The 10 Best Fantasy Books Based on Irish and Celtic Mythology

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It’s a question that keeps popping up: Why aren’t there more fantasy novels and short story collections rooted in Celtic mythology?

For the past several decades, Greek and Norse mythology have been hogging the limelight, with your Percy Jacksons and your Thors and Lokis dominating printed and digital pages (not to mention silver screens).

And while fantastical tales rooted in Celtic mythology—and its best-preserved form, Irish mythology—may seem few and far between, the good news is there are plenty of them out there. Provided you know where to look. (Hint: under that big rock in your grandma’s backyard.)

So, I got out my shovel and did some digging. The result is this list of popular fantasy books based on Irish and Celtic fantasy. While not comprehensive by any means, it should hopefully serve to tickle your Celtic fantasy fancy.

(Pssst. Prefer audiobooks to traditional books? You can snag 3 months of Audible Premium Plus for free using this link.)

The Top 10 Irish and Celtic Fantasy Books

1. Emerald Magic: Great Tales of Irish Fantasy

by multiple authors (including Ray Bradbury)

Per the publisher: “Mythology and magic come alive in this collection of Irish fantasy stories by some of today’s finest authors. Ireland is a nation that holds fast to its history and heritage, and nowhere is that more true than in its folktales and legends. From the great Celtic myths featuring the bard Taliesin, the terrible Morrigan, the heroic Cuchulain, or the noble and cunning Sidhe to strange and mysterious tales of today, the stories and traditions of the Emerald Isle hold a strong attraction for many.” Learn more…

2. A Celtic Darkness: Supernatural Tales of Ireland

by Eoghain Hamilton

Per the publisher: “A Celtic Darkness is a collection of short ghost stories based on the supernatural legend and folklore of Ireland. It is a new work that examines the hidden less travelled pathways of the Irish haunted landscape. Using local settings, Hamilton introduces a collection that takes the reader on several nightmarish journeys into an Ireland that is both rarely seen and very very disturbing. Read this collection with the light on for once the reader is immersed in the Celtic Darkness, they may find it difficult to find your way out.” Learn more…

3. Awakening (The Morrigan Chronicles, Book One)

by N. A. Montgomery

Per the publisher: “The Morrigan – Celtic Goddess of War, Fate and Death. I am a warrior of the Tuatha de Danann. History writes us as a supernatural race in Irish mythology that battled demons and the Fomorians – a race similar to ours and our rivals. The last thing I remember, I fought alongside King Arthur and his men against the Fomoire and an evil God. Then… I remember nothing. I am Morrigan, but I am no Goddess and no myth.” Learn more…

4. This Is No Time to Quit Drinking: Teacher Burnout and the Irish Powers

by Stephen O’Connor

Per the publisher: “Ah, the unfortunate Bartley Hannigan. Teacher burnout is just one of his problems. There’s also his disintegrating marriage, the inheritance of a haunted property with its uninvited bibulous guest, a psycho poet with a fatal attraction, the arrival of an Irish banshee hunter with poor personal hygiene, his sudden passion for a stripper, and eventually, the hit man on his trail. But as the gypsy said, this “shit-storm” will lead to either a higher plane of understanding—or sudden death.” Learn more…

5. Hounded (The Iron Druid Chronicles, Book One)

by Kevin Hearne

Per the publisher: “Atticus O’Sullivan, last of the Druids, lives peacefully in Arizona, running an occult bookshop and shape-shifting in his spare time to hunt with his Irish wolfhound. His neighbors and customers think that this handsome, tattooed Irish dude is about twenty-one years old—when in actuality, he’s twenty-one centuries old. Not to mention: He draws his power from the earth, possesses a sharp wit, and wields an even sharper magical sword known as Fragarach, the Answerer.” Learn more…

6. Savage Her Reply

by Deirdre Sullivan

Per the publisher: “A retelling of the favourite Irish fairytale The Children of Lir. Aífe marries Lir, a chieftain with four children by his previous wife. Jealous of his affection for his children, the witch Aífe turns them into swans for 900 years. Retold through the voice of Aífe, Savage Her Reply is unsettling and dark, feminist and fierce, yet nuanced in its exploration of the guilt of a complex character. A dark & witchy feminist retelling from the author of Tangleweed and Brine.” Learn more…

7. Irish Imbas: Celtic Mythology Collection 1 (Celtic Mythology Collection Series)

by multiple authors

Per the publisher: “This collection by a new wave of contemporary authors hauls Celtic stories out of the dusty shadows and places them back into the light where they belong. Love, mystery and drama, these fascinating tales mark a new movement of more authentic and original Celtic-based writing and a better understanding of Celtic cultures. Subjects covered in this collection include the ‘Fairies’, the ‘Salmon of Knowledge’, the ‘Children of Lir’ and the ‘Selkie’.” Learn more…

8. Highland Raven (The Celtic Blood Series, Book One)

by Melanie Karsak

Per the publisher: “Scotland, 1026–Descendant of the line of MacAlpin, Gruoch should have been born into a life of ease. But fate is fickle. Her father’s untimely death, rumored to have been plotted by King Malcolm, leaves her future uncertain and stained by the prophecy that she will avenge her family line. Escaping to one of the last strongholds of the old Celtic gods, Gruoch becomes an adept in arcane craft. Her encounters with the otherworld, however, suggest that magic runs stronger in Scotland than she ever imagined.” Learn more…

9. Fionn: Defence of Ráth Bládhma (The Fionn mac Cumhaill Series, Book One)

by Brian O’Sullivan

Per the publisher: “IRELAND: 192 A.D. A time of strife and treachery. Political ambition and inter-tribal conflict has set the country on edge, testing the strength of long-established alliances. Following the success of their ambush at Cnucha, the Clann Morna tribe are hungry for power. Meanwhile, mysterious war parties roam the forests and a ruthless ‘Tainted One’ is intent on murder. In the secluded valley of Glenn Ceoch, a disgraced druid and a woman warrior have successfully avoided the bloodshed for many years. Now, the arrival of a pregnant refugee threatens the peace they’ve created together.” Learn more…

10. The Drumcliffe Pilots

by Kieran Devaney

Per the publisher: “It’s 1889. In a great cavern, deep below the picturesque, sleepy, west of Ireland seafaring village of Rosses Point, a battle is about to begin which will decide the future of mankind. It will be the Sidhe or the Faerie world, unite with the old enemy, the Bean Sidhe. Spear-heading the battle will be the Drumcliffe pilots, three great white swans, who were gifted immortality by the legendary Queen Maeve. In return they must spend eternity traveling through time looking for the souls of the people of Connaught.” Learn more…

Thanks for reading!

Let me know if there are any other Irish and Celtic fantasy books that you think absolutely, positively should be on this list.

P.S. If you’re feeling so bold, you can also check out an anthology of Celtic myth-inspired short stories I compiled and edited (under my pseudonym I. E. Kneverday).

Neon Druid: An Anthology of Urban Celtic Fantasy

by multiple authors

A collection of 17 short stories, NEON DRUID mixes urban fantasy and Celtic mythology, creating a universe where lecherous leprechauns and debaucherous druids inhabit the local pubs, and where shapeshifting water spirits from Scotland and sword-wielding warriors from Ireland lurk in the alleyways. The stories inside this anthology are independent narratives set within the urban centers and environs of this shared Celtic Otherworld. Learn more…

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