Mythology Monday: Iris

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Iris was a virgin goddess of the sea and sky and the daughter of a marine god named Thaumus and a cloud nymph named Elektra. She was the goddess of the rainbow, a messenger for Olympus (as opposed to her twin sister, Arke who was messenger for the Titans), and a handmaid of Hera. She was believed to replenish the rainclouds with water from the sea. She was beautiful, golden winged, and often indistinguishable from Hebe in artwork. In mythology her role is often taken over by Hermes.

She’s also a minor goddess of justice and makes frequent visits to the Underworld carrying water from the Styx to pour in the eyes of everyone who commits perjury, or collecting items for Hera. She played a role after the events of the Trojan War by disguising herself as a wife of Troy and encouraging the other wives and mothers to set fire to Aeneas’ ships in order to prevent them from leaving Sicily.

According to Ovid, Iris also has the ability to transform mortals into gods with a single touch. She also assisted with Leto’s delivery of Artemis and Apollo by bribing Eiletheyia for her help in giving birth to her children, without allowing Hera to find out. She also helped the Argonauts Zetes and Calais face off against the harpies to protect the prophet Phineus. She convinced the two Argonauts not to kill the harpies in exchange for her promise that the Harpies would not hurt Phineus any longer.

But Iris wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows. She also assisted Hera in cursing Hercules with the madness that caused him to kill his wife and children.

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Mythology Monday: Athena

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“He could know something useful that could save time, possibly even save lives,” Athena argued. “Despite your low opinion of me, I take no joy in my creation’s sufferings. But it must be done. The demigods made their stance clear when they relocated the island. That wasn’t an exchange you witnessed, it was a coup. We have a window of instability when we can strike, but it is rapidly closing. The time for deliberation is at an end.”

Spending this much time with the Pantheon was skewing my perspective. I couldn’t afford to start thinking like them. “Hades would wait. My mother—” my voice caught, but I cleared my throat with a harsh cough and soldiered on “—would have waited.” Not forever. I wasn’t that naïve, but they’d give it some time. Just in case.

“Yes, they would wait.” Athena crossed her legs and plucked an imaginary piece of lint off her tan slacks. “Because they’re cowards. I had better hopes for you, but I see I was mistaken.”

“You want to talk cowardice?” I snorted. “What do you call forcing a teenage girl to fight your battles for you? Sorry, no. You lost the right to complain about me being inexperienced or naïve or whatever the hell else you think you’re insulting me with the second you voted to use me instead of stepping up. You will damn well take me as I am.”

Athena opened her mouth to argue, but I railroaded right over her.

“Oh, and you don’t get to claim sympathy for ‘your creations,’ either.” I put her phrase in air quotes. “Not when you enabled the monster tormenting them for centuries because it benefitted you. That is why we’re in this mess right now. You know that, don’t you? Because you didn’t care about what Zeus was doing until it threatened you. You joined in. I know all the stories, all the facts. The things you did to people just because you could. It is no wonder they want us all dead. My mother wasn’t perfect, but at least she didn’t participate. Hades either.”

“We didn’t all have the luxury of disappearing into our own realms! Some of us had to live with him.” Athena snapped to her feet, almost tripping over the floral rug in front of the couch. Her voice cracked with more emotion than I’d ever heard from her, but no power accompanied the outburst. The air didn’t charge or shift or smell of a stuffy old library or whatever her power signature would taste like.

For a moment, I admired her self-control, then I realized that self-control had nothing to do with it. Athena didn’t have to struggle to hold her powers back, because she barely had enough to get by. I kept letting myself forget how much stronger I was.

“We had to live with him,” Athena continued, her voice thick. “Day in and day out, whispering in our ears, telling us how the world owed us. Telling us how much the humans hated us, despised us, didn’t respect us enough. Driving us to action. People worshipped us, sacrificed to us, prayed to us, deferred to us. And we drank it in like wine. Zeus was a psychopath, but everyone who disagreed with him sat upon their high horses, judging us for living in the only world we’d ever known.

“You think you’d be any different? You think there’s nothing you’d look back upon and regret? Wait a few generations, infant. Wait until time and values have shifted. Wait until some child looks at you with judgment in their eyes and asks how you could have done that, thought that, allowed that.”

I lifted my chin, glaring at her. She knew nothing about me. Nothing about what I regretted. What I would or wouldn’t do.

Athena gave a bitter laugh at my expression. “Time marches on, even for us immortals. The world is ever-changing. One day, you’ll grow old enough to look back and wonder how you could ever have been such a monster for something you wouldn’t think twice about now. And you’ll have two choices. Cling to your outdated beliefs or change. But what you cannot do is go back and reverse the damage you’ve done. No matter how much you wish to.” Her gray eyes met mine. “Move on. I know you hate me and everything I stand for. I don’t blame you. But we are all in this mess together, and we are never going to get out of it unless you listen to someone other than yourself.”

~@~

Athena is possibly the best example in mythology of when religions absorbing each other does not work. She, and her Roman counterpart Minerva, are two entirely different goddesses with different strengths, weaknesses, and personalities.

Athena is best known as The Goddess of Wisdom, but that’s only because as her ancient myths were was absorbed and modernized into more patriarchal societies, they downplayed some of her biggest strengths.

Athena was the Virgin goddess of War. That’s why she carried a shield and spear. She was also the goddess of  defense; heroic endeavors’ protector of agriculture, science, and industry; good council; weaving, pottery, and other crafts; and women’s work. Three guesses why you only hear about the latter half of her equation.

Athena was born fighting. Zeus was terrified to have children after what he did to his parents, so when he learned from Athena’s mother, Metis (her mother is Metis in my mythology as well, but since this was early in Hera and Zeus’s relationship, Hera pretended that she was hers to preserve her reputation as the goddess of marriage. She got over that eventually), that she was on the way, he ate Athena before she could be born. But Athena was too strong willed so she burst out of Zeus’s cranium in the world’s worst migraine, and demanded her place among the Olympians.

An alternate version of the myth makes her the daughter of the Winged Giant Pallas, whom she immediately killed for attempting to rape her. She striped him of his skin and attached his wings to her feet for speed.

Less frequently, she’s a daughter of Poseidon or Triton or Tritonis who got tired of being their daughter and asked to be adopted by Zeus.

She played a pivotal role in the creation of man and in most heroes journeys, including The Odyssey , Jason and The Argonauts, and The Twelve Labors of Hercules, and the creation of Medusa. She and Poseidon fought bitterly over the naming of the city of Athens. She won naming rights by creating an olive tree and a horse. She fought admirably in the war of the giants, and fought off an attempted rape from Hephaestus. She blindest the prophet Teiresias for daring to look upon her while bathing, and she played huge part in The Trojan War by siding with the Greeks in battle, then attacking their ships with a storm when they failed to punish Ajax for violating her Trojan shrine (though in most retellings, her role is reduced to the Divine Beauty Contest).

She did all of that and so much more. She’s a super prominent figure in Greek Mythology, but I bet I can guess which myth you’ve heard her featured in most.

The weaving contest. The story goes that Arachne was a talented young weaver who dared to brag that her skills rivaled even Athena’s. Athena challenged her to a weaving contest, sometimes in disguise (Athena really enjoyed disguises), sometimes not. Depending on the story she won or lost but the outcome is the same. She was so offended at Arachne’s claim, that she cursed her by turning her into a spider so she and her descended could weave their webs for all eternity.

Because of this combination of myths and personalities, Athena comes across as a bit bi-polar. One moment, she’s the goddess of wisdom, perfectly rational and calm. The next she’s flying off the handle, cursing people into God-Killing-Monsters and arranging epic quests to clean up her mess.

Fortunately, this works for my universe where every god is their own foil. Persephone, goddess of spring, fears change. Ares, god of war, is a pacifist, Aphrodite, goddess of love, doesn’t understand relationships, and Athena, goddess of wisdom, is rash and impulsive.

In my universe, Athena is an adult goddess (not a teen like Persephone and Aphrodite), who works at The University of Georgia as a professor in psychology. She’s asexual and Machiavellian to the extreme. She and Persephone got off on the wrong foot and are constantly at odds with one another, but she and Aphrodite understand one another on a very deep level. She’s integral to the Pantheon, and as the series progresses, she and Persephone are forced to work together more and more.

Mythology Monday: Epic Dads

Taking a break from Psyche this week in honor of Father’s Day, I’m doing something a little special this week and making a list of truly epic dads in Greek Mythology. Unlike Epic Moms, Epic Dads were a lot harder to come by on account of most of them kept trying to eat their children or perform some other form of horrific abusive or neglect. But not all of the dads in Greek mythology were like that. Here’s a few who actually could have celebrated Father’s Day unironically.

1) King Polybus. A nice enough man who took pity on the infant, Oedipus, he found on a mountain top and raised him as his own. He was apparently a nice enough that when Oedipus learned he was fated to murder his father and marry his mother he was horrified and ran far and fast to save his dad.

2) Poseidon. Not a great guy, but by all accounts not a horrible father. He was protective of all his children, be they monster, humanoid, or equine. There was also no apparent incest, abuse, or murder of said children. I never said this list had high standards.

3) Helios. By all accounts Helios loved his children and was unflinchingly honest. If he gave his word, he kept it. Unfortunately since gods can’t go back on their promises one of his kids ended up dead. But he seemed sad about it! In Greek mythology that’s a caring parent.

4) Daedalus. He cared enough about his son Icharus to make him wax wings and to caution him not to fly too close to the son. He was devastated when his son didn’t listen.

And…that’s all I could think of. Can you name any decent father figures in Greek Mythology?

P.S Venus Rising is live and Aphrodite is still on sale for .99 cents. That means you can get the whole trilogy for under $10! So if you haven’t caught up on Aphrodite’s trilogy, now is the time to do so.

And it’s the last day to enter to win this awesome tote from my publisher.

To enter, please click this link: http://bit.ly/2rpu0bP and sign up for the Venus Rising Giveaway. The winner will be chosen 6/12/17. After the giveaway, new signups will be added to the official Kaitlin Bevis mailing list. If you have any questions, please email us at nikiflowers@bellebooks.com!
Good luck, and enjoy!

Mythology Monday: Medusa

Medusa, Snakes and Stones Anthology, Kaitlin Bevis, Daughters of Zeus, love is respectIn honor of the release of the Snakes and Stones Anthology, I’m focusing on Medusa for this week’s mythology. Check out an excerpt from my version of Medusa below and an in-depth look at the myth.

Snakes & Stones

A myth that has withstood the sands of time tells of a beautiful woman turned hideous beast.
Some say she was punished because of the lust of a man. Others believe it was her own beauty that brought on the curse.
However, there are some who believe her curse was actually a gift.

Hear the story of Medusa as told by six popular young adult authors: Christina Benjamin, Kaitlin Bevis, Susan Burdorf, Erin Hayes, Suzanna Lynn, and Ali Winters

All proceeds from the sale of this anthology will go to loveisrespect.org

What was once my hair shifted and writhed atop my head. I squeezed my eyes shut and buried my face farther in my arms doing my best to ignore the augmentations my body suffered. The salt of my tears hissed as they touched my flesh.

Gods, was every piece of me poison? I already knew no one could so much as look upon me and survive. Upon hearing my horrified screams as Athena’s curse took root, a villager had rushed to my aid. Poor man. Remembering the look of terror in his eyes as his skin hardened to stone sent a shudder through me.

Athena had rushed me inside and deposited me where I now lay curled against a cold marble wall, tucked in the space between two large columns of lined white stone. Beyond the columns, the room formed a long hall, coming to an end at a vast golden statue created in Athena’s likeness. Tall, hard, and unyielding. Standing beneath her likeness, the Goddess of Wisdom argued with the Lord of the Underworld, a dark-haired deity, in raised tones that bounced off the intricately decorated ceiling tiles to crawl down my spine.

In an attempt to huddle into an ever smaller bundle, I hunched over my knees and did my best to tune out the gods discussing my fate. What did it matter what happened to me now? I was ruined.

“Why did you call me here?” Hades’s voice rang down the long hall, laced with ill-disguised rage. Hours ago, hearing the raised voice of Hades himself would have been the most terrifying thing I had ever experienced. Now my dread at his rage barely registered, I felt so numb. “The girl still lives.”

Everyone was so angry with me for surviving. Part of me wanted to rage at the injustice of it all, the rest of me just wished I had not—not survived Poseidon’s attack; not survived Athena’s curse; not survived my already broken life up to tonight. I was so tired of surviving. How much easier would it be to just crumble to pieces and die? At least then I wouldn’t have to keep living through this nightmare.

“She does still live.” Athena’s voice sounded calm in comparison to the Lord of the Underworld, yet it still echoed off the marble walls. Sound carried in her temple. She never spoke very loud but volume had never much mattered in this temple of cold cut stone. “I would like you to fix that.”

Though I did not look up, I could picture the Goddess of Wisdom studying Hades with her dispassionate gray eyes, dark hair wound back so tight it pulled at her skin. She always wore her robes in an unflattering, shapeless cut. Though long, they made no sound when she walked. The older priestesses had warned me when my sisters and I first arrived at the temple that I would never know which corner she would be behind. Always assume she was watching, listening.

Athena was beautiful, anyone with eyes could see that, but she buried her beauty under a layer of harshness like a weakness that needed to be armored. This room of beautiful yet cold and unyielding stone suited her.

I was beautiful once. The fairest in my village, or so I had often been told. A distinction I gave little thought to since my sisters and I devoted our lives to Athena over a decade ago. We were desperate. Our mother died while birthing my youngest sister, and my father took to the jar and traveled down into the depths of despair where we could not follow. So rather than giving in to my despair, I packed my younger sisters up and took the long, arduous journey to the nearest temple accepting new devotees. Not an easy task for a trio of young girls, one not yet walking, but well worth it. Everyone knew temple girls always had food, shelter, and protection.

And here I had thought gods could tell no lies.

Enjoy what you’ve read? Check out the myth below, then head on over to Amazon to buy Snakes and Stones today and if you haven’t already, pick up a copy of Aphrodite while it’s on sale for .99 cents. That’s two Daughters of Zeus stories for $2.00!

~@~

 

There are few creatures featured in mythology as instantly recognizable, or controversial, as Medusa. She’s the woman with snakes for hair that turns men to stone with a single glance. But how did she get that way?

That’s up for some debate.

Part of the controversy is that there are multiple origin stories for Medusa in mythology. In the earliest versions of the myth she was always a monster, born and raised in a small cave near the Underworld. Medusa and her sisters (Stheno, and Euryale) were known as the Gorgons, and were either the daughters of Phorcys and Ceto, Gorgon and Ceto. Medusa was the only mortal of the sisters, and as such a logical choice for a quest kill.

It wasn’t until Ovid came around that she got a more sympathetic story. In Ovid’s version, she was a beautiful human girl until Poseidon raped her in Athena’s temple. Athena, angry her temple had been defiled, cursed Medusa to life as a monster.

There are variations within this version. She had an affair with Poseidon. She didn’t. She ran to Athena’s temple for help, it was just a convenient empty space. Either way, Ovid’s version of the story was further popularized by Clash of the Titans, and is one of the better known interpretations of the myth.

All sources agree she was beheaded by Perseus in his quest, and her head was used as a weapon thereafter until it was given to Athena to decorate her sheild. Since Medusa was pregnant by Poseidon at the time of death (presumably in horse form), Pegasus and Chrysaor, a giant wielding a golden sword, sprang from her corpse after death. Her head was used to turn Atlas to stone and to create coral in the Red sea. Poisonous snakes were also created from drops of the severed head’s blood.

Obviously I went with Ovid’s interpretation of the myth, Medusa as a victim, when I wrote my own version of Medusa because it’s the one that felt like it fit with my takes on the myth. The gods were vengeful and petty and when they crossed paths with mortals, it never ended well for them. A monster who was born a monster and had no motivations for being a monster in truth, not just appearance, is a lot less understandable than a hurt woman hiding in a cave and turning men to stone.

 

Mythology Monday: Deities Associated with Asclepius

Asclepius, mythology monday, greek mythology retelling, young adult

Short and sweet Mythology Monday today because I had a few too many more notes on Asclepius to include in last week’s post.

Asclepius had a wife and a handful of daughters who were all associated with healing, and there’s a bit of repetition and overlap among them, so bear with me.

Epione was Asclepius’s wife. She was also the goddess of the soothing of pain, and by most accounts, mother to the goddesses listed below.

Hygeia (Salus) was the goddess of good health, the reason why good health is called hygiene, and an all together different goddess than her sister Aegle (Aigle) who was the goddess of the radiant glow of good health and shared her name with a variety of other goddesses.

Akeso was the goddess of curing illness. She’s different from her sister, Panacea (Panakeia) the goddess of universal remedy (or as gamers might know her, the cure-all), because she stands more for the process of getting better rather than the cure itself. Iaso was also a goddess of recovery, but not cure-alls and not the process of getting cured.

Paeon (Paion) The physician of the Olympian gods. He was sometimes considered a unique god, other times he was considered an epitaph of Apollo or Asclepius.

P.S Persephone is on sale from May 20th-May 26th for 99 cents! Please spread the word.

Mythology Monday: Asclepius

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I shook my head. “Put Zachary in charge of Reaping. You can trust him. If we can find two, maybe three other souls we can trust on the surface, I think they can handle it.”

“Zachary?” Hades gave me a quizzical look.

“Asclepius’ new persona,” Cassandra explained.

“What makes you think you can trust him?” Charon gave me a surprised look.

“He helped me when the Reapers were attacking me. And he never had to be charmed. He swore fealty on his own. Who’s Asclepius?”

“He swore fealty? To you?” Hades’ eyebrows shot up. “Well . . . okay then. You’ll still have to try to charm him, but if you say he’s trustworthy . . . ”

“Who is he?” I asked again.

“He’s the first Reaper.” Hades was talking fast, indicating we needed to move on from this conversation. “He was a god of healing, and he tried to stop death. That violated the rules of nature We put into place. Rather than changing the nature of the dead, it changed him.”

The way he said “We” emphasized the capital letter, and I understood he was talking about my mother, Zeus, and the rest of the original six. When they created the world, they’d all agreed on its natural laws. Earth and all its inhabitants formed a complex system involving all their powers. To protect their creation, they’d even given up the ability to lie. Words had power; the wrong words could unintentionally change the nature of something. I’d never considered the ramifications of a god intentionally trying to change the rules.

I felt sick. Poor Zachary. He’d tried to stop death and become its first agent.

~@~

Asclepius (to cut open) was the mortal son of Apollo and a princess named Koronis. Unfortunately, his mother died during childbirth (for was murdered for being unfaithful to Apollo, myths vary), so his father had to cut him from her body (hence the name). His mother was placed among the stars (The Crow constellation).

The demigod was then placed into Chiron’s care and taught medicine. Chiron taught him all he knew, but Asclepius also learned medicine from snakes whispering in his ears. Snakes are sacred to medicine to ancient Greeks, so the demigod grew so skilled that he figured out how to stop death and restore the sick back to life. Unfortunately, Zeus was very against the idea of immortal man, so citing fear of overpopulation, he killed Asclepius’s with a lightning bolt. Other myths claim he was killed for bringing back a specific person (Hippolytus).

The gods honored the fallen demigod with the constellation Ophiochus (the serpent holder), and performed apotheosis to turn him into a god so he could continue to be their doctor.

In most vases and paintings, Asclepius looks like an old, bearded man holding the staff with a snake around it that you’ll see in so many hospitals. (He was kind of a big deal in medical circles).

Asclepius participated in the Calydonian Boar Hunt at some point. He also married  Epione, the goddess of soothing pain, and had five daughters (Hygieia, the goddess of health;  Panacea, the goddess of universal remedy;  Aceso, the goddess of recuperation; Iaso, the goddess of healing, and Aglaea, the goddess of beauty) and three sons (Machaon, Podaleirios and Telesphoros). He may have also had a son named Aratus, with a woman named Aristodama. More on them in a minute

In my universe, he wasn’t turned into a god, because let’s face it, that’s uncharacteristically kind of the gods. He was turned into the first reaper. Now instead of healing people, he releases souls. You’ve met him in the Persephone trilogy as the reaper, Zachary.

 

Mythology Monday: Epic Moms

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In honor of Mother’s day next week, I’m dedicating this week to the amazing mom’s in Greek mythology. Ancient cultures may not have had the most respect for women in general, but they respected the role of motherhood. Here’s the top three mommy myths in Greek mythology. By the way, I’m leaving both Hera and Gaia off this list because in my opinion they sucked as mothers.

Demeter

I’ve already went into Demeter’s myth at length several Mythology Mondays ago, but I can’t leave her out of this list.

She was by all accounts, an awesome mom. She took great care of Persephone, protected her, and kept her out of the drama of Olympus, no small feat.

When her daughter went missing, she scoured the earth to find her and didn’t rest until her daughter was returned to her arms.

It’s a pretty epic myth, all things considered and in my opinion the most powerful myth about motherhood in Greek mythology.

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Rhea

Rhea was married to a kind of awful guy. And yes, it took him eating a couple of her kids to realize the true depths of his depravity, but eventually that mothering instinct took over and rather than allow Cronus to kill Zeus, she, at great risk to herself, snuck him away and tricked her husband. Later, she gives Zeus the tools he needs to save her other children. This decision cost her a kingdom, a husband, every bit of status she had ever gained. She wasn’t killed with the rest of the Titans but she faded into obscurity.

"For two days and two nights the boat was and hither and thither" by Walter Crane - The story of Greece : told to boys and girls (191-?) by Macgregor, Mary. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:For_two_days_and_two_nights_the_boat_was_and_hither_and_thither.jpg#/media/File:For_two_days_and_two_nights_the_boat_was_and_hither_and_thither.jpg

“For two days and two nights the boat was and hither and thither” by Walter Crane – The story of Greece : told to boys and girls (191-?) by Macgregor, Mary. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:For_two_days_and_two_nights_the_boat_was_and_hither_and_thither.jpg#/media/File:For_two_days_and_two_nights_the_boat_was_and_hither_and_thither.jpg

Danae

Danae was a princess whose child was fated to kill her father. Her dad locked her up so no man could reach her, but that didn’t stop Zeus. As punishment for getting knocked up, her father locked her and her baby in a coffin and threw them out to sea so Poseidon would get the blame for killing them, not him. Poseidon didn’t cooperate so mom and son, Perseus, made it to shore, where a king fell in love with her. She wasn’t interested in marriage (no doubt emotionally scarred from her horrible treatment with her father), but the king raised Perseus and agreed not to pursue her for awhile anyway. When Perseus grew up, the king lost patience and tried to marry Danae, but Perseus used Medusa’s head to turn him to stone.

That tells me a few things about Danae. The main one being she’s an awesome mother. Perseus loved her enough to go to great risk and kill a father figure for the love of his mom. That means rather than shutting down or blaming Perseus for all the trouble he brought her, she kept mothering on like a good human being. Given her insane childhood, that’s kind of awesome, so props to Danae.

So there you have it. My top three favorite Mom myths in Greek mythology. What’s your favorite Greek mother?

Mythology Monday: Ascalaphus

Ascalaphus, bad omen, screech owl, mythology, greek mythology, from the young adult greek mythology retelling The Daughters of Zeus series by Kaitlin Bevis. Persephone, a modern day persephone retelling

Time passed in a blur of color and light. People laughed and danced around us, the spinning arcs of the skirts making me dizzy.

“I can’t dance another step.” I giggled, clinging to Hades so I wouldn’t trip and fall.

“Let’s get some air.” Hades led me out of the ballroom. The party was scattered all across the Underworld, but we found privacy in the grove of trees. The trees stretched into the sky, their branches arching and spilling over, sheltering us from view of any of the other souls wandering the Underworld.

“You’re trying to stop me from making a scene.” I stepped away from him into the center of the clearing. I spun around, holding my arms out. “Whoa.” I stopped mid-spin, waiting for the clearing to do the same.

“You should probably eat something.” Hades caught my hand. “Think of something, anything at all.”

I imagined pomegranate seeds and a plastic baggy full of them appeared in my free hand. I put six seeds in my mouth. An owl hooted in the distance.

Hades laughed. “You’re going to need more than that. What’s your favorite type of bread?”

“I’m a goddess. Do I have to worry about hangovers?”

“Your metabolism will change when you come into your powers. As far as alcohol is concerned, right now you’re a human.” He suppressed a grin. “Ambrosia gets even gods drunk, so you’re in trouble.”

~@~

I had a lot of fun peppering my books with Easter eggs for people as obsessed with Greek mythology as I am. The owl hooting in the distance in the scene above was a reference to the god Ascalaphus.

Ascalaphus (not to be confused with the Argonaut by the same name)  was a minor deity/spirit that kept the orchard in the Underworld. He saw Persephone eat the fateful pomegranate seeds and informed Hades and Zeus. Because of those seeds, she was forced to return to the Underworld every year.

Demeter did not take that news well. But she couldn’t lash out at Zeus or Hades to the degree that she’d like to, so she shot the messenger. She buried Ascalaphus under a rock, but that pesky demigod Hercules freed him. Since keeping him trapped didn’t seem to be working, she turned him into a screech owl. Ever since, screech owls have been associated with the Underworld. Spotting one is a bad omen.

There is a version of the myth that credits Persephone with his transformation, which while out of character at the time, wouldn’t be for long as she became known as The Iron Queen.

FAQ Friday: Age Range

Question mark in a blue bubble. Repeating icon for the frequently asked questions in the Daughters of Zeus series a young adult greek mythology retelling by Kaitlin Bevis

Q: What age range is your series intended for?

A: I hate this question because my perspective is so skewed. I have a seven year old. The younger end of YA seems so close that I’m always kind of hedging because I can’t imagine her reading stuff like my books in a few years.

On the other hand, as a teen, I was reading adult novels, so I also don’t want to underestimate YA readers. So I’m going to give you the official answer and the content break down. Be warned, my content break down probably makes my books sound a thousand times worse than they are in terms of content, because I am a prude. But hopefully this is a somewhat helpful guide. Readers please comment your thoughts below.

The Persephone trilogy is young adult, so I’d consider it appropriate from ages fourteen and up, though I personally feel that age should be pushed back a bit with each book. However what content you think is appropriate for what age is going to vary with each person.

The Aphrodite trilogy is considered new adult, so basically the older spectrum of YA (maybe 17 and up?) Again, that’s going to depend on the maturity level of the reader.

It would probably be more helpful to break it down by content.

Content:

Persephone is considered a clean read. There’s no cursing, no sexual situations, rape is alluded to (but considering I’m retelling the myth of Persephone that shouldn’t be a surprise) and there is mild violence.

Daughter of Earth and Sky features light cursing (as in number, not as in words dropped), alcohol use, heavy making out (though the camera fades to black any time a scene is getting too intense), and mild violence. Nonconsensual sexual situations implied.

Iron Queen has moderate cursing, graphic descriptions of violence, sexually questionable situations (though the scenes always fades to black).

Aphrodite features moderate cursing, light violence, sexual situations (not graphic), trigger warnings for rape (not described but heavily implied), and non-consentual situations. It’s a much more mature read.

Love and War Much of the same as Aphrodite with the addition of mature topics, such as abortion.