Not Just Rick Riordan: YA Novels in Mythological Settings

Published Thursday, February 7, 2019

Are you interested in mythology and folklore but looking to read some other authors besides Rick Riordan? Mythology, fantasy, and folklore are some of my favorite books to read and as much as I enjoy "Uncle Rick" and his books, I also think that it’s fun to branch out and explore other authors and discover mythologies from a larger assortment of cultures. Let me save you a step and give some recommendations from my own adventure into the world of mythology and folklore. Each of the books on this list either utilize existing mythology or folklore in the story, create mythologies of their own, or combine the two to get a completely new perspective.

Flame in the Mist
Renée Ahdieh

A sort of Mulan retelling, though set in feudal Japan instead of China. Mariko is on her way to the palace to meet her betrothed when her caravan is attacked by a group of bandits who attempt to kill her. Barely escaping, she disguises herself as a boy to infiltrate the group in order to track down those responsible. This book has shapeshifters, samurai, a strong female main character, and is influenced by Japanese mythology.

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Sea of Shadows
Kelley Armstrong

Twin sisters Moria and Ashyn are responsible for quieting the souls of the damned, which is working out just fine until the evil refuse to be quieted. Unfortunate circumstances separate the sisters and they set off on two separate, though connected, journeys to warn the emperor and find each other again. There are legendary monsters, adventure, and a folklore unique to Moria and Ashyn’s world.

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The Star-Touched Queen
Roshani Chokshi

When Maya was born, her horoscope declared that her marriage would end in death and destruction, causing her to be scorned by nearly everyone around her. When her father, the Raja, arranges for an advantageous marriage in an attempt to quiet outside rebellions, she suddenly finds herself a queen. But her new kingdom is full of secrets and she doesn’t know who she can trust. Building on Indian and East Asian mythology, Maya leads us into the land of the Otherworld as she struggles to navigate her new life.

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The Wrath and the Dawn
Renée Ahdieh

Based around the story of One Hundred and One Nights, Khalid, the young Caliph of Khorasan, takes a new bride every night only to have her killed on the dawn of the next day. Shahrzad volunteers to be the next bride to avenge the death of her best friend and finds that the evil goes much deeper. Set in a fictional Arabic kingdom, this story is full of magic, mystery, and creates a unique mythology based around Persian and Indian folklore.

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An Enchantment of Ravens
Margaret Rogerson

Isobel, a prodigy portrait artist, paints portraits for the fair folk without incident until she receives her first royal patron. A terrible, unintentional mistake causes her to be swept off to the land of faery to stand trial, only to find that something dark and terrible is awakening. Drawing from the darker aspects of faery folklore, this story combines art and love in a most dangerous fashion.

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Labyrinth Lost
Zoraida Cordova

Alex is from a family of powerful brujas and is destined to be the most powerful witch in a generation. Only, she hates magic and at her Deathday celebration, instead of accepting the power, she attempts to get rid of it entirely. This backfires and causes her family to vanish, sending her on a journey to get them back from Los Lagos, a dangerous land between worlds. This story creates a unique mythology, drawing on Latin American cultures and religions, that still manages to feel familiar.

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Rebel of the Sands
Alwyn Hamilton

Desperate to escape Dustwalk and avoid either an unfavorable marriage or being shot, gunslinger Amani finds her way out through Jin, the foreigner she faced in a shooting competition. What she didn’t expect was to encounter a world of mythical beasts and djinn magic as a result. The world and folklore of Miraji are built around Middle Eastern folklore, but with its own unique twist.

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The Scorpio Races
Maggie Stiefvater

Capture and train a deadly, but incredibly fast, water horse and attempt to keep hold of it long enough to make it to the finish line at the end of the beach without being killed by your steed. This is the Scorpio Races. Puck enters in a last ditch hope to win the prize money and save her home, Sean returns in order to save his horse. This book is full of adventure and high stakes, drawing on the Celtic legends of the eich uisce – water horse.

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The Storm Runner
J.C. Cervantes

When Zane discovers that the dormant volcano he enjoys exploring is actually the gateway to another world, he and his new friend Brooks set out to stop an evil god from being released into the world, even though he can’t make it far without a cane. In the same vein as Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson and the Olympians, this book takes ancient Mayan mythology and sets it in a time and world we are all familiar with: our own.

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A Thousand Beginnings and Endings
Ellen Oh (editor)

A collection of fifteen short stories by fifteen different authors, this book is full of tales of star-crossed lovers, meddling immortals, feigned identities, battles of wits, and dire warnings. Each is a reimagining of the folklore and mythology of East and Southeast Asia and are by turns enchanting, heartbreaking, romantic, and passionate.

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If you are interested in finding more “read-alike” book suggestions, there are bookmarks in both the Adult and Youth libraries with suggestions based around specific books, genres, and topics! Check them out next time you visit the library!

About the Author

Kaylee is a Circulation Clerk and has been working at the library since 2018. She loves reading fantasy, has a particular weak spot for reimagined fairytales, and can most often be found in the Youth Library helping reluctant and enthusiastic readers alike find the perfect book.