If reading or seeing The Lightening Thief has sparked your imagination, you can grab a grown-up version of the Percy Jackson series. The Greco-Roman gods will have to share the literary spotlight with the rest of Europe. In fact, Gods of all nations have been haunting the back alleys of cities and the in between places of the modern world since 2001 when author Neil Gaiman published American Gods. In this dark tale, gods of the old world were brought to America in the hearts of the immigrants who believed in them. They survived through the years, feeding on the belief of those who carried them to the new world. But as the accents and traditions of the old world start to slip away one generation after the next, the old gods are beginning to fade and newer ones have risen to take their place. In the middle of a building conflict between the gods of old and the new gods of television, electricity, computers and phones Shadow Moon, a man recently released from prison just in time to attend his wife's funeral, is offered a job by a strange character who calls himself Wednesday. Soon Shadow is set to the task of recruiting the reclusive old deities into a fighting force. Shadow is no sword wielding teenager, he is a thoroughly lost thirty-year-old with only his character to guide him and the between places he travels with Wednesday, and the old gods that inhabit them can be dark, and dangerous for any mortal. American Gods combines a spooky atmosphere with an intriguing mythology. But a book that could easily turn into a sword wielding adventure story is something else entirely where coin tricks, careful words, and sincerity have greater strength than arms. Gaiman also offers adult readers Anasi Boys, the story of the sons of the African trickster god Anasi which has a similar premise to American Gods, but with a lighter tone. While Neil Gaiman has other titles for younger readers, this novel was written for an adult audience and it has some content that may not be appropriate for the age group Percy plays to. Younger readers should try Gaiman's book Odd and the Frost Giants which also features Norse gods and stars a twelve-year old-protagonist. If you enjoy American Gods, try War for the Oaks by Emma Bull, where a supernatural rumble is brewing in the modern city streets between two courts of the fairy world. Don't be fooled, these fairies aren't the sort to tote glittery wings and twinkling wands. Sharp Teeth by Toby Barlow offers another supernatural group entangled in a dark, twisted, Machiavellian struggle. Read along in free verse as factions of lycanthropes, men who turn into wolves, battle for control of Los Angeles. Those looking for a lighter take on modern gods can check out a British take on the subject in Gods Behaving Badly by Marie Phillips. This novel features Apollo working as a TV Psychic, Aphrodite manning a phone-sex line and Artemis walking dogs for a living.
Recommended by Megan Willan