Halloween Mythology Part 2: Hecate


Hecate got really popular in (comparably) recent history. She started as a chthonic deity a generation above the Olympians. She was an only child, which was rare in Greek mythology, and her parents were Perses and Asteria, relatively minor deities in mythology. She was mostly a household goddess of good fortune who for no apparent reason, Zeus was really really in awe of. She was sort of replaced by Artemis, and I say sort of, because Hecate was worshiped in a very small region, and Artemis grew in popularity throughout most of the country. Hecate may predate Artemis, but very few people were aware of her during height of that myth.

Now Artemis and Selene both had dominion over the moon like Hecate, but Hecate had a lot more power. Artemis was sort of a moon goddess, Selene more so, and Hecate had the power OF the moon over the earth, sea, and skies. She influenced the tides, earthquakes, wind storms, you name it.

In the Persephone myth, Hecate helped Demeter find her daughter, and accompanied her to the Underworld every six months as a figure of comfort. She was either a virgin goddess, or the mother to Scylla depending on the myth. She seems fond of dogs (There’s almost always one depicted with her), garlic, and cypress trees.

Hecate was skilled with herb lore, both the healing and the poisoning variety. She taught this lore to Medea, and we all know how that went. At some point Hecate got very popular with pagan cults and her whole persona changed, but that’s going way off the beaten path of Greek mythology. I think it’s fascinating how her role evolved, but there are still people who actively worship this goddess, so I will do them the courtesy of not discussing their goddess beyond the basics.

Halloween Mythology Part 1: Reapers


I caught sight of a man making his way down the long hallway. “Who’s that?”

Cassandra followed my pointed finger and narrowed her dark eyes. “Hey you!” She jogged through the entertainment room to the hall.

I followed closely behind her, studying the man. Something was off about him. He was tall, wearing robes the same disorienting black I’d seen on Hades, but that wasn’t what stood out to me. Light seemed to bend around him, as though he was sucking it out of the room.

“Reapers aren’t allowed down here.” Cassandra frowned. “How did you get clearance?”

“From Thanatos. What about you? Do you have clearance?” he asked in a snide voice.

Cassandra bristled. “I live here.”

“Ah yes, Hades’ pet soul. I almost forgot. What about her?” He motioned to me.

“None of your business. She belongs here, you don’t. So shoo!”

“I’m Persephone.” I was determined to be polite, no matter how snide he sounded.

Cassandra sighed. “You don’t have to talk to him.”

“I’m Zachary.” He gave me an appreciative once-over. “You must be new here.”

“I am.” I made myself meet his eyes. It was hard to look at him directly; my eyes kept getting distracted by the strange bends in light around him. “Nice to meet you.” I extended my hand.

“No, Persephone, don’t!” Cassandra reached out to block the Reaper’s hand. His fingers brushed mine and I fell to my knees screaming. Fire laced through my veins. Something ripped inside of me, trying to break free.

“Shit! She’s alive?” Zachary sprang away from me, hands in the air.

“Yes, she’s alive, you idiot!” Cassandra yelled. She knelt beside me. “Hades!”

I gasped. My arms were crossed over my chest, gripping my shoulders to hold myself together. My vision swam. I doubled over, my head nearly touching the stone floor.

“What happened?” Hades appeared in front of me. He knelt beside me, a frown marring his otherwise perfect face. He touched my shoulder and I cried out. Something within me shifted and suddenly the pain was gone.

I stared up at him, breathing hard. “What—”

Hades was already on his feet, turning on the Reaper. “What are you doing here?”

“I didn’t know she was alive, I swear!”

“I didn’t ask if you knew she was alive, I asked what you’re doing here.”

“What happened?” I asked Cassandra when she offered me her hand and helped me up.

“Reapers collect souls and bring them to the Underworld,” she explained.

“Thanatos sent me. I was getting the list. I’m really sorry.” Zachary met my eyes. “I didn’t know you were alive.”

That horrible feeling had been my soul? I stared at Zachary in disbelief. He looked terrified. I followed his gaze to Hades.

“It was my fault. I shook his hand. I didn’t know that would happen.”

Cassandra rolled her eyes. “He shouldn’t be here at all, and he knows it. You should be able to walk around freely in your own palace.”

“Her own . . . ” Zachary paled. “Oh shit. I mean, I’m really really sorry. I didn’t know we have a queen.”

I opened my mouth to correct him, but Cassandra squeezed my hand.

Hades looked at Cassandra, then back at Zachary. “Go find Thanatos and bring him to me.”

Zachary stumbled away, apologizing with every step.


This week I’m focusing on Halloween appropriate Greek Myths, so it seemed like Reapers were a good place to start.  Reapers don’t (to my knowledge) have much of a place in Greek Mythology besides Thanatos, and Cronus. I take a bit about Thanatos a few weeks ago. He gets the Reaper association because he’s the god of death. Cronus gets it nod because he used a sickle to castrate his father.

There is a god of death in just about every cultures but the idea of multiple Reapers is, as far as I can tell, pretty new. Obviously shows like “Dead Like Me” or “Supernatural” have played a part, and I owe a huge debt of my depiction of Reapers to the “Soul Screamers” series by Rachel Vincent. (Amazing series, seriously everyone should read it).

In my version Reapers are just regular souls granted powers by Thanatos and Hades to go release souls from dead bodies. They don’t actually kill anyone, they just release the souls. I felt like that was an important distinction. Death is part of the natural cycle decided on by all the gods, it’s not just Hades’ evil decision, and the Reapers aren’t typically just hanging around waiting to maliciously kill someone. Their touch is a mercy.

Reapers are volunteers, but they must meet some criteria. The first being that everyone they knew in life is dead. There’s probably more to the selection process, but for now I’m keeping my options open. While Reapers don’t typically kill people they do have the ability. If they touch a human they release their soul, dead or not. They can also hurt Persephone quite a bit because she hasn’t come into her powers yet so her soul still tries to leave at their touch, it just can’t go anywhere.

The Reapers play a pivotal role in the second book of the series, but we’ll see more of them as the series progresses.

Mythology Monday: Werewolves


Greek mythology does feature a werewolf myth. Enjoy this deleted scene from a (very) early draft of Persephone to learn the full story behind werewolves.

Hestia leaned back, considering me with her fiery eyes. “Have you heard of the demigod Arcas, who killed the first werewolf–”

“Werewolf?” I sputtered.

“Zeus wished to add the muse Callisto to his list of conquests, however she was devoted to Artemis, and refused his advances. Zeus then disguised himself as Artemis, and seduced her.”

I raised my eyes at this information as Hestia continued, “Callisto was soon with child, and Artemis was enraged. Once the child was born, Artemis turned Callisto into a bear, and Zeus hid the child Arcas from Artemis.

He grew, and lived a relatively normal life until one day he got in trouble for stealing from King Lycaon. Once Lycaon discovered who he possessed in his dungeons, he tried to blackmail Zeus, threatening to kill Arcas unless Zeus blessed him with more wealth and power.”

I laughed, and she smiled at me, “Yes, not his brightest moment. Zeus cursed the king to become a werewolf, and allowed his son to have the honor of hunting down a beast with all the strength of a wolf and all the cunning of man–”

“The perfect game,” I muttered.

“Beg pardon?”

“Never mind,” I said waving my hand for her to continue.

“After a period of adjustment, Arcas hunted the King and successfully killed him, though he received a mortal wound in the process–”

“Did he have any kids? Pass down the curse?”

“Any children he created in human form remained human, and any children he created in wolf form were wolf.”

“Did he bite anyone?”

“That would not change them into a wolf. The only way to transform from human to animal is to be cursed by a god.”

“Oh.” I said disappointed.

Hestia smiled at me, “As Arcas lay dying in the woods, a large bear suddenly approached him–”

“Oh no!”

“Yes, the bear was his mother, as he drew back his bow to kill her, and when she realized he did not recognize her, despite her lingering in the shadows and watching him his entire life, she died of a broken heart. Zeus was horrified by their deaths, and in a rare moment of guilt memorialized them both in the stars as the constellations Ursa Major, and Ursa Minor.”

Mythology Monday: Vampires


Hades snorted. “These aren’t books, these are—” He paused. “Dusk? Seriously?”
“What? It’s good!”
“I considered creating a dimension of Tartarus that forced souls to watch the movie based on this book for all eternity. Complete with shrieking harpy fan girls in the audience.”
I snatched my phone back. “Have you even seen it?”
“Cassandra made me watch it.” Hades shuddered.
“It’s a great movie and an even better book!”
“It’s ludicrous. What is with this recent human obsession with vampires?”
I sat up in my chair. “Were there ever any vampires?”
“Well, there was Hecate’s daughter, Empusa. She would seduce men and drink their blood as they slept. Poseidon’s daughter, Lamia—”
“Like the Midnight World books!”
I scooted my chair closer to him and pulled up the book on my phone. “Born vampires are called Lamia, and made vampires are called—”
“Yeah, sorry I asked. Anyway, Lamia was Poseidon’s daughter. She had an affair with Zeus and had several kids. Hera found out about it and forced her to devour her children—” I gasped and Hades paused. He looked as though he was going to say something, perhaps to defend Hera, then shrugged and continued with the story. “Afterward, Lamia continued to drink the blood of mortal children until Zeus took pity on her and removed her eyes.”
“How exactly was that supposed to help?”
“It makes it harder to catch the children.”
I shook my head. “That’s…you know what, there are no words.”
“There were also Striges, or Strix, which were birds that fed on blood, and there was that island of the blood dri—”
“Okay! I’m sorry I asked.” I held up my hands in surrender. “I meant—” I pointed to my phone “—vampires like these.”
“Refined gentlemen who occasionally drink blood? It’s a complete myth.”
I thought it was ironic to hear that from Hades while sitting in the Underworld, but refrained from pointing that out. “What’s your favorite book? Oh, let me guess. Inferno.”


In honor of my favorite holiday that’s just around the corner, I’m doing a vampire edition of Mythology Monday. There’s not a lot on vampires in Greek mythology, but here’s a few examples:

–The Odyssey features an “island of the blood drinkers.” Sounds vampiric enough for me. I mean, it’s a bit of a stretch because they were technically cannibalistic giants called Laestrygonians who would just as soon eat you as drink your blood. But they did drink blood and they had vampiric like servants I’ll go into more later, so I’m counting it.

Then there’s the Stardust witches, or rather, the mythical counterparts Gaimen referenced in his amazing novel.

Hecate had a daughter named Empusa that would seduce men an drink their blood while they slept. She’s likely an early explanation for sleep paralysis and she basically acted in mythology like a succubus. The goddess later devolved into a type of specter that was half-vampire half banshee in description.

Hades did a good job with the Lamia myth above, so I’ll just leave that there.

Mormo was a vampiric like creature who would bite bad children. She would also steal children and take them to the queen of the Laestrygonians.

Striges are an owl like vampiric children who would drink the blood of babies after they fed the babies poisoned breastmilk. They’re mostly a Roman myth. Occasional they would forgo babies and go after grown men. No breastmilk involved there, just seduction, sex, then the draining of blood.

Mythology Monday: Hephaestus


Ares knocked again, lacing it with enough power to shake the building. “I know you’re in there!”

“Go away!” A gruff voice shouted back.

“Aw, hell.” Ares clenched his fist and flames sprang up from his flesh. He touched his hand to the glass, and it shattered.

“That’s—” I started.

“Awesome?” Ares interrupted, flashing me a grin.

“Not how glass reacts to fire.” I finished, staring at the pellets of glass covering the sidewalk.

Ares frowned at me and started to say something, but was cut off when a huge hulking shape burst from the arcade screaming obscenities and tackled him.

Ares lit up like a match, flames encasing his body like the top of a baked Alaska. The man punching the daylights out of Ares was undaunted by the fire.

“Knock it off!” I pulled at the big guy’s shoulder. Fire licked my arm and I yelped, surprised by the unexpected pain. The man, Hephaestus, I realized, spun around at my touch and raised his hand as if he were going to hit me, then froze.

I shifted uncomfortably under his intense stare.

“Yeah, she’s pretty. Now get off me.” Ares pushed at the bigger man until he relented. “You okay?”

He grabbed my hand, which was taking its sweet time healing. A pulse of power passed through me, speeding up the process, but I hardly noticed.

Hephaestus stood, towering above me, but that wasn’t what made me step back in fear.

Half of his face was an unrecognizable web of scar tissue. It looked melted. Skin hung in odd places. His empty eye socket drooped toward his nose. Like one of those Photoshop tricks where you click the mouse, and an image swirls into a grotesque parody of its former self.

“What happened to you?” I gasped. Gods could heal from anything, so what could possibly disfigure a deity? I couldn’t tear my eyes away from his face. It rippled, like a current of electricity was passing under his skin.

“I took my weapons back.”

I shuddered as images of the long metal stakes bombarded my mind. Once upon a time, he’d created a weapon that could kill gods with a scratch, but they’d all been melted down centuries ago.

“I’ve told you a hundred thousand times,” he continued, glowering at Ares, “I don’t make them anymore. Bringing her along to charm me into it is just low.”


Hephaestus was perhaps one of the most interesting gods in Greek mythology. He was a god who was either disabled or somehow deformed (the myths vary), which is what people focus on, but Hephaestus was also an incredibly powerful artist. Like Athena, Hephaestus gave skill to mortal artists and was believed to have taught men the arts alongside the goddess of wisdom, which would account for all the temples and festivals they had in common. Both were also believed to have healing powers. He also made almost every magical weapon and tool every featured in Greek mythology: Hermes’ sandals, Poseidon’s trident, Aphrodite’s girdle, every throne on Olympus, Chariots, Pandora, the very fire Prometheus stole, and almost every other item imbued with magical power. He also created Automatons and other robot like machines that sound like something you’d see in that creepy movie “9.” The location of his forge varied by myth. It was either in Olympus, in Poseidon’s realm, in volcanoes, or Underworld adjacent.

He is either the son of Zeus and Hera, or Hera’s alone as revenge for Athena. He was cast out of Olympus for either having a deformed foot, or for protecting Hera from Zeus’ advances. He was raised by Thetis, the mother of Achilles, or the citizens of Lemnos, who taught him their craft, or both (he returned after being cast out by Hera and was cast out by Zeus.) The spot where he fell in Lemnos was believed to cure madness, the bites of snakes, and hemorrhage. Priests of Hephaestus knew how to cure wounds inflicted by snakes. On Lemnos, Hephaestus hooked up with a sea nymph named Cabeiro, and the two had two children who became metal workings gods called the Cabeiri. Sometimes his foot is messed up in the fall from Olympus (he fell for over a day), sometimes since birth, sometimes by arsenic, and sometimes not at all.

Hephaestus got his revenge for being cast out by sending Hera a beautifully crafted throne that would not let her get up once she sat down. When the Olympians begged his help to release their mother, Hephaestus simply said he had no mother. Eventually, Dionysus got him drunk enough to relent and he released Hera so long as his banishment was revoked and he could marry Aphrodite (or possibly Zeus gave Aphrodite to him to stop the other gods from fighting over her). Although according to Homer he married the youngest Grace and Aphrodite’s personal messenger, Aglaea. Other accounts say he married Aglaea after his divorce to Aphrodite and they had several children together (the youngest set of Graces): Eucleia (“Good Repute”), Eupheme (“Acclaim”), Euthenia (“Prosperity”), and Philophrosyne (“Welcome”).

Aphrodite and Hepheastus had, by all accounts, a loveless marriage that resulted in no children. Aphrodite was always off cheating with Ares (she gets a bad wrap for this, but she and Ares were involved long before Hephaestus blackmailed Zeus/Hera). Once Hephaestus set a trap and caught the two in a net mid-sex, then put the net on display for all the gods to come have a look at the cheating couple and afterwards, (might have) divorced her.

Hephaestus was by no means faithful himself. Once Athena visited Hephaestus’ forge to ask for weapons and he tried to force himself on her, but she teleported out from beneath him before she could come to any harm and his sperm impregnated the earth (Gaia) with Erichthonius. Athena ended up raising the kid (kind of, but that’s another myth) and he later went on to rule Athens.

Hepheastus also (might have) hooked up with a nymph in Sicily (Aetna) and (depending on the myth) produced a set of twins who became associated with two geysers that led to the Underworld. And he was a known consort of Anticleia and had one son by her named Periphetes. Periphetes was lame in one leg and had one eye like a cyclops. He beat travelers on the road from Athens to Troezen to death with a club for kicks until Theseus killed him.

Hepheastus also had a handful of mortal children, kings, heroes and Argonauts mostly, by different women, and his Roman equivalent Vulcan also had two more sons, a fire breathing cannibal named Calcus (killed by Hercules) and a blind founder of Praeneste, Caeculus.

Mythology Monday: The Three Judges of the Underworld


“Making friends already?” Hades asked. I looked at him in mute appeal, and he grinned. “Persephone, allow me to introduce you to everyone. You’ve met Moirae, I see.” At my nod he continued. “This is Charon, my ferryman; Thanatos, God of Death; his twin brother Hypnos, God of Sleep; and Aeacus, Rhadamanthus—”

“Call me Rhad,” he interjected.

“—and Minos, my judges,” Hades finished.

I nodded as each man stood in turn. I knew some of the names from Latin class but seeing them matched up with actual faces was unnerving.

“And this is my—” Hades broke off and cleared his throat. “May I present my wife, Persephone.”

I moved to stand as they had for me, but Hades put a firm hand on my shoulder, keeping me in place. They all bowed then returned to their seats. People dressed in white robes served the food. I wondered if they were the people who drank from the Lethe. Dinner chatter began on the far side of the table, seeming to revolve around Charon recounting his day on the ferry.

I stared down at the white tablecloth, trying to remember which of the silver utensils I needed to use for the first course. A silver plate was placed before me with a fried pink oyster mushroom served with grapefruit. It was topped with an orange nasturtium blossom.

“So . . . ” I turned to Moirae, who glared daggers at me, and quickly turned back to Hades. “Uh, what did you do today?”

He looked surprised by the question. “It’s barely been an hour since I last saw you.”

“It’s called small talk,” I snapped. “You should try it some time.”

He sighed. “Fine. I spoke with Hestia about your history lessons, arranged for you to begin self-defense lessons with Charon—”

“What?” Charon piped up from his end of the table. “When did that happen?”

“Just now,” Hades said around a bite of chicken. “I’m multitasking.”

“Why does she need to learn self-defense?” Aeacus asked.

I popped the flower into my mouth, savoring the spicy flavor. I wondered how they’d known I was a vegan. Everyone had something different on their plates. Maybe it was just a cool Underworld trick, like the rooms decorating themselves.

“You’re going to have Charon teach her?” asked Thanatos. “He won’t be able to shut up long enough to teach her a single move. I’m way better at self-defense.”

“Not everyone can kill someone just by touching them,” Hypnos pointed out.

“You’ll be busy guarding Persephone any time she leaves the palace.” He looked at me. “You’re perfectly safe in all but the public areas of the palace. Only certain souls can enter the living quarters. Just stay out of the public sections, the ballroom, the front lobby, the banquet hall, and the court room, unless either myself, Cassandra, or Thanatos are with you.”

“Hah!” Thanatos laughed at Charon. “You may be the self-defense guru, or whatever, but I’m the one people want around if there’s any real trouble.” He looked at Hades. “I’m going to need to recruit more Reapers to cover my shift.”

“What?” Cassandra snapped. “You have too many Reapers already! One of them nearly killed Persephone today.” She saw my eyes widen and sighed. “Fine, not nearly killed. Gods, you deities need to learn to appreciate a good exaggeration.”

“I’m well aware of what happened this afternoon.” Thanatos yawned. “And since my Reapers are banned from the living quarters, that means I have to distribute the list. If I’m also expected to act as a guard, then I’ll need more Reapers to keep things moving smoothly.”

“And last week?” Cassandra asked. “What was the reason then?”

“You guys won’t believe who I met on the ferry today,” Charon said from his side of the table.

“Who?” Minos asked.

“Okay, you guys remember that movie with the . . . ”

I didn’t get to hear the rest of his sentence because Thanatos drowned him out. “More people are dying every day. I need help.”

I shifted closer to Charon, but couldn’t hear him over Cassandra.

“Bull! You only had a handful of Reapers during the plague!”

“And maybe a tenth of the population,” he retorted.

“How many do you need?” Hades asked.

Cassandra sighed loudly and sat back in her seat. Heads shook around the table, and I caught more than a few amused grins. Cassandra seemed to be the only one who was bothered by the Reapers.

“A hundred?”

“You get fifty. And keep them out of the palace, would you?”

Thanatos grinned and took a bite of his steak. I studied him closely. He wore black robes, grim-reaper style. His dark hair was pulled back from his narrow face. His dark eyes met mine from across the table and I gulped, staring hard at the soup before me. I didn’t want Death shadowing me. I glanced at his twin brother, Hypnos. He looked just like Thanatos, only his robes, eyes, and hair were grey. Not old-people grey; more like the color of smoke.

Charon laughed. “Give us a week, Thanatos. Persephone will be able to kick your bony ass across the Styx.”

The table erupted into cacophony. Everyone was talking over everyone else, adding wagers and jesting with each other. Lethians deftly ducked between the dueling deities, serving the main course. A plate of corn-filled phyllo tulips and eggplant topped with tomato sauce was put in front of me and I took a nervous bite.

“You’re on!” Thanatos replied. He gave me a devilish grin. “One week, Persephone.”

“That’s okay,” I squeaked. I didn’t want to go hand to hand against Death.

No one heard me. Hades’ eyes glittered in amusement. He gave me a look that said see what you started? as plainly as if he had spoken.

“I’m also trying to clear my schedule to teach you about your abilities.” Hades smiled wryly. “And I’ve still got to prepare for Brumalia. You’re keeping me busy.”

“I’m sorry. I don’t mean to be any trouble.”

He chuckled. “Don’t apologize. It’s a welcome diversion.”

“Then thank you.”

“You’re welcome,” he said, seeming pleased.

“Well, since no one else is asking,” Charon called from the end of the table, “I suppose it’s up to me. Hades, when did you get a wife?”

Everyone laughed. “You miss everything.” Cassandra snickered.

“Damn those needy souls,” Charon joked, sliding an easy grin my way, his gray eyes twinkling. “So what happened? Hades sweep you off your feet?”

“You could say that.” I glanced at Hades. I wasn’t sure what I was allowed to disclose.

“See, I had this vision—” Cassandra began.

“Always visions with you,” Thanatos groaned.

“—that Persephone was in trouble. So I calmly told Hades—”

“If by calmly you mean bursting into the throne room shrieking like a banshee,” Hades teased.

“I do not shriek,” Cassandra said indignantly.

“Yelled, then.” Rhad’s white teeth gleamed against his midnight-dark skin.

“Whatever. Anyway, Hades took off—”

“Since when did you have visions about the living?” Hypnos interrupted.

“Two living deities were involved,” Cassandra said. “These days that’s unheard of.”

“Two?” Minos asked, stroking his gray beard. “So you must be . . . ” He trailed off, looking at me speculatively.

“Goddess of Spring,” I supplied.

There were murmurs of approval from around the table.

“You’re a new one.” Hypnos sounded intrigued. “How old are you?”

Cassandra smacked him over the head. “Heathen!”

“Back to the story,” Charon said impatiently. “What was happening topside?”

Hades took over then, recounting the story dramatically. Anytime he made himself sound too heroic Cassandra put him in his place. I looked around the table with the fresh realization that this group wasn’t just a collection of souls or subjects but a trusted inner circle.

“Well, Persephone, it’s great to meet you.” Aeacus straightened his dark robes.

I nodded at him. “Thank you.”

“Don’t you worry any about any demigods,” Charon said. “Anyone who comes down here with the intent to do you harm will regret it.”

“Ah yes,” Cassandra teased. “Charon could do something really helpful, like hit them with an oar.”

“Hey! I’m the self-defense guru! Remember?”

“He could always talk them to death,” Thanatos said.

“Cassandra could shriek at them.” Hades snickered.

I laughed despite myself. For the rest of the meal, Charon grilled me about life among the living. I was surprised my voice wasn’t hoarse by the end of the meal.


In honor of Labor Day, I’d like to make a shout out to the unsung heroes of the Underworld. The people who keep it running. So today, I’m going to honor the judges of the Underworld.

Aeacus: In life, Aeacus was the son of Zeus and the demigoddess Aegina or Europa depending on the source. He may or may not have ruled over an island of ants that were turned into people (very long story) depending on the source of the myth. Aeacus ruled an island named after his mother and was by all accounts was a just and fair ruler. He even settled divine disputes.

Apollo and Poseidon asked Aeacus to help build the walls of Troy, which would later fall at the hands of his descendants. His grandkids were Achilles and Ajax. His great-great-great to an exponential degree descended was Alexander the Great. At least Alexander claimed that anyway.

Rhadamanthus is son to Zeus and Europa, brother to Minos (and by some sources Aeacus). In life he was a king, depending on the source he may have been married to Ariadne (more on her later). There was some tension between him and Minos over the rule of Crete, but no one could deny the island was governed by an excellent set of laws. Rhad was known for his unbreakable integrity.

Literature hasn’t been terribly kind to poor Rhad. Keats called him old, Yeats called him bland, and Eliot used his name as an insult. I can kind of see why. I did TONS of research on every character I pulled into Persephone. There wasn’t much to find on this guy other than he was honest.

Minos was the last of the three judges of the Underworld. He was also a child of Zeus and Europa, and a king just like this brother(s). The similarities between the siblings end there. Minos ruled Crete. Every year Minos chose nine girls and nine boys and send them to the labyrinth to be eaten by the Minotaur.

Funny story, that Minotaur. See once upon a time, Poseidon answered Minos’ prayers and sent him a beautiful white bull with the catch that he had to sacrifice it. Minor sacrificed an ugly bull instead. So Poseidon got mad. He asked Aphrodite to make Minos’ wife fall in love with the bull. Nine months later, a Minotaur was born. Horrified and embarrassed, Minos begged Daedalus to construct a labyrinth the Minotaur could never escape from.

Then he imprisoned Daedalus and his son Icarus so they could never reveal the secret of the labyrinth. More on them later.

Minos was known as the most ancient king to utilize a navy. He also has kind of split personalities. In half the myths he’s a just fair king, in the other half he’s feeding children to the Minotaur. There’s a timing issue as well, he ruled in two very different times depending on the source you read. Most researchers believe there may have been two Minos’, but the stories got combined much like the two Aphrodite’s.

Mythology Monday: Ambrosia


“Mmm . . . this is sweet. What is it?” I took a longer sip.

“Yours? Sparkling white grape juice.” He grinned. “Did I mention that I’m afraid of your mother?”

I rolled my eyes and finished the glass. It didn’t taste like any grape juice I’d ever had, but that wasn’t surprising. Everything in the Underworld had a richer flavor. Hades made his way around the room, greeting the souls between dances. I stayed close, keeping an eye on the ballroom for any demigods. When another glass found its way into my hand I smiled. I could get used to having servants.

The next time Hades invited me to dance a grin stretched across my face. My teeth felt tingly, and all the dancing was making me dizzy. As he led me through the simple motions I gave him an appraising look.

“You look nice tonight.”

Surprise flitted across Hades’ face. “Thank you. You look lovely as well.”

“I always kind of figured you’d be ugly.”

Hades blinked. “Excuse me?”

I giggled. “Well, you know, in books and movies you’re always, like, deformed or something crazy. You know, like a reflection of your soul?”

“Ah, I take it you mean my ugly and deformed soul?” Hades kept his voice light. He held me at arm’s length and gave me a quick once-over. I felt a ping of power pulse through me.

“No. That’s not what I meant.” I touched my hand to my forehead, trying to make sense of my jumbled thoughts. “I don’t think you or your soul is ugly. You’re actually pretty hot.”

Hades raised an eyebrow. “I see. Not so fast.” Hades intercepted a champagne glass from a tall Lethian and studied the liquid carefully. After a cautious sniff he took a small sip, and his eyes widened.

“Something wrong?”

I jumped at the sound of Thanatos’ voice. I hadn’t realized he was behind me.

“Somehow Persephone was given ambrosia instead of grape juice,” Hades replied.

Thanatos raised an eyebrow. “How much did she drink?”

“Is this a god thing?” I asked, growing annoyed. “Talking about people like they aren’t standing right there? What’s ambrosia? Some kind of poison?” The thought should have alarmed me, but I found it very difficult to care at the moment. Everyone looked so nice, and the music was so pretty.

“It’s just a divine drink,” Hades assured me. “It’s not poisonous. Well, not in the traditional sense of the word.”

“Do you think someone gave it to me on purpose?”

Hades frowned. “I can’t imagine what purpose it would serve. It was probably just a mix-up, but Thanatos, would you mind interviewing the Lethians who were in charge of our drinks?”

“Sure. Did you want me to take her to her rooms?”

Hades stared at me, considering. “Do you drink? In the living realm, I mean?”

I shook my head. “I’m boring. Mom always asks me to promise her not to drink anytime I go out.”

“Demeter does that?” Hades sounded surprised.

Thanatos let out a low whistle and shook his head.

My mouth dropped open. I couldn’t lie. My mom wasn’t lax. She didn’t trust me. She just knew if I promised not to drink, I physically wouldn’t be able to do it.

“That bitch!”

Thanatos snorted, and Hades raised an eyebrow.

“Water for her.” He motioned to a Lethian for a refill.

When our glasses arrived, Hades tested my drink before passing it to me. “I’ve got her, Thanatos. Go on.”

Thanatos studied me, looking so serious that I giggled. “Hades, she’ll only embarrass herself. Let me get her out of the—”

“She is right here and she doesn’t want to go back to her room. She wants to dance and have fun.”

“Yes, Thanatos, you’re being rude.” Hades’ lips twitched as though he was suppressing a grin. “See to the Lethians.”

“I really don’t think—”

“What exactly are you worried about?” Hades asked.

“You’re a lot taller than Thanatos,” I observed.

Thanatos met Hades’ eyes with an unreadable expression on his face. “If someone got close enough to switch her drink—”

“To what end?”

“Compromise her judgment? Lower her guard? Should I go on? She’s vulnerable.”

“She is right here,” I grumbled.

“Yes, you are.” Hades grinned. “I need you to stay with me until you’re safe in your room. Would you be willing to do that?”


Hades gave Thanatos a look. “Satisfied?”

Thanatos made a noncommittal noise and signaled a Lethian from the crowd.

Hades shook his head when Thanatos disappeared into the crowd. “He worries too much.”

“You’re not worried?”

Something flickered in Hades’ eyes but it was gone before I could interpret it. “It was probably an innocent mistake. But still . . . I’d rather not have you out of my sight.” He held out his hand. “Still want to dance?”

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 sat down on the cool grass. “Have you ever eaten one of these? They’re delicious.” I offered him a seed, and he took it, sitting down beside me.

“I’ve tried everything. I was there when your mom came up with this one.” He leaned back, studying the sky.

I followed his gaze. The sky was empty, faintly glowing with the same soft light that filled the Underworld. It was never quite dark here, but never bright enough for my tastes. “You guys really need to get a moon.” I tilted my head back further. “Where are the stars?”

“This is the Underworld. The sky is just a decoration.”

“Stars are pretty.”

“Stars are tragic.” Hades turned to face me. “Most of the stars are nothing but reminders of love gone horribly wrong, or men challenging the gods.”

“I thought they were gas giants.”

Hades waved his hand. “Semantics. The constellations they form are nothing but sad stories. Why would anyone want to have a constant reminder of tragedy hanging above their head?”

I thought about that for a minute, studying the blank sky. “Did you play a part in any of those tragedies?”

He met my eyes and something in them set my heart beating uncomfortably hard. “No.”

I smiled. “You’re nothing like I pictured you.”

“Yeah, let’s not go down this road again. If you start talking about how my hair should be on fire, or how evil I should be, I might take Thanatos’ advice.”

“You’re not evil.”

“You don’t think so?” Hades asked, studying my face. “After what I did to you?”

“You saved me.”

“I could have handled it better. I could have taken a second to think, found some way that wouldn’t tie you to me.” He hesitated. “But when I saw you, there was just something about you . . . ” He trailed off and looked at the sky. “Maybe I didn’t want to find another way. What if I wasn’t just impulsive, what if I was selfish? What kind of a person does that make me?”

I burst out laughing. “Do you always over-think things so much? You saved my life. That’s about as selfless as it gets. Being down here isn’t convenient, and being married is a little weird, but it’s just a few months. It’s not like you get anything out of this, and I’ve been such a brat about it.” I shook my head, enjoying the wave of dizziness that accompanied the motion. “Thank you, Hades. For everything. Really.” I leaned over and kissed his cheek, giggling at the surprised look on his face. “I owe you, big time.”

“I don’t think you understand.” He reached toward me. I blinked when he brushed a strand of my hair behind my ear. “It’s not just a few—”

“Hey, Hades! Persephone!” Cassandra called. She laughed when she found the grove. “Oops, hope I’m not interrupting anything.”

“Of course not.” Hades stood, brushed himself off, and extended his hand. I lay frozen, hand touching my face where the ghost of his fingers had brushed against my skin.

“Persephone.” His voice was gentle. I looked up and grabbed his hand. “We should get back to the party.”


Ambrosia was the divine drink (and sometimes food and sometimes perfume for Aphrodite) of the gods. It is sometimes used interchangeably with Nectar, a divine drink. Other times Nectar is the drink and ambrosia is the food. Other times Nectar is the food and Ambrosia is the drink. For my purposes, Ambrosia is the “golden Nectar of the gods.” Persephone drinks a glass in book one, and it gets her very, very drunk very, very fast. In my series it’s the only drink that can actually get gods drunk, and the impact it has on humans is even more pronounced.

Depending on the myth, Ambrosia is either created by the earth in a sort of atmospheric offering to the gods and carried to Olympus by pretty gods, or Ambrosia was a nymph who was assaulted and turned into a grape vine to escape.

In mythology, the drink could turn mortals immortal, heal, and restore youth. It could also keep corpses fresh and life like for all time. Demigods drank it on occasion with no side effects, but the food/drink/perfume was jealously guarded from mortals. Tantalus was sent to a special place in hell because he tried to steal it. More on that in an upcoming Mythology Monday.

That’s not to say that Ambrosia was never given to mortals, just not without a gods approval. Achilles was anointed with Ambrosia (except his heel) in some versions of the myth, and Psyche was annointed with Ambrosia at her wedding so she could marry Cupid.

Liquids like Ambrosia pop up in all kinds of lore. I use it more like fairy wine. There are references to ambrosia on Egyptian statues of Anubis. “I am death…I eat ambrosia and drink blood.” Creepy much?

For Real Friday: Unrealistic Relationships


I remember the day when I figured out that I would hate every single character I was in love with if I met them in real life. The soulmate trope is often accompanied by love/hate the love/hate relationship trope until the two characters mutually agree they’re in love, at which point they become sappy, uninteresting, and obsessed with one another. I knew I didn’t have the patience or the inclination to get involved with a love/hate relationship. If I hate someone, I hate them. There’s no romantic tension, no hidden attraction. They have done something that makes them unattractive to me on that level until they either drastically change or enough time passes by without them around that I forget why I hate them. That may just be me though. I don’t know.

The love/hate thing is actually kind of dangerous, because it often plays into the aggression is sexy myth and it teaches women to ignore their instincts. Even if a guy isn’t actually dangerous, if you don’t like him, can’t stand to be around him, and do nothing but argue if you’re near each other, chances are your relationship won’t be a happy one. I was very careful with this in my books. Persephone and Hades snark at each other a good bit when they meet, but I was very, very, very careful to keep it about circumstance. Once she got to know Hades, she liked him. The circumstances under which they met sucked. But personality wise they were never incompatible.

I was a lot older when I figured out that the other side of the coin was equally unrealistic. All the romances I’d read or watched featured this unbelievably romantic guy who would go to the ends of the earth for his significant other. He’d be obsessed and didn’t actually appear to have a life outside of who they’re interested in beyond the basic trappings that were used to show what an amazing guy he was for that particular girl  (his job showed he was stable/creative/whatever, his family showed he cared about people, and sometimes he’d have a pet). Whatever personality he had when the love/hate trope was going on vanished into the relationship once he got the girl. It wasn’t until I started dating that I realized that, while romantic, this trope is every bit as damaging as the love/hate trope.

When you are in a relationship with another person, you are in a relationship with another entire person. Even if they’re your soulmate. Trust me, I married my high school sweetheart. I met him, we clicked, and lived happily ever after. If soulmates are a thing, I found mine and we knew it instantly. But he’s a complete person with or without me. He has a life and if I wasn’t in it, maybe it wouldn’t be as awesome, but he wouldn’t wither away to nothingness because he’s a healthy human. You want your significant other to have a life outside of you.

There have been a few points since I met my husband where for some reason or another we were all we had. We’d just moved to a new place where we knew no one, a job change took one of us away from everyone in our social circle, random emotional stuff like say, giving birth and all the chemicals that come with that that make you feel like nothing outside of your little family matters. We celebrated when those moments ended because while we love each other lots and lots it gets super super frustrating to be the only person in a relationship with a life outside of it if you ever say, want to hang out with your friends, enjoy your hobby, or just be away from that other person for a minute. We’re always there to lean on, but your significant other shouldn’t be all you have. That’s not healthy. Which is another thing I was careful to convey in Persephone. She and Hades have full lives outside of one another. They have friends and family and hobbies and purposes that don’t revolve around their relationship.

As for the last part of the trope. It’s cool to be with someone who wants to move the moon and stars for you, but they should never have to. Gender reverse that particular expectation and consider how uncomfortable it makes you. There’s a reason for that. If someone loves you, they shouldn’t expect you to give up some major thing that makes you you for the sake of your relationship. If someone loves you, they shouldn’t want you to sacrifice something that makes you happy so you can prove how much you love them. If someone loves you, they shouldn’t want you to do something impossible, frustrating, or difficult just to make them happy. It means a lot when they do, but it shouldn’t be an expectation. That is why I didn’t set up my series as Persephone having to choose between the living realm and Hades. She at a certain point had to choose between having a normal life and being a goddess, but it wasn’t actually a choice and Hades was never part of that equation. He was a given no matter which life she stuck with. I also never had them make massive, life changing decisions because of each other. They influenced each other’s choices, sure. That’s pretty typical of all relationships, but if you look closely, there were never choices they made because it was the only way they would work. Every character in the third book made the assumption that Hades was willing to destroy everything to save Persephone but he outright explained that wasn’t the case. He wanted to save her, and acknowledged she was worth paying that price but he also explained the lengths he was willing to go to had more to do with saving the living realm and the Underworld from Zeus. Remember, he can’t lie.

I love reading romances. I like watching romances. I love the love/hate dynamic and the extreme love dynamic. Just know it’s not a realistic expectation to bring to your own relationships. If you did find that exact relationship you read about, you’d hate it because those models work in fiction but in real life they aren’t healthy. So read, enjoy, but know you deserve a relationship that’s better than fiction.

Mythology Monday: The creation of man


“There’s a myth about broken souls,” Joel said finally. “I’m surprised Orpheus hasn’t heard it. As crazy as he is about all that stuff.”

I leaned against Joel, and he draped his arm over my shoulder. “What is it?”

“When the gods created humans, they didn’t look like us. They had four legs, four arms, two faces, and one soul. They were complete and happy. But they were too fulfilled. Too powerful.”

“They were a threat,” I murmured.

“Exactly. Zeus split them in two saying that men would never amount to anything if they spent half of their lives searching for their other half.” He gave me a significant look. “Some people get lucky and find their soul mates, but the rest will always be searching to fill that void in their lives.”

“Do you think the gods have soul mates?” I winced at the wistfulness in my voice.

“Why would they need them?”


Once the titans were defeated, Zeus and his siblings divided their roles. Zeus took the domain of the skies and of Olympus, the palace/mountain of the gods, Hades took the Underworld, Poseidon too the ocean, Demeter became goddess of the harvest, Hestia became goddess of the hearth and home, and Hera became queen of the gods.

Zeus was terrified of having children. He’d seen the pattern of divine children killing their parents and decided it wasn’t for him, so when his first child, Athena, was born, he ate her. That lasted for all of a day before she popped out if his head fully grown, wearing full armor, in the world’s worst migraine. After that he gave up and had a ton of kids. Then the gods created humans. Prometheus and two other Titans who did not take sides during the Titan war helped to fashion humans out of clay and Athena breathed life into them.

Humans didn’t used to look like we do now. They had four arms, legs, and two faces and one soul. But they were too happy and too fulfilled and didn’t fear or worship the gods enough to be useful. So Zeus cut them in half, into us. So long as humans spent their lives searching for their missing halves they could never amount to anything.

Zeus also tormented man by giving some men more intelligence, strength, and power than others, and by creating a perfect woman. Pandora. He sent her to Prometheus’s brother, Epimethius. Prometheus had warned him to never accept a gift from Zeus, but at the sight of her beauty he couldn’t resist. He gave her a box and told her she must never open it.

Naturally she did and in it all the horrors of the world flew out. Evil, mistrust, sickness, worry, the only good thing in the box was at the very bottom, hope.

The humans fell into a half-existence. The world was harsh and unforgiving and the humans were hungry and cold. Prometheus saw their suffering and brought them the gift of fire. Zeus saw this betrayal and punished him by staking him to a boulder. Every day he is picked apart and rated by an eagle only to heal overnight and begin the torture anew the next day.

I’ve made lists!

persephone promo graphicSo in case you didn’t know, Persephone is on sale for 1.99 right now. And it’s doing really well! I’m number My sales rank at the moment is 402 so I’m just here with my writer’s group jumping up and down. #1 in Greek mythology books and kindle books and 8 in YA fiction and literature with ALL these writers!So forgive me in advance for the 8 million tweets, fb updates, and whatnot that are coming, because oh my gosh!

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