Hello and Happy Friday Readers! Today we are doing some globe trotting with one of my favorite subjects: World Mythology. I love myths and folklore and how they interconnect and intersect cultures. Mythology and folklore tell a history of mixing and melding, the path of conquerors and explorers, the path of trade and how stories traveled around the world. Myths are malleable, and while you find similar themes and elements repeated in far corners of the globe, each culture brings their own flavor. In past years, there has been a resurgence in western mythology, particularly Greek, Norse, and Britannica thanks to influx of pop culture. But here are a few stories that incorporate myths you might not have heard before.
Book & Mythology from Around the World
Black Water Sister by Zen Cho
Featuring Malaysian Folklore
A reluctant medium discovers the ties that bind can unleash a dangerous power in this compelling Malaysian-set contemporary fantasy.
Jessamyn Teoh is closeted, broke and moving back to Malaysia, a country she left when she was a toddler. So when Jess starts hearing voices, she chalks it up to stress. But there's only one voice in her head, and it claims to be the ghost of her estranged grandmother, Ah Ma. In life Ah Ma was a spirit medium, the avatar of a mysterious deity called the Black Water Sister. Now she's determined to settle a score against a gang boss who has offended the god--and she's decided Jess is going to help her do it.
Drawn into a world of gods, ghosts, and family secrets, Jess finds that making deals with capricious spirits is a dangerous business. As Jess fights for retribution for Ah Ma, she'll also need to regain control of her body and destiny. If she fails, the Black Water Sister may finish her off for good.
A Curse of Roses by Diana Pinguicha
Featuring Portuguese Mythology/ Folklore
With just one touch, bread turns into roses. With just one bite, cheese turns into lilies.
There’s a famine plaguing the land, and Princess Yzabel is wasting food simply by trying to eat. Before she can even swallow, her magic—her curse—has turned her meal into a bouquet. She’s on the verge of starving, which only reminds her that the people of Portugal have been enduring the same pain.
If only it were possible to reverse her magic. Then she could turn flowers…into food.
Fatyan, a beautiful Enchanted Moura, is the only one who can help. But she is trapped by magical binds. She can teach Yzabel how to control her curse—if Yzabel sets her free with a kiss.
As the King of Portugal’s betrothed, Yzabel would be committing treason, but what good is a king if his country has starved to death?
With just one kiss, Fatyan is set free. And with just one kiss, Yzabel is yearning for more.
She’d sought out Fatyan to help her save the people. Now, loving her could mean Yzabel’s destruction.
Based on Portuguese legend, this #OwnVoices historical fantasy is an epic tale of mystery, magic, and making the impossible choice between love and duty…
Thistlefoot by GennaRose Nethercott
Featuring Eastern European Folklore
The Yaga siblings--Bellatine, a young woodworker, and Isaac, a wayfaring street performer and con artist--have been estranged since childhood, separated both by resentment and by wide miles of American highway. But when they learn that they are to receive a mysterious inheritance, the siblings are reunited--only to discover that their bequest isn't land or money, but something far stranger: a sentient house on chicken legs.
Thistlefoot, as the house is called, has arrived from the Yagas' ancestral home in Russia--but not alone. A sinister figure known only as the Longshadow Man has tracked it to American shores, bearing with him violent secrets from the past: fiery memories that have hidden in Isaac and Bellatine's blood for generations. As the Yaga siblings embark with Thistlefoot on a final cross-country tour of their family's traveling theater show, the Longshadow Man follows in relentless pursuit, seeding destruction in his wake. Ultimately, time, magic, and legacy must collide--erupting in a powerful conflagration to determine who gets to remember the past and craft a new future.
An enchanted adventure illuminated by Jewish myth and adorned with lyrical prose as tantalizing and sweet as briar berries, Thistlefoot is an immersive modern fantasy saga by a bold new talent.
Skin of the Sea by Natasha Bowen
Featuring West African Mythology
A way to survive.
A way to serve.
A way to save.
Simi prayed to the gods, once. Now she serves them as Mami Wata--a mermaid--collecting the souls of those who die at sea and blessing their journeys back home.
But when a living boy is thrown overboard, Simi goes against an ancient decree and does the unthinkable--she saves his life. And punishment awaits those who dare to defy the gods.
To protect the other Mami Wata, Simi must journey to the Supreme Creator to make amends. But all is not as it seems. There's the boy she rescued, who knows more than he should. And something is shadowing Simi, something that would rather see her fail . . .
Danger lurks at every turn, and as Simi draws closer, she must brave vengeful gods, treacherous lands, and legendary creatures. Because if she fails, she risks not only the fate of all Mami Wata, but also the world as she knows it.
Cry of the Firebird by Amy Kuivalainen
Featuring Russian & Finnish Folklore
A firebird is reborn on the borders of Russia, a gate to a world of monsters and magic is breaking, and only a reluctant, untrained shaman stands in the way of a flood of supernatural darkness...
Anya is still reeling from the death of her grandfather when a strange encounter with the Finnish God of the Dead changes her life forever: Her family has been guarding the gates to the Russian otherworld on their farm for centuries, and she’s the new gatekeeper. Worse, if she doesn’t awaken her magical abilities and assume her new role, the gate will break, unleashing a flood of monsters and dark gods into their world.
As Anya struggles to make sense of her changing world, she can’t deny the strange encounters. She’ll need to accept her fate and work with the legendary firebird if she hopes to survive—and protect humanity.
Our Shadows Have Claws by Various Authors, Edited by Yamile Saied Méndez &Amparo Ortiz
Featuring Latine Myths and Folklore
Fifteen original short stories from YA superstars, featuring Latine mythology’s most memorable monsters
From zombies to cannibals to death incarnate, this cross-genre anthology offers something for every monster lover. In Our Shadows Have Claws, bloodthirsty vampires are hunted by a quick-witted slayer; children are stolen from their beds by “el viejo de la bolsa” while a military dictatorship steals their parents; and anyone you love, absolutely anyone, might be a shapeshifter waiting to hunt.
The worlds of these stories are dark but also magical ones, where a ghost-witch can make your cheating boyfriend pay, bullies are brought to their knees by vicious wolf-gods, a jar of fireflies can protect you from the reality-warping magic of a bruja—and maybe you’ll even live long enough to tell the tale. Set across Latin America and its diaspora, this collection offers bold, imaginative stories of oppression, grief, sisterhood, first love, and empowerment.
Full contributor list: Chantel Acevedo, Courtney Alameda, Julia Alvarez, Ann Dávila Cardinal, M. García Peña, Racquel Marie, Gabriela Martins, Yamile Saied Méndez, Maika Moulite and Maritza Moulite, Claribel A. Ortega, Amparo Ortiz, Lilliam Rivera, Jenny Torres Sanchez, Ari Tison, and Alexandra Villasante.
Resources & Further Reading