Tuesday, October 6, 2020

Books Set in the Afterlife

Do you know the myth of Persephone? She was living happily on Earth with her mother, Demeter, the goddess of the harvest, when Hades, king of the underworld, kidnapped her and took her to live in his kingdom. Demeter wanted Persephone to return to her, but Hades tricked Persephone by feeding her pomegranate seeds, and the seeds made Persephone long to stay in the Underworld. 

The end result is that Persephone lives half the year on Earth with her mother during spring and summer, and she spends half the year, during fall and winter, with her husband, Hades.

And that is how I took the idea of books with fall vibes and somehow ended up with a list of books set in the underworld.

Here are a few you might like. Not all are set in the underworld, but all have themes of the afterlife and death. I have not yet read those with asterisks.

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders

Gods of Jade and Shadow by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

The Library of the Unwritten by A. J. Hackwith

Elsewhere by Gabrielle Zevin

Mort by Terry Pratchett

White Apples by Jonathan Carroll

No Exit by Jean-Paul Sartre

The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold

Inferno by Dante Alighieri*

What Dreams May Come by Richard Matheson*

Being Dead: A Novel by Jim Crace*

Everlost by Neal Schusterman*

The Years of Rice and Salt by Kim Stanley Robinson*

Passage by Connie Willis*

Life After Life by Kate Atkinson*

Lord of Life by Zelazny*

The Afterlife of Holly Chase by Cynthia Hand*

It's a Wonderful Death* by Sarah J. Schmidt*

Surface Detail by Iain M. Banks*

The Brief History of the Dead by Kevin Brockmeier*

More Than This by Patrick Ness*

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together. Each Tuesday That Artsy Reader Girl assigns a topic and then post her top ten list that fits that topic. You’re more than welcome to join her and create your own top ten (or 2, 5, 20, etc.) list as well. Feel free to put a unique spin on the topic to make it work for you! Please link back to That Artsy Reader Girl in your own post so that others know where to find more information.


  1. The only one I've read is The Lovely Bones but, boy did I like that one.

  2. thanks for introducing me to some new books and i like how you came to create this post. great job
    sherry @ fundinmental

  3. I actually did not know that What Dreams May Come was a book. I remember seeing the movie and now I'm curious about the book.

  4. Great twist on the topic - I used to love the Persephone myth for some reason.

  5. I follow your chain of logic here. Of those you haven't read, I highly recommend Life After Life. I've read a couple of the others you haven't read but that was by far the best. Of those we've both read, The Graveyard Book and The Lovely Bones were my favorites. I can't remember if I've read Mort! I've been very scattershot in my approach to Discworld. Great list/topic!

  6. I really liked The Brief History of the Dead. I've also read The Lovely Bones and The Graveyard Book.

  7. I love this list! It's such a clever twist in the topic and underworld books are so much fun!

  8. The Library of the Unwritten is one of my favorites. I just read the sequel and it was outstanding.

  9. Wow! This was an awesome theme! I read the Graveyard Book and I loved it! Great list!

    Here’s my TTT!

    Ronyell @ Rabbit Ears Book Blog

  10. I love this twist on the theme! How fun is this ... I mean, in a slightly morbid way. So glad seeing more on here—one of my favorite books that matches this theme. Elsewhere and Lincoln in the Bardo are both on my TBR pile. I love George Saunders, so I really need to get around to that one finally.

  11. I loved "Lovely Bones" and hated "Life After Life," which was sad because usually I love Atkinson's work.

  12. Great theme/reading list! Am not thrilled with the Gulf Coast read!

    1. Interesting. I enjoyed it very much. It will be fun to discuss it with such differing thoughts about it.


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