Meet the Hero: Orion

Meet Orion

Full Name: Orion, Son of Poseidon

Featured in: Secrets of Artemis by C.K. Brooke

From: Ancient Greece

Status: Hunter god

Distinguishing characteristics: Orion, the god, is best described as a gentle giant. He is tall and muscular, has a dog named Scorch, and can walk on water. He’s often rumored to be hunting on the island of Crete with the goddess Artemis.

Motivations: His heart and the truth.

Orion’s Story:
Orion is hunting with his dog, Scorch, one day in the forests of Crete when he comes across an enchanting young woman. He learns Zeus has decreed his huntress daughter off-limits, but Orion cannot deny his own heart—or hers.

Explore Artemis and Orion’s forbidden romance in my award-winning mythical retelling, Secrets of Artemis, available in eBook, Paperback, Hardcover, and Audio!


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Book Review: Radiant Darkness by Emily Whitman

Possessing some Greek heritage, I have long been fascinated by ancient Greek mythology. In particular, Hades’ abduction of Persephone, Demeter’s daughter, has been one of my favorite myths. But the first sentence of this book, Radiant Darkness (2009) by Emily Whitman, which informs the reader that we mortals have had the story wrong for centuries, intrigued me. From there, I couldn’t put the book down.

Told in the first person, present tense in Persephone’s own lovely, gentle voice, I eagerly accompanied her through her eternal life in a verdant but confining vale, being squelched and suffocated by an overprotective mother who refuses to permit her little girl to change or grow up. But when Hades appears – handsome, strong, sensual and tender Hades, Lord of the Dead – Persephone’s heart willingly becomes his captive. And her affections are genuinely reciprocated. Hades wishes for Persephone to rule at his side in the Underworld and become his queen. With her powers of life and vitality, she brings balance to the death and decay he oversees. Deeply in love, Persephone agrees, and chooses to go with him.

Unfolding is a truly touching and heart-tugging (yet, also subtle) love story between Persephone and Hades. I adored Whitman’s depiction of the power-hungry and kingly yet romantic god, and was right beside Persephone, swooning over her husband. But Persephone’s descent into the Underworld begets grief and mourning for her mother, Demeter, above on Earth. And too many mortals are dying and crowding the Underworld as a result of Demeter’s drought, upsetting the balance between mortals and shades, life above and death below. In the end, it’s up to Persephone to speak her mind to her husband and mother, and correct things.

Not only was this story captivating, but the writing is stellar. Whitman is not merely an author – she’s a poet. Her prose is phenomenal. I caught myself highlighting and rereading passages, simply to marvel at her command of language and storytelling. I couldn’t be more impressed with this book and everything about it. If you like novels about young women in Greek mythology, like Goddess of Yesterday by Caroline B. Cooney or Nobody’s Princess by Esther Friesner, beautiful love stories set in ancient Greece with a fantasy/mythological twist, such as Sirena by Donna Jo Napoli, or myths retold from a fresh new perspective, like Marion Zimmer Bradley’s The Mists of Avalon, I enthusiastically recommend this wonderful, romantic story.

Book Review: Sirena by Donna Jo Napoli

Sirena (1998) is a YA novel by Donna Jo Napoli about a mermaid from Ancient Greece. Well-researched and keeping tightly in line with ancient mythology, this haunting, heartbreaking romance is perfect for lovers of Greek myths. Told in the first person, present tense, Napoli writes in beautiful, concise prose to describe the tragic life of Sirena, a mermaid.

Contrary to what the Greeks believed, in Sirena’s tale, mermaids were simply desperate and eager for the company of human men – their coupling with whom would grant the mermaids immortality. The sirens never intended to bring the men to shipwreck, destruction and death. But due to a deadly misunderstanding with the sailors Sirena and her sisters encounter, Sirena retreats to the lonely, abandoned island of Lemnos for a life of solitude. She fears men and their attitudes toward her kind, and never wishes to seduce one.

But when a Greek prince, Philoctetes, is deserted on the shore of Lemnos with a severe injury, Sirena takes to caring for him. Philoctetes is masculine and charming – I instantly fell in love with him, as does Sirena. But is their love doomed? Can a human, who loves human possessions and longs to play a part in a life of valor and honor, remain instead on a desert isle, even with the love of a beautiful mermaid? And can Sirena, when she gains immortality through their coupling, bear losing him as he ages and shall inevitably die?

This is one of the most beautiful love stories I’ve read in a long time. Sirena and Philoctetes’ love is so strong and sad at the same time. I really felt for what Sirena was going through, and I loved the Greek myth & magic interwoven into their worlds. I admired that, while there was some gorgeously-written sexual tension, Napoli made a pointed effort to convey that the value of the man and mermaid’s relationship wasn’t only lust and seduction, but true, pure love. The book ended on a cliffhanger which positively TANTALIZED me…! But I love it and its simple yet haunting prose. I couldn’t put it down, and read it all in a day.

Book Review: So Shines the Night by Tracy L. Higley

From Chapter 1, I couldn’t put down this Christian fiction novel, So Shines the Night (March 2013) by Tracy L. Higley. Daria is a young, beautiful scholar in first century Greece. She’s also a widow, harboring secrets about her late husband. Lucas is a charming merchant with a gregarious personality, who convinces Daria to flee to his home in Ephesus, and be employed as his tutor. But Lucas holds dark and painful secrets too, with regards to his own late wife. And upon returning to his dank and gloomy estate, which has been left in a state of disrepair since his wife’s death, he abruptly transforms into a brooding and temperamental rogue.

The couple slowly falls in love, but amidst much turmoil and uncertainty. Between the mainstream Ephesian worshipers of Artemis, a snidely group of occultist sorcerers, and a small faction of Jews (featuring the Apostle Paul) who call themselves “the Way”, Daria and Lucas become entangled in confusion, deceit and conspiracy as they seek the truth. Meanwhile, Daria tries to save Lucas from his self-destructive and guilt-ridden quest for vengeance against his wife’s murderers.

Lucas and Daria were strong characters. Higley weaves a hauntingly dark, gripping, gothic mystery/romance, and her descriptors of first century Greece, its culture and customs, are vivid. Her dialogue is also quite good. But mostly, I would call this novel an ancient Greek, Christianity-infused rendition of Jane Eyre. I will say, the twists at the end truly shocked me, but I got the love story I was hoping for.

Book Review: Nobody’s Princess by Esther Friesner

In Nobody’s Princess, we meet the young Helen of Sparta, as author Esther Friesner imagines her to have been, before she became the Iliad’s Helen of Troy. Inspired by Sparta’s later practices to train girls in athletics and warfare, Friesner paints Helen as a feisty and fearless would-be warrior maiden, as well as possessing her legendary physical beauty.

Young Helen’s adamant determination to be free of a woman’s domesticated fate sends her on numerous adventures: disguising herself as a boy, learning swordplay, hunting, helping slay a wild boar, and voyaging to new cities. This YA novel is a quick and easy read, and the enchanting setting of Bronze Age Greece was well-described and captured my imagination. I enjoyed the numerous mythological references and the way in which Friesner wove the Greek gods and goddesses, heroes, and their stories into Helen’s daily world and stream of consciousness. Nearly all of the supporting characters had color and charm in their own ways. I would’ve enjoyed reading even more of their stories and interactions. I especially admired Atalanta, the friendly girl-warrior who teaches Helen how to ride horseback.

The last several chapters of the book set up Helen’s next adventure, so the reader must find the sequel to resolve the story. This is a fun mythological novel for girls aged 11-14.

Book Review: Goddess of Yesterday by Caroline B. Cooney

I love, love, LOVE this book, Goddess of Yesterday by Caroline B. Cooney. We meet young Anaxandra of a nameless Greek isle, daughter of a pirate, when she’s taken by the King of Siphnos. In Siphnos, Anaxandra is treated well, and given as a companion to the sweet but sickly princess, Callisto. But one fateful day, Siphnos is attacked, leaving Anaxandra its sole survivor. Found by King Menelaus of Sparta, Anaxandra is mistaken for Princess Callisto, and is taken to Sparta to live in the court of Menelaus and his formidable wife, Helen.

Throughout the novel, Anaxandra’s character is so real and vulnerable, as she struggles with the guilt of stealing a deceased princess’s identity, and deceiving the good people of Sparta. As a reader, you really empathize with her and feel her guilt! She also wrestles with the fear of due punishment such deception might invoke from the gods – all the while, praying loyally to her unknown, unnamed patron goddess: the “goddess of yesterday.” Meanwhile, the vain and selfish Queen Helen reigns a quiet terror over Anaxandra, as Helen suspects Anaxandra’s fraud. But when Helen undertakes an adulterous love affair with a Trojan Prince, stealing away to Troy and starting a war, Anaxandra follows suit to protect Helen’s baby, Pleisthenes.

Anaxandra, or Callisto as she’s also called, is a character of humility, courage, selflessness, and loyalty. She is flawed, but carries these weaknesses in an honest and natural way. The pages of Goddess of Yesterday are thronged with enchanting mythology, dynamic characters, the thrills and horrors of war, the woes of love, and captivating geographical exploits. This is a great read, no matter how old you are!