Edmonds Booktalk: Reimagined myths and fairy tales celebrating strong women

Happy May! Spring has arrived. We know because the rain and hail are a bit warmer. Yikes!

We are finishing the so-very-fun Independent Bookstore Passport Challenge – we had 10 days this year – clear until May 9. We loved seeing all of the people finding all of the bookstores. And truly – we loved LOVED seeing the book-related apparel! T-shirts, hats and tote bags. Proudly sharing the book love! More information about the goings on that went on this year is here. Much fun was had.

This month, in honor of Mother’s Day, I have gathered a list [with much help! Thank you Michelle!] of books that are reimagined and/or retold myths and fables and fairy tales and legends. Why for Mother’s Day you ask…? Well, because most of the original stories have men as the heroes. When we all know it’s the women who are the heroes! My introduction to a retold myth was “The Mists of Avalon,” (way too many years ago to admit…) the Arthurian legend retold from the perspective of the women. Amazing. Morgaine had her reasons! Just sayin’. [Still on my top five books of all time!]

Without further ado, a partial list to get you started [starting with “Mists,” then, alphabetical by author]:

“The Mists of Avalon” by Marion Zimmer Bradley. Original pub date 1987. Still in print. Which says a lot these days! The epic story of the women behind the rise and fall of King Arthur. Staff recommended. Highly.

  • “The Bear and the Nightingale” by Katherine Arden. “An extraordinary retelling of a very old tale . . . a wonderfully layered novel of family and the harsh wonders of deep winter magic.”—Robin Hobb
    “A beautiful deep-winter story, full of magic and monsters and the sharp edges of growing up.”—Naomi Novik, bestselling author of “Uprooted.” Book 1 of a trilogy. Staff recommended.
  • “The Silence of the Girls” by Pat Barker. Here is the story of the Iliad as we’ve never heard it before: in the words of Briseis, Trojan queen and captive of Achilles. Brilliantly written, filled with moments of terror and beauty, it gives voice to an extraordinary woman–and makes an ancient story new again. Staff recommended.
  • “The Women of Troy” by Pat Barker. An extraordinary follow up to “The Silence of the Girls” from the Booker Prize-winning author.
  • For ages 13-plus. “Skin of the Sea” by Natasha Bowen. “An inspired take on Hans Christian Andersen’s ‘The Little Mermaid’ that blends West African religion and history in an immersive adventure . . . ‘Skin of the Sea’ painfully entwines love and sacrifice to create a story as powerful and majestic as the sea itself.” —BookPage
  • “Love in Color: Mythical Tales from Around the World, Retold” by Bolu Babalola. A vibrant collection of love stories from a debut author, retelling the most beautiful love stories from history, folktales and mythology around the world, with incredible new detail and vivacity. In paperback. April 26, 2022. Staff recommended.
  • “The Witch’s Heart” by Genevieve Gornichec. When a banished witch falls in love with the legendary trickster Loki, she risks the wrath of the gods in this moving, subversive bestselling debut novel that reimagines Norse mythology.
  • “Spear: A Novel” by Nicola Griffith. The Nebula and Lambda Award-winning author returns with a glorious queer retelling of Arthurian legend, full of dazzling magic and intoxicating adventure. “Griffith does it again! I could read 200 more pages of this gorgeous, moody reimagining of one of the many tales surrounding King Arthur.” —Elayna Trucker, Napa Bookmine, Napa, CA. Chosen for IndieNext. April 19, 2022.
  • “A Spindle Splintered: Fractured Fables #1” and “A Mirror Mended: Fractured Fables #2” by Alix E. Harrow.It’s Zinnia Gray’s twenty-first birthday, which is extra-special because it’s the last birthday she’ll ever have. When she pricks her finger, something strange and unexpected happens, and she finds herself falling through worlds, with another sleeping beauty, just as desperate to escape her fate… And in book #2 another twist, Snow White’s Evil Queen has found out how her story ends and she’s desperate for a better ending. She wants Zinnia to help her before it’s too late for everyone….
  • “Pandora’s Jar: Women in the Greek Myths” by Natalie Haynes. “Pandora’s Jar” brings nuance and care to the millennia-old myths and legends and asks the question: Why are we so quick to villainize these women in the first place—and so eager to accept the stories we’ve been told?
  • “A Thousand Ships” by Natalie Haynes. Shortlisted for the Women’s Prize for Fiction, a gorgeous retelling of the Trojan War from the perspectives of the many women involved in its causes and consequences.
  • For ages 13+ “Daughters of Sparta” by Claire Heywood. For millennia, men have told the legend of the woman whose face launched a thousand ships—but now it’s time to hear her side of the story. This is a tale of secrets, love, and tragedy from the women behind mythology’s most devastating war, the infamous Helen and her sister Klytemnestra. First in a new series. Paperback coming May 31, 2022.
  • “Greek Myths” by Charlotte Higgins. For thousands of years the lasting power of Greek mythology endures because it perfectly illuminates the very extremes of the human experience. Here is a collection of original retellings told through the eyes of the women who feature prominently, including Athena, Helen, Circe, and Penelope.
  • “Folklorn” by Angela Mi Young Hur. A Korean-American scientist who has always been haunted by a ghostly imaginary friend, and whose mother warned that the women of their family were subject to a cyclical intergenerational curse, seeks answers in her mother’s folk tales and a family history riddled with war and loss, as the fate of her ancestors closes in on her. May 10, 2022.
  • “Sword Stone Table” by Swapna Krishna and Jenn Northington. From the vast lore surrounding King Arthur, Camelot, and the Knights of the Round Table, comes an anthology of gender-bent, race-bent, LGBTQIA+ inclusive retellings.
  • “Circe” by Madeline Miller. The banished witch daughter of Helios hones her powers and interacts with famous mythological beings before a conflict with one of the most vengeful Olympians forces her to choose between the worlds of the gods and mortals. April 14, 2020. Staff recommended.
  • “Gods of Jade and Shadow” by Silvia Moreno-Garcia. The Mayan god of death sends a young woman on a harrowing, life-changing journey in this dark, one-of-a-kind fairy tale inspired by Mexican folklore.
  • “Spinning Silver” by Naomi Novik. “A brilliant reclamation of ‘Rumpelstiltskin,’ digging deep into that story’s anti-Semitism and pulling up something nourishing from the roots . . . One of the year’s strongest fantasy novels . . . I’m in awe of how Novik spins moldy, hateful straw into warm and glimmering gold.”—Amal El-Mohtar, NPR. Staff recommended.
  • “Neon Gods : Dark Olympus #1”; “Electric Idol: Dark Olympus #2”; “Wicked Beauty : Dark Olympus #3” [coming June 7, 2022] by Katee Robert. *These books are spicy/sexy. Enjoy!*
    #1: “A modern retelling of Hades and Persephone that’s as sinful as it is sweet”
    #2: “When her family executed a coup that dethroned Zeus himself, Psyche knew she was in trouble, but she wasn’t prepared for Aphrodite to demand her literal heart as payment. Or for Aphrodite’s gorgeous son to be the one determined to strike the blow.”
    #3. A sinfully sweet modern retelling of Achilles, Patroclus, and Helen of Troy.
  • “Ariadne” by Jennifer Saint. Defying the gods, betraying her family and country, and risking everything for love, Ariadne helps Theseus kill the Minotaur. Hypnotic, propulsive, and utterly transporting, it forges a new epic, outside the traditional narratives of heroism and glory that leave no room for women. New in paperback April 5, 2022. Staff recommended.
  • “Elektra” by Jennifer Saint. A spellbinding reimagining of the story of one of Greek mythology’s most infamous heroines. When Clytemnestra marries Agamemnon, she ignores the insidious whispers about his family line, the House of Atreus. But when, on the eve of the Trojan War, Agamemnon betrays Clytemnestra in the most unimaginable way, she must confront the curse that has long ravaged their family. May 3, 2022.
  • “Half Sick of Shadows” by Laura Sebastian. The Lady of Shalott reclaims her story in this bold feminist reimagining of the Arthurian myth.
    “Laura Sebastian is the next Madeline Miller. . . . a fierce, fresh, lyrical tale that will enthrall until the last page.”–Kate Quinn, New York Times bestselling author of “The Huntress.” Coming in paper June 21, 2022.
  • “Lore Olympus: Volume One” by Rachel Smythe. This edition of Smythe’s original Eisner-nominated webcomic brings Greek mythology into the modern age in a sharply perceptive and romantic graphic novel.
    “This is a refreshingly modern and surprisingly poignant take on the Hades and Persephone myth. Not only does Rachel Smythe’s talent as an illustrator shine in Lore Olympus but also her skill with weaving a steamy, often laugh-out-loud funny, and emotional retelling.”—Jennifer L. Armentrout, #1 New York Times bestselling author of “From Blood and Ash.”
  • “Olympus, Texas” by Stacey Swann. The Briscoe family is once again the talk of their small town when March returns to East Texas two years after he was caught having an affair with his brother’s wife. Within days of March’s arrival, someone is dead, marriages are upended, and even the strongest of allies are divided. An expansive tour de force, Olympus, TX combines the archetypes of Greek and Roman mythology with the psychological complexity of a messy family. In paperback. May 17, 2022. Staff recommended.

Order any them here!

Edmonds Bookshop Events.

An Evening with Jess Walter: A Benefit for Edmonds Center for the Arts

Tuesday, May 17, 2022 – 6:30 to 9 p.m.

Enjoy an entertaining evening with Jess Walter, one of the Pacific Northwest’s premier writers. He is the author of 10 books, most recently the bestseller “The Cold Millions,” and #1 New York Times bestseller, “Beautiful Ruins.” His books include the national bestseller “The Financial Lives of the Poets,” National Book Award Finalist “The Zero,” Edgar Award-winning “Citizen Vince,” “Land of the Blind,” and the New York Times Notable Book “Over Tumbled Graves.”
His new book, “Angel of Rome,” a wonderful collection of stories, will be published in June. Pre-order here! Many of his titles will be available for purchase at the event.

6:30 p.m.: Refreshments and book signing.

7 p.m.: Program begins: Enjoy refreshments and camaraderie with fellow readers at this author salon, a Benefit for Edmonds Center for the Arts.

All the information you need is on the ECA website, here.
Edmonds Bookshop is co-hosting and we will be there selling books! Do join us!

Edmonds Bookshop Book Club.

Easing into the new “normal”: We are going hybrid in May! We will still be doing Zoom meetings, but also – welcoming back anyone who wants to join us in person.
Wednesday morning May 18, 2022: 9 – 10 a.m. At the bookshop or online…

“The Night Watchman: A Novel” by Louise Erdrich

Winner of the 2021 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction

Based on the extraordinary life of National Book Award-winning author Louise Erdrich’s grandfather who worked as a night watchman and carried the fight against Native dispossession from rural North Dakota all the way to Washington, D.C., this powerful novel explores themes of love and death with lightness and gravity and unfolds with the elegant prose, sly humor, and depth of feeling of a master craftsman.
Staff recommended!
More information about the book and our book club is here.

Send us an email here to register your email for book club membership. We will send you an invitation with a Zoom Meeting link as each book club meeting is scheduled. Once you accept the invitation it will show up in your calendar.

Thursday, May 19 – 5-8 p.m. Third Thursday Art Walk! Hybrid event: Edmonds authors Paddy Eger and Laura Moe in conversation.

We are thrilled to welcome Edmonds author [and Bookshop favorite] Paddy Eger!
Eger will be in conversation with fellow author and EPIC Board President Laura Moe.

This will be a hybrid event: The authors will be in the shop to chat and sign books beginning at 5 p.m. We will be broadcasting the conversation Live on our Facebook page from 6 – 7 p.m.! [you are welcome to stick around and be part of a small audience…]. They will again be available to chat and sign books from 7 – 8 p.m. This will be all kinds of fun!

All the information on our website here.

Thursday, May 26 – 6-7 p.m. Join us to welcome Janet Yoder in conversation with Carolyn Michael!

“Where the Language Lives: VI Hilbert and the Gift of Lushootseed” will be published May 24, 2022. We are thrilled to welcome the author, Janet Yoder just two days later!

This event will be live-in-person in the shop and streamed on Facebook Live, and recorded and available to watch later on demand.
Join us in person if you are available! There will also be time to chat with the authors…

“This book arrives like a comet, bright and beautiful, illuminating a world of wonders in the life and work of Upper Skagit elder Vi Hilbert. It should be required reading for every resident of Puget Sound Country. It is a delightful and intimate look into the life and culture of one of the most respected elders of Coast Salish territory.” –Lynda Mapes, author of “Breaking Ground: The Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe and the Unearthing of Tse-whit-zen Village”

Ms. Yoder will be in conversation with Carolyn Michael.

Carolyn Michael is a writer, doll artist, and lifelong educator. She founded Storyweaver, a publishing company dedicated to deepening our understanding of and connection to one another through stories. She lives in Olympia, Washington.

*disclaimer* the above schedules are subject to change due to any number of reasons… you know how life is going these days! Double check our facebook and website for updated information. And always feel free to give us a call at The Bookshop.

Recent book releases of note:

“Sea of Tranquility” by Emily St. John Mandel. A novel that sends the reader across both space and time, from the deepest part of the Canadian wilderness to the dark side of the moon.

“The Candy House” by Jennifer Egan. Even in an era of boundless hype, this has a legitimate claim on the title of Most Anticipated Book of the Year. Great review in The Washington Post, here.

“Bittersweet” by Susan Cain. The author of “Quiet” helps us all realize that experiencing feelings of sorrow and longing can have a surprising impact on our creativity, compassion, and leadership.

“Lessons in Chemistry” by Bonnie Garmus.  As a chemist in 1960s California, Elizabeth is trying to find her place not only in the laboratory but also in the world. Original, funny, and observant, this book is a pure delight!

“Four Treasures of the Sky” by Jenny Tinghui Zhang. A dazzling debut novel set against the backdrop of the Chinese Exclusion Act, about a Chinese girl fighting to claim her place in the 1880s American West. Staff recommended.

“When the Stars Go Dark” by Paula McLain. In paperback.

“Great Circle” by Maggie Shipstead. Just announced: on the 2022 Women’s Prize for Fiction shortlist! Now in paperback.

For young readers of fantasy! “The Flames of Hope: Wings of Fire #15” by Tui T. Sutherland. The thrilling conclusion to the Lost Continent Prophecy arc.

“Left on Tenth: A Second Chance at Life: A Memoir” by Delia Ephron.

“True: The Four Seasons of Jackie Robinson” by Kostya Kennedy. Jackie Robinson’s huge talent and fierce dedication to civil rights. Review in The Washington Post here.

“Fabulous Modern Cookies: Lessons in Better Baking for Next-Generation Treats” by Paul Arguin and Chris Taylor. Great column/review in Pacific Northwest Magazine.

“We Begin at the End” by Chris Whitaker. Staff recommended. [Elaine’s favorite novel of 2021!] Now in paperback.

“Finding Me” by Viola Davis. In this candid, challenging, and inspiring memoir, she chronicles her early struggles against poverty, domestic abuse, molestation, and racism.

“City on Fire” by Don Winslow. The first book in a planned new trilogy is a crime saga inspired by Homer’s “The Iliad.” Chosen for IndieBound. Review in The Washington Post here. Staff recommended.

Some books of note being released in May:

“Remarkably Bright Creatures: A Novel” by Shelby Van Pelt. “Meet a hardworking widow, a lost soul, and a giant Pacific octopus (yes, an octopus) in this heartfelt story that reveals there’s still plenty of living to do for those with their eyes — and hearts — open to the unexpected. A bright debut!” —Annie Romano, An Unlikely Story, Plainville, MA. Staff recommended. Lovely review in the Washington Post here. We are hosting a unique author event! We will be wandering about Edmonds Beach at low tide with the author and a former Beach Ranger! Who knows what we may find! [probably not a giant octopus named Marcellus, but…] The event details are here. May 3, 2022.

“Book Lovers” by Emily Henry. One summer. Two rivals. A plot twist they didn’t see coming… In paperback. Chosen for IndieNext. May 3, 2022.

“Damnation Spring” by Ash Davidson. Debut novel with rave reviews. Now in paper. Staff recommended. Chosen for IndieNext. May 3, 2022.

“Trust” by Hernan Diaz. How did one devious Wall Street financier survive the crash of 1929 and make his fortune? Four books within a book compete for the truth in “Trust.” IndieNext May Choice. May 3, 2022.

“Book of Night” by Holly Black. Charlie Hall has never found a lock she couldn’t pick, a book she couldn’t steal, or a bad decision she wouldn’t make. The bestselling author makes her stunning adult debut, a modern dark fantasy of shadowy thieves and secret societies. IndieNext May Choice.  May 3, 2022.

“When Women Were Dragons: A Novel” by Kelly Barnhill. “This story of an alternate 1950s America, in which rebellious women turn into dragons, is thrilling, subversive, and original.—Gwen Papp, Literati Bookstore, Ann Arbor, MI. Chosen for IndieNext. May 3, 2022.

“The Book Woman’s Daughter” by Kim Michele Richardson. The bestselling historical fiction author is back with the perfect book club read following Honey Lovett, the daughter of the beloved Troublesome book woman, who must fight for her own independence with the help of the women who guide her and the books that set her free. In paperback. Chosen for IndieNext. May 3, 2022.

“Fly Girl: A Memoir” by Ann Hood. The author beautifully captures the nostalgia of the golden age of air travel in her memoir of her adventurous years as a TWA flight attendant. May 3, 2022.

“By the Book: Meant to Be #2” by Jasmine Guillory. A tale as old as time—for a new generation… May 3, 2022.

“Broken (in the Best Possible Way)” by Jenny Lawson.  “As Jenny Lawson’s hundreds of thousands of fans know, she suffers from depression. In ‘Broken,’ Jenny brings readers along on her mental and physical health journey, offering heartbreaking and hilarious anecdotes along the way.”  In paperback. May 3, 2022.

“Mi Cocina: Recipes and Rapture from My Kitchen in Mexico: A Cookbook” by Rick Martínez. The columnist, and food editor introduces home cooks to the diverse culinary treasures of Mexico. [He] travels to each of the seven regions in Mexico to explore 100 unique dishes. May 3, 2022.

“Out of the Corner: A Memoir” by Jennifer Grey. The actress delivers a “searing and heartfelt” account of her up-and-down career in this debut memoir.  “A deeply candid and refreshingly spirited memoir of identity lost and found-from the star of the iconic film Dirty Dancing.” May 3, 2022.

“The Hacienda” by Isabel Cañas. “Gothic terror at its best, layered with tension: class, religious, and sexual.” —Simone St. James, author of “The Book of Cold Cases.” May 3, 2022

“How to Prevent the Next Pandemic” by Bill Gates. “Passionate but never preachy, […] an expert, well-reasoned, and robust appeal for the world to unite in averting upcoming pandemics.” —Booklist.  May 3, 2022.

“The Summer Place: A Novel” by Jennifer Weiner. Enthralling, witty, big-hearted, and sharply observed, this is a love letter to the Outer Cape and the power of home, the way our lives are enriched by the people we call family, and the endless ways love can surprise us. Chosen for IndieNext. May 10, 2022.

“The Lioness” by Chris Bohjalian. Hollywood starlet Katie Barstow has just flown out all her high-power friends to the Serengeti. Instead of a vacation they find themselves in the middle of a kidnapping gone wrong. Another surprising adventure with twists and turns that sneak up on you like a lioness in the long grass. May 10, 2022.

“Bad Actors : A Slough House Novel #8” by Mick Herron. In London’s MI5 headquarters a scandal is brewing that could disgrace the entire intelligence community. Over at Slough House, where Jackson Lamb presides over some of MI5’s most embittered demoted agents, the slow horses are doing what they do best, and adding a little bit of chaos to an already unstable situation. Now streaming – first book in the series is “Slow Horses.” May 10, 2022.

“Child Zero” by Chris Holm. In this eerie thriller, a global rise in antibiotic-resistant bacterial infections turns out to be a result of global warming. (An ancient virus is released from permafrost.) A series of crises ensue–the virus spreads across the globe quickly and, with antibiotics weakened, old diseases begin reemerging–leading to the creation of a new government agency called the Department of Biological Security. Soon the potentially infected are being targeted and violence erupts. For fans of Michael Crichton.  May 10, 2022.

“The Love Songs of W.E.B. Du Bois: A Novel” by Honorée Fanonne Jeffers. Now in paper. May 10, 2022.

“Facing the Mountain: An Inspiring Story of Japanese American Patriots in World War II” by Daniel James Brown. Now in paper. Staff recommended. May 10, 2022.

“This Time Tomorrow” by Emma Straub. With her celebrated humor, insight, and heart, Straub offers her own twist on traditional time travel tropes, and a different kind of love story. What if you could take a vacation to your past? May 17, 2022.

“The Island” by Adrian McKinty. It was just supposed to be a family vacation. A terrible accident changed everything. You don’t know what you’re capable of until they come for your family. Chosen for May IndieBound.  May 17, 2022.

“You Made a Fool of Death with Your Beauty” by Akwaeke Emezi. In Emezi’s seductive and powerful tale, a dazzling celebration of life’s complexity, artist Feyi Adekola finally feels ready to date again five years after losing the love of her life in a car accident. She intends to keep things simple, but instead she ends up on a tropical island and entangled in forbidden desire. May 24, 2022.

“Happy-Go-Lucky” by David Sedaris. His first new collection of personal essays since the bestselling “Calypso.” May 31, 2022.

“Sparring Partners : Jake Brigance Stories” by John Grisham. By turns suspenseful, hilarious, powerful, and moving, these are three of the greatest stories John Grisham has ever told. May 31, 2022.

“Meant to Be” by Emily Giffin. Joseph Kingsley is American royalty, but his recklessness doesn’t fit the role he’s supposed to play. Enter Cate Cooper, a highly sought-after model who never feels like she belongs. The attraction is immediate and intense. But with both of their lives (rumored to be based on JFK Jr. and Carolyne Bassette) in the spotlight and a rumored curse surrounding the Kinglsey family, is it possible for their relationship to survive? May 31, 2022.

And even more great lists: May recommended reads from The New York Times and The Washington Post on our blog posts.

We will keep posting our favorite reads, along with links to all kinds of book-related interesting things! In all the places: on our website, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

You may pre-order any forthcoming title by visiting our website.

Stay safe. Enjoy the little things. And as always: Happy reading!

— By Elaine Mattson

Edmonds native Elaine Mattson has worked at The Edmonds Bookshop off and on since she was 12 years old, and has also worked at a book wholesaler, a book publisher, and for the book publishing division of a large local software company (yes, that one). “I was raised a book lover [thanks, Mom!],” Mattson says. “We got book lights by our beds as soon as we were old enough to read. And then I probably got in trouble for reading too late the very next night. And I still read too late!



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Real first and last names — as well as city of residence — are required for all commenters.
This is so we can verify your identity before approving your comment.

By commenting here you agree to abide by our Code of Conduct. Please read our code at the bottom of this page before commenting.