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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Meet the Heroine: Artemis

Meet Artemis

Photo by RMD Laurens. Courtesy of Unsplash.

Full Name: Artemis

From: Mt. Olympus and the island of Crete, Ancient Greece

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

Status: Olympian Goddess, Daughter of Zeus

Distinguishing characteristics: Always carries a bow and arrow; expert hunter. Short dark hair; eternally youthful.

Motivations: Discovering her own sense of identity and purpose as a goddess, not just having it assigned to her.

Artemis’s Story
Artemis is the Ancient Greek goddess of the hunt, the moon, and of childbirth, believed to be eternally chaste. But the divine maiden had one secret: her forbidden love for the huntsman god, Orion.

Will her twin brother, Apollo, and her father, Zeus, ever permit them to be together? Or will Artemis and Orion’s love go the way of a Greek tragedy?

Discover more 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: The Goddess Test by Aimee Carter

The Goddess Test (2011) by Aimee Carter has an attractive cover, an intriguing prologue, and a neat set-up: girl moves to small American town, gets caught up in a hidden paranormal world, and embarks upon a whirlwind romance. Life-threatening suspense ensues.

Kate Winters is an ordinary teenage girl, but her mother is terminally ill with cancer. Her mother’s dying wish is to return to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, where she was born, to die there in peace. After moving to Eden with her mother, Kate enrolls in the local high school and meets several new friends… and enemies. Through a creepy turn of events, Kate must make a deal with the devil– well, with Hades, ruler of the Underworld: spend six months in his otherworldly Eden Manor, and take a series of seven tests, to determine if she will become the new Queen of the Underworld. If Kate fails, Hades dies. If she passes, she becomes immortal, and must spend half of every year with Hades as his bride and co-ruler of the Underworld, for eternity. Kate agrees, only because by doing so, she’s allowed more time with her dying mother, just for trying. How can she refuse?

Though containing some discrepancies (i.e. immortal gods can die; ancient pre-Christian gods celebrate Christmas and base their goddess tests off of the Christian 7 Deadly Sins, etc.) and I wasn’t completely sold on the romance, there are some exciting action sequences, and a few of the end’s twists caught me off-guard. Readers of teen paranormal romance, and fans of books like Twilight and Beautiful Creatures, are Carter’s target audience, and will appreciate this novel.

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!