history, and who will continue to inspire stories in the years to come.

Gods and Heroes

By Korwin Briggs,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Gods and Heroes as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

It's the perfect way to introduce kids to legendary lands, powerful gods, brave heroes, wild creatures, and more! Skillfully told and illustrated by Korwin Briggs, it's the who's who and what's what of ancient culture, organised alphabetically.

Who am I?

I had a lot of troubles as a kid, and my favorite escape was getting lost in fairy tales and mythology. For me, those stories were a window into ancient worlds full of strange rules and powers, where magic was real and nothing was outside the bounds of possibility. As an author, I get to build my own stories and worlds inspired by the tales I loved so much as a kid, and I’ve loved reading about new heroes and heroines whose tales are rooted in the powerful traditions of peoples from all over the globe. I’m happy to be sharing some of my recent favorite mythology-inspired books!


I wrote...

The Edge of Strange Hollow

By Gabrielle K. Byrne,

Book cover of The Edge of Strange Hollow

What is my book about?

Called “spookily thrilling with superlative worldbuilding,” The Edge of Strange Hollow is a mythology-inspired coming-of-age adventure about friendship, found family, and perseverance. 

Poppy Sunshine isn’t like everyone else in Strange Hollow. She’s not afraid of the Grimwood, home to magical creatures like: shape-shifters, hobs, witches, Valkyrie battle maidens, and even a three-headed dog. Banned from the wood, Poppy longs to hunt the forest’s cursed magical objects with her parents, but when they disappear on a routine expedition, Poppy and her friends must break every rule to save them. She soon discovers that things in the Grimwood are rarely what they seem...and the monsters who took her parents may not be monsters at all.

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