Do you know Demeter from Dionysus? Arachne from Ariadne? This snappy little handbook flies through all the major players in Greek mythology and delivers a working knowledge for casual readers. Basically, this is a fun reference book. Never thought I could write that sentence, but here we are.
Greek Mythology: The Gods, Goddesses, and Heroes Handbook is full of amusing short stories and character summaries that get straight to the point. Somehow, this reference book is an addictive read! The stories are short with lots of asides and teasers for other character histories. It can be read through or used as an encyclopedia — a very funny encyclopedia.
By their very nature, these stories are COMPLICATED. Thankfully, this handbook clears a lot of things up and explores tons of characters and their histories. It discusses major gods that everyone knows (Zeus, Poseidon, Athena, etc) but doesn’t cut corners with the lesser-known characters (Phaethon, Io, Tantalus, and more). Some popular stories didn’t make it into the book, but there’s enough insight into the gods/goddeses/heroes to inspire further research. There’s a great section at the end with titles that go deeper in depth.
Albert writes with a modern voice and a sense of humor while recognizing just how rotten the gods could be. This book is very well balanced and doesn’t harp on the negative or soften the stories for modern sensitivities. The cards are on the table, so to speak.
There are a lot of references to representations of Greek mythology in pop culture, like Disney’s Hercules, Percy Jackson and the Olympians, Circe, and more. The author does a fine job of identifying the gods/heroes recognized in pop culture and explaining what’s the same and what’s different. The author makes no presumptions of the reader’s knowledge of Ancient Greek mythology.
If you’re a fan of Overly Sarcastic Productions on Youtube, you’ll feel right at home. I actually had to check to make sure this wasn’t the same writer (it’s not). You won’t be able to get a full profile of each deity, but you’ll have enough knowledge to follow along with other books and media that reference Greek myths.
This digestible little handbook probably won’t offer any new insights for scholars, but for the general public who wants to understand a pop culture reference, glean insight into the linguistic origins of modern vocabulary, or get the real story about Pandora, this is a must-have.
Greek Mythology: The Gods, Goddesses, and Heroes Handbook by Liv Albert is expected to be published May 5th, 2021.
Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.