Eleven Books to Read For the Same Magic as the Percy Jackson Saga
Mythology and folklore lovers assemble!
When the first book of the Percy Jackson saga, The Lightning Thief, first came out, I was right in the middle of its desired target audience because A) I was in middle school and B) I was and had always been (and to be honest continue to be) a Greek and Roman mythology girl. Maybe it’s because I was born and raised and live in Italy, so I’m surrounded by it pretty much wherever I turn, but you best believe I devoured that first book as soon as I got my hands on it and proceeded to do the same thing with the rest of the series.
And now that we’re all waiting for the release of Disney Plus’s new series to return to Camp Half-Blood, what better time to put together a list of books that have that same Percy Jackson vibe? Be they about young kids embarking on incredible adventures or exploring mythologies from all corners of the world, here are eleven of the best stories to read once you put down the final book in the Heroes of Olympus saga.
A quick note for clarity before we begin— it would have been too easy to say “well if you liked Percy Jackson go read another work by Rick Riordan!”. This means that you won’t find any of the other titles of the Camp Half-Blood Chronicles universe on this list, but you should definitely keep in mind that they’re there! If you want to stay in the Percy Jackson world a bit longer, then check out the Trials of Apollo series, about the misadventures of the god Apollo once he’s confined to Earth, as well as the various short stories and standalone novels that have been or will be published.
If you’d like to branch out into other mythologies, then Riordan has also written The Kane Chronicles around Egyptian mythology and the Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard series about — you guessed it — Norse mythology. They’re all part of the same narrative universe, and there are a number of short stories that join the main characters of each saga.
However, now let’s dig into some books from other authors that offer the same magic.
‘Gods of Manhattan’ (Scott Mebus, 2008)
This children’s novel is also about a version of New York that isn’t exactly what it seems. As you might remember, in Percy Jackson’s world the Greek Gods have relocated and Mount Olympus now hangs above the Empire State Building. In Gods of Manhattan, thirteen-year-old Rory Hennessy discovers a spirit city that exists parallel to Manhattan— filled with people who had become so renewed in life that they ended up being turned into immortal gods, like Babe Ruth and Alexander Hamilton.
‘Akata Witch’ (Nnedi Okorafor, 2011)
The first installment of the Nsibidi Scripts Series — followed by Akata Warrior in 2017 and Akata Woman in 2022 — this fantasy story has its roots in Nigerian culture, folklore, and politics. It follows twelve-year-old Sunny Nwazue, who discovers she has magical powers and becomes entangled with the magical community of West Africa, dubbed the Leopard People.
‘The Serpent’s Secret’ (Sayantani DasGupta, 2018)
The Serpent’s Secret tells the story of Kiranmala, who discovers that her parents have disappeared on the morning of her twelfth birthday and that there’s a terrifying demon wreaking havoc in her kitchen. This leads her to become entangled in a parallel dimension filled with magic, demons, enemies, and allies. The novel is the first installment of the Kiranmala and the Kingdom Beyond series— books two and three, Game of Stars and The Chaos Curse, came out in 2019 and 2020 respectively.
‘Aru Shah at the End of Time’ (Roshani Chokshi, 2018)
Part of the Rick Riordan Presents imprint, this middle-grade novel is also rooted in Hindu mythology and stars a twelve-year-old girl, the titular Aru Shah. In an effort to not be called out in her lies about a rich and privileged life by her friends, she lights a lamp that should have been kept hidden and awakes the Sleeper, an ancient demon who can bring about the end of the world.
Aru Shah has to find a way to stop it by bringing back the reincarnations of the five heroes of the Hindu epic poem Mahabharata. The story is the first installment in the Pandava series, which consists of four other books— Aru Shah and the Song of Death, published in 2019; Aru Shah and the Tree of Wishes, published in 2020; Aru Shah and the City of Gold, published in 2021; and Aru Shah and the Nectar of Immortality, published in 2022.
‘Frostborn’ (Lou Anders, 2014)
Firstborn and the Thrones & Bones series — completed by Nightborn in 2015 and Skyborn in 2016 — bring us back to Norse mythology. The main characters, Karn and Thianna are a boy disinterested in his family inheritance and a half-human-half-frost-giantess on the run— trying to survive as they’re being chased by a grand assortment of monsters that include trolls and wyverns.
‘The Troubled Girls of Dragomir Academy’ (Anne Ursu, 2021)
This standalone novel follows young Marya Lupu, living in the fantasy world of Illyria where men have the chance to wield incredible powers to help save their country from the menace known as the Dread. Always ignored in favor of her potentially magical brother, Marya finds herself invited to the mysterious Dragomir Academy— where she’s about to make some world-changing revelations about Illyria, magic and the Dread itself.
‘Dragon Pearl’ (Yoon Ha Lee, 2019)
Published under the Rick Riordan Presents imprints, Dragon Pearl explores Korean mythology and folklore and blends them in with science fiction, since the story is very much a space opera. Our protagonist is Min, a teenage gumiho who runs away from home to find out what happened to her brother and enters the Space Forces as a cadet to continue her investigation. The sequel to Dragon Pearl, Tiger Honor, was published in 2022.
‘Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky’ (Kwame Mbalia, 2019)
Another Rick Riordan Presents book, the story follows seventh-grader Tristan Strong who is reeling from the death of his best friend. Through a series of cascading events, Tristan finds himself falling into the magical world of Alke, populated by creatures and figures from African American and West African folklore and mythology. The book is the first of a trilogy, which continues with Tristan Strong Destroys the World, published in 2020, and Tristan Strong Keeps Punching, published in 2021.
‘The Storm Runner’ (J.C. Cervantes, 2018)
Yet another one of the Rick Riordan Presents books, The Storm Runner is the first installment of the homonymous trilogy— which continued with The Fire Keeper in 2019 and The Shadow Crosser in 2020. The story dives deep into Mayan mythology and follows Zane Obispo, who discovers that his father is actually the Mayan deity of wind, god, and fire and that his destiny is inevitably linked to that of the god of death, who’s trying to escape his centuries-old prison.
‘The Last Mapmaker’ (Christina Soontornvat, 2022)
Set in a fantasy world inspired by Thailand, this standalone novel follows twelve-year-old Sai, the assistant to her country’s most celebrated mapmaker playing the part of the prim and proper lady. When Sai joins an expedition to chart the southern seas, she has no idea the real destination of the journey might be the fabled Sunderlands, filled with dragons, riches beyond imagining, and some very serious danger.
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