Hi everyone! This is a sample from my book Orpheum, which is based on the mythology surrounding Orpheus and the Maenads. It includes some unique insights about fauns and satyrs. My interpretation is mythology-inspired and supported by the available evidence, but not universally accepted.
I’m also giving away a copy of Orpheum, along with a copy of Alexandra Bracken’s Passenger and Victoria Schwab’s This Savage Song (which also both feature violin players).
Music lovers giveaway
Professor Paleva made me practice until my fingers bled. I waited for her to notice slick red running down my violin strings, but she didn’t let up for another half hour. I pushed past the pain but I was having trouble hitting the right notes. Finally she sighed and nodded that we were done.
I took my hand off my instrument and stretched my fingers. She handed me a damp rag to wash them off.
I thought about what Denzi had done to my shoulder and wondered whether I could heal myself with music.
“I don’t suppose you can fix these?” I said, waving my red fingers in the air.
“Unfortunately, no,” she said. “Healing with music is… challenging. Even for me. And you need the right instrument.”
“Denzi showed me, with his flute.”
“So you know then. What he is?” she asked, pushing her glasses up higher on her nose.
“A satyr,” I nodded. “But I didn’t really understand the difference but them and fauns. Can you tell me more about the history?”
Professor Dobreva sighed and sat beside me.
“Fauns are nature deities. They play the syrinx – a wind instrument consisting of cane pipes of different lengths tied in a row or in a bundle held together by wax or cord, and generally closed at the bottom. Legend has it that the god Pan, the patron of shepherds, fell in love with the Nymph Syrinx, daughter of Ladon the river-god.”
“Fleeing his attentions, Syrinx pleaded with Zeus to save her and just when Pan captured her, Zeus turned the Nymph into reeds. Enraged, Pan smashed the reeds into pieces but on reflection he was struck with remorse and wept and kissed the broken reeds, all that remained of his beloved. As he kissed the reeds, he discovered that his breath could create sounds from them, and so he made the musical instrument that would carry the lost Nymph’s name.”
“The roman counterpart of Pan is “Faunus” – which became the name given to immortal followers of Pan. They believe in harmony and unity. They give up their personal selfish desires for a greater, universal purpose. They play music for the love, as a selfless gift to the world. They’re poets. You could say that Fauns are just the Roman translation of the Greek Satyrs, and they’re actually the same species, but there are other differences.”
“Satyrs follow Dionysus. They play the aulos, a double reeded instrument like a modern oboe. It’s long, phallic instrument that was used for martial music. The satyrs were Dionysus’s military brigade, using music as a weapon. They used music to subdue, to dominate, to conquer.”
“In myth, Marsyas the satyr was supposed to have invented the aulos, or else picked it up after Athena had thrown it away because it caused her cheeks to puff out and ruined her beauty. In any case, he challenged Apollo to a musical contest, where the winner would be able to “do whatever he wanted” to the loser—Marsyas’s expectation, typical of a satyr, was that this would be sexual in nature. But Apollo and his lyre beat Marsyas and his aulos. And since the pure lord of Delphi’s mind worked in different ways from Marsyas’s, he celebrated his victory by stringing his opponent up from a tree and flaying him alive.”
I shuddered at the image.
“I thought Apollo was the good guy?”
“It’s not that simple,” Paleva said. “Apollo represents rational thought and order, but without emotion he lacks sympathy and can be cold and brutal. Dionysus meanwhile is pure emotion, left unchecked it can also manifest as violence. The order of Orpheus was meant to keep the balance between them, unifying head and heart. Balancing the powers so that no one side can dominate the other.”
“And ultimately, both sides are weak without the other. Orpheus was at his most powerful after Eurydice died. Suffering, heartbreak. You must bleed into your strings, but not with your fingers, with your heart.”
“After what happened with Marsyas, Satyrs were the enemy of Apollo. When Denzi turned from Dionysus and became a follower of Apollo after Orpheus’ death, he turned his back on his own kind. They view him as a traitor.”
“You could say the difference between satyrs and fauns could is the difference in platonic and erotic love: one love prioritizes personal satisfaction over the beloved object. The other gives up selfish desire for the happiness of the other. You could also say that fauns are elevated satyrs, who have overcome their baser natures and learned wisdom and philosophy. They experience guilt and shame, regret and remorse. They prioritize the happiness of their beloved rather than simply the gratification of their own sexual desire. But you can also see fauns as simply childish innocents, and the satyrs are more adult, jaded and cynical.”
“So only fauns can heal, with their pipes? Because of the harmonious notes?” I asked, trying to understand.
“Not necessarily. Both use personal force and energy to create music from their wind instruments. Orpheus plays the lyre, a string instrument where music is made from vibration. It was so pure and beautiful, he was able to suspend the laws of physics and nature. It gave him total mastery of the universe. But it’s not really about the instrument. It’s about the player.”
I wondered then where Denzi’s abilities came from. Who had broken his heart?
I’m so excited about this new cover for Scarlet Thread! It’s my most popular book, so with a new cover and a tweaked summary I’m hoping to boost my downloads significantly.
I had meant to publish the 2nd half of this story in “book one” – but since part one is already 60,000 words, and since the full story I have mapped out would be around 130,000 words, I’ve decided to add three chapters to part one and just call it “book one” – it’ll be as long as most normal urban fantasy books, at about 75K, and will end on a cliffhanger, but not quite such a dramatic and annoying cliffhanger as it does currently.
With those changes, I’m going to take it off permafree and change it to 99cents, with book two continuing the story, and book three finishing it.
If you haven’t read it yet, get it HERE.
If you get it before I update it with the new chapters, I’ll try and get KDP to notify you of the updates; I’ll also add the extra chapters to this site.
In the meantime here’s a sneak peek – a never before seen chapter.
(It’s rough and still needs editing).
My name is Kaidance Monroe, and sometimes when I touch people, I see how they die.
At least that’s how this story began. But last night changed everything. A few days ago I saw Matt die. I saw the sword sticking out of his beastly chest, blood gurgling from his lips. The golden sword, glittering with blue jewels, the crown that symbolized Zeus’s kingdom shining like a beacon in the darkness. All of Zeus’s winged army had swords like that—hunters, created to rid the world of magic.
In the past, every time I had a vision of someone’s death, it came true.
But last night, when hunters broke in through the ceiling like bolts of lightning, it was my death they were after. So I couldn’t let them kill Matt. I couldn’t let him die for me. I was supposed to use the shotgun and sword Sitri gave me, but I couldn’t do it. Not when I saw Puriel. His tall, muscular body. His amber eyes and nearly white hair. The shimmering mirrored wings behind him. I couldn’t destroy something that beautiful. And I didn’t want any more deaths. I just wanted it to stop. So I offered myself to him. Let them take what they came for. In that moment, I was prepared to die.
Instead… Puriel burst into flames, and Matt lived.
Which means, my visions don’t have to come true. Which means, I might not be the monster everyone always thought I was.
But why did Puriel hesitate? Why not destroy me like Zeus ordered him to? He’d become a torch, cast off from Zeus’s favor. After serving obediently for thousands of years. How could that have happened? I was about to find out.
After the attack, Sitri had practically carried me back to my room and told me to stay put. The others started cleaning up the wreckage and removing the bodies. I was most worried about Matt and Priya, because I’d seen them get hurt, but I knew Alice would take care of them. I wondered how many others were injured. Sitri had posted four torches outside my door for my protection. Every time I stuck my head out to see what was going on they crossed their swords and blocked my path. I felt like I was under arrest.
I wanted to talk to Sitri or Able, I needed answers—and if I couldn’t have that, at the very least I wanted to help out and keep my hands busy. Being stuck in my room while everyone else was working was driving me crazy. I couldn’t stop thinking about Puriel. What had happened? Why had he caught on fire like that? Why didn’t he kill me when he had the chance? It was an hour before I realized I still had Able’s invisibility cap—I’d stuck it in my pocket after confronting Puriel.
I snuck through the bathroom into Sitri’s room and opened the door cautiously. With the cap on I stuck my head out to peek at the torches. The floorboard creaked when I took my first step out of the room and I froze, my heart racing. Two torches whipped their heads towards me, but after a moment faced forward again like marble statues.
Most of the mansion was empty, I thought there would be more damage but it seems the attack was focused only on the upstairs floors—as if they knew exactly where I would be. I heard voices and followed them to the second floor. Eligor was addressing a small group of torches.
“The threat was neutralized quickly—10 hunters drew attention away from the main building by starting skirmishes around the defensive barrier, just as four breached the top floor. Two lost their lives immediately, apparently they didn’t expect to find Stephanie there, or underestimated her power. The third was killed soon after—the fourth captured.”
“Is it true the fourth hunter fell?” someone asked. There were murmurs when Eligor nodded. He held a hand up and continued.
“As you know, hunters rarely fall, the circumstances must have been extreme. I don’t know what it means yet, nor should we be overly curious. We should also not assume, now fallen, he will join our ranks—the fate of the intruder will be decided by Able and the masters of Nevah, and we will accept their decision without question. For now, he’s being held in the dungeon until decisions are made. We should also not assume the threat is over. Zeus’s army did not get what they came for, this time. They will undoubtedly strike again soon with double the force. Be vigilant.”
Eligor gave instructions and the torches left to carry them out. He paused when we were alone and he looked at the place where I was standing. But then he left and I was alone.
I wandered lower and lower into the house until I found a room I hadn’t been in before. In the corner was a descending spiral staircase made of large rectangular slabs of stone. I followed it down into a sublevel of the complex, which looked practically medieval. It was mostly used for storage and seemed to have enough food and supplies stockpiled to last a hundred years. I shuddered as I passed a room full of hooks, chains and complex devices I hoped weren’t tools of torture. Finally I found a row of thick iron doors with tiny barred windows. I peeked through the rusted iron bars until I found Puriel.
I could barely see him in the dark. His pale, white body made him look like a ghost, surrounded by walls of solid concrete. Ash and soot stuck to his skin in dark patches, and he smelled like charcoal, singed hair and burnt feathers. I heard the grating noise of heavy chains being dragged across the stone floor and noticed that the dark cuffs around his neck and wrists were fixed to the wall.
I gasped when he looked up, his eyes were black sockets, gaping voids of desolation and heartbreak. The beautiful thing Puriel had been yesterday was gone, and this thing was ruin incarnate. His eyes sparked like glowing coals, as furious patches of bright orange burned in the darkness of the room. He moaned, straining against his restraints, his muscles tense as he reached towards the door. Towards me.
I choked back a sob at the thing he’d become.
Then I took the heavy skeleton key, turned the giant lock, and stepped inside.
“It’s you, isn’t it,” he said as the door creaked open. His eyes darted across the cell. I realized he still couldn’t see me. I stepped into the far corner of the room, out of his reach, and removed Able’s cap.
“Come to torment me further? Survey your handiwork?”
“I didn’t mean for this to happen to you. I had no idea this would happen, whatever this is… I was just trying to save my friend.”
“And that’s exactly why I fell. A cruel trick. A mean trick. But so what, it’s over now. I’m here, a prisoner without purpose, without hope, condemned forever to waste away in suffering and darkness.”
“Why were you after me? I’d never done anything to you. You chased me from JDRI. Then you followed me here,” I accused. “Why?”
“I don’t ask why. My Lord commands and I obey.”
“You mean Zeus?” I asked. Everything Able told me had been true.
““Zeus is his pagan name,” he spat. “We use his Latin name, Deus. The one true king,” he said. “Pure goodness and perfection. My maker and master. Whom I faithfully served since he gave me life, until today, when I failed him.”
“Failed him, by not killing me?”
Puriel nodded, then he sank his face in his hands.
“I hesitated, because I thought I saw goodness in you, and it made me doubt. Now I understand it was a trick. You are the worst kind of evil. The invisible kind. The kind that thinks they are good, but doesn’t know any better. You lie so perfectly I saw no trace of deceit or malice in you. Only innocence, kindness, courage—”
“Zeus is the evil one,” I said. “He slaughtered his own family. Able told me—”
“Able,” Puriel repeated with a sad smile, “has told you nothing but lies. Even the name he’s given himself, it sounds so ordinary. So innocuous. It hides the truth of what he really is.”
“And what is he?” I asked nervously.
“He has many names. Father of Lies. Prince of Darkness. Ruler of the Underworld. In French he’s called Le Diable.”
My knees trembled as the world resonated in the small space. I’d heard those titles before… but they didn’t make any sense here. Those were titles for the Devil in Christian mythology. What did that have to do with Greek legend and mythology? A felt a sinking in the pit of my stomach as I realized the truth. Maybe I’d already known it. Le Diable—Able. I’d dined with the devil and didn’t even know it. Suddenly, everything clicked into place. The hunters could fly and had wings. They served their almighty Lord with pure obedience.
“You’re an angel,” I said, breathlessly.
“Some humans call us that,” he said. “We prefer the term Seraphim. We burn with the inexhaustible energy of Deus, like mirrors reflecting his power and glory.” He looked down at his hands in wonder, turning them over slowly. “I was Seraphim. Now I am nothing. Cast out. Defective. Unworthy. A broken vessel. Yesterday I could have melted through these chains.”
I felt sorry for him, even though he had been trying to kill me. In a twisted way, he’d sacrificed himself to save me. Even if he hadn’t done it on purpose, and even if he was regretting it now, I still felt a twinge of responsibility. My head was spinning as I reached for the door handle.
“Deus does not explain himself to the Seraphim,” he said quietly as I was leaving, “nor do we try to understand his will. But I can share what he called you, the name he used when he gave the order. Deicidium. From Deus, meaning god and cidium, which means cutting. In English, it would translate as godkiller.”
Hope you liked it! If you have read Scarlet Thread please add a review.
Here’s a list of my favorite young adult books based on Greek Mythology.
Click the covers to see them on Amazon!
I’m running a giveaway so you can win some of these books, scroll down to enter!
Elementals, Michelle Madow
The Helicon of Muses, VJ Chambers
The Curse of the Sphinx, Raye Wagner
Percy Jackson, Rick Riordan
The Power, Jennifer L. Armentrout
Half Blood, Jennifer L. Armentrout
Dark Descendant, Jenna Black
Everneath, Brodi Ashton
Sweet Venom, Tera Lynn Childs
Starcrossed, Josephine Angelini
AntiGoddess, Kendare Blake
From Gods, Mary Ting and Maxine Bringenberg
The Gatekeeper’s Sons, Eva Pohler
The Shadow Prince, Bree Despain
The Goddess Test, Aimée Carter
Persephone, Kaitlin Bevis
The Trials of Apollo, Rick Riordan
Omega, Lizzy Ford
Pandora, Andrea Domanski
Goddess Legacy, M.W. Muse and Mandy Harbin
The Scarlet Thread, D.S. Murphy
This one is mine! And I only have part one up; it’s a mashup of fallen angels and forgotten gods, kind of Percy Jackson meets Fallen.
Click here to get it.
Or see it on Goodreads.
Orpheum, D.S. Murphy
Orpheum is mine too – it’s based on Orpheus and Eurydice; an amazing tragic romance basis that is much less used than the more popular Persephone and Hades.
Click here to get it.
Or see it on Goodreads.
Best YA mythology books on Goodreads
Here are some lists of mythology books for teens on Goodreads; if you like any of the books above, please add them to a list or vote for them!
Best books about Mythology
Oh my Gods and Goddesses
YA mythology series
Best of the YA Greek Mythology Books
Books with Greek mythology references
Don’t forget to review!
If you like any of these books, don’t forget to review them! Authors work really hard on their books, and we love feedback – even a few simple sentences would be amazing.
Best Greek Myth Books