26th August 2019
Book Club Picks: Diverse Stories in Fantasy & Mythology
MSA Book Club recently hosted a Mythology ‘book chat’, discussing fiction & fantasy books which use stories, characters, or themes from mythological traditions. Based on that discussion, our Book Club leaders have compiled a list of five awesome fantasy/mythology books based on cultures & perspectives other than the ones we see usually see in the mainstream (no shade to Percy Jackson – just looking to expand your bookshelves!)
We hope you like these books, but if you’d like to suggest some other fantasy/mythology works that feature diverse viewpoints (there are so so so many), feel free to email firstname.lastname@example.org or reach out to the Book Club on Facebook!
Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi
They killed my mother.
They took our magic.
They tried to bury us.
Now we rise.
Zélie Adebola remembers when the soil of Orïsha hummed with magic. Burners ignited flames, Tiders beckoned waves, and Zélie’s Reaper mother summoned forth souls. But everything changed the night magic disappeared. Under the orders of a ruthless king, maji were killed, leaving Zélie without a mother and her people without hope.
Now Zélie has one chance to bring back magic and strike against the monarchy. With the help of a rogue princess, Zélie must outwit and outrun the crown prince, who is hell-bent on eradicating magic for good. Danger lurks in Orïsha, where snow leoponaires prowl and vengeful spirits wait in the waters. Yet the greatest danger may be Zélie herself as she struggles to control her powers and her growing feelings for an enemy….
The ‘Legacy of Orïsha’ series is written by Tomi Adeyemi, a Nigerian-American author based in California.
Gods of Jade and Shadow by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
Words are seeds, Casiopea. With words you embroider narratives, and the narratives breed myths, and there’s power in the myth. Yes, the things you name have power.
The Jazz Age is in full swing, but Casiopea Tun is too busy cleaning the floors of her wealthy grandfather’s house to listen to any fast tunes. Nevertheless, she dreams of a life far from her dusty small town in southern Mexico. A life she can call her own.
Yet this new life seems as distant as the stars, until the day she finds a curious wooden box in her grandfather’s room. She opens it—and accidentally frees the spirit of the Mayan god of death, who requests her help in recovering his throne from his treacherous brother. Failure will mean Casiopea’s demise, but success could make her dreams come true. In the company of the strangely alluring god and armed with her wits, Casiopea begins an adventure that will take her on a cross-country odyssey from the jungles of Yucatán to the bright lights of Mexico City—and deep into the darkness of the Mayan underworld.
This is a stand-alone novel by Silvia Moreno-Garcia, a Mexican author based in Canada.
The Rise of Kyoshi by F.C. Yee
“What you do when no one is guiding you determines who you are.”
The Rise of Kyoshi delves into the story of Kyoshi, the Earth Kingdom–born Avatar. The longest-living Avatar in this beloved world’s history, Kyoshi established the brave and respected Kyoshi Warriors, but also founded the secretive Dai Li, which led to the corruption, decline, and fall of her own nation. The first of two novels based on Kyoshi, The Rise of Kyoshi maps her journey from a girl of humble origins to the merciless pursuer of justice who is still feared and admired centuries after she became the Avatar
F.C. Yee is currently working on a sequel called ‘The Shadow of Kyoshi’.
Shatter the Sky by Rebecca Kim Wells
“The emperor had been right to fear us. If stories were to be believed, our ancestors flew on the backs of dragons and breathed fire themselves. How they would scorn me now. I was just a girl with a broken heart, and no hope for a future.”
Raised among the ruins of a conquered mountain nation, Maren dreams only of sharing a quiet life with her girlfriend Kaia—until the day Kaia is abducted by the Aurati, prophetic agents of the emperor, and forced to join their ranks. Desperate to save her, Maren hatches a plan to steal one of the emperor’s coveted dragons and storm the Aurati stronghold.
If Maren is to have any hope of succeeding, she must become an apprentice to the Aromatory—the emperor’s mysterious dragon trainer. But Maren is unprepared for the dangerous secrets she uncovers: rumors of a lost prince, a brewing rebellion, and a prophecy that threatens to shatter the empire itself. Not to mention the strange dreams she’s been having about a beast deep underground…With time running out, can Maren survive long enough to rescue Kaia from impending death? Or could it be that Maren is destined for something greater than she could have ever imagined?
This is the first book in a planned series by Rebecca Kim Wells, who holds a BA in Political Science from UC Berkeley and an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Simmons College.
For a Muse of Fire by Heidi Heilig
“Who would look at me and guess what I could do? I am no tattooed monk, no nécromancien, no power-hungry monster who thinks herself a god. I am just a shadow player.”
A young woman with a dangerous power she barely understands. A smuggler with secrets of his own. A country torn between a merciless colonial army, a terrifying tyrant, and a feared rebel leader. The first book in a new trilogy from Heidi Heilig.
Jetta’s family is famed as the most talented troupe of shadow players in the land. With Jetta behind the scrim, their puppets seem to move without string or stick a trade secret, they say. In truth, Jetta can see the souls of the recently departed and bind them to the puppets with her blood. But the old ways are forbidden ever since the colonial army conquered their country, so Jetta must never show never tell. Her skill and fame are her family’s way to earn a spot aboard the royal ship to Aquitan, where shadow plays are the latest rage, and where rumor has it the Mad King has a spring that cures his ills. Because seeing spirits is not the only thing that plagues Jetta. But as rebellion seethes and as Jetta meets a young smuggler, she will face truths and decisions that she never imagined—and safety will never seem so far away.”
Heidi Heilig grew up in Hawaii and is based in Brooklyn, where she lives with a pet snake! She has also written a sequel, ‘A Kingdom for a Stage’.