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Guest Post - Catherine Cavendish

Hi, all! This week we've got another guest post for you, from the highly talented writer Catherine Cavendish, who's going to be talking horror, ancient Greece, harpies, and her latest novella, Dark Avenging Angel.


Harpies – The Bird Women of Ancient Greece

 

My latest novella – Dark Avenging Angel – is, as its title suggests, concerned with revenge. In this case, revenge of the most demonic kind. We’ve all heard the old adage, “Be careful what you wish for…” Jane learns the truth of this in graphic ways.

 

Avenging angels and demons abound in the traditions and folklore of people all over the world. One such creature is the Harpy. In Greek and Roman mythology, there were originally two - but later three - of these monstrous creatures, who were sisters and seem to have originally been wind spirits. They appeared in the form of birds with human faces and their role was one of punishment for crimes committed. They stole food while their victims were eating and they also carried evildoers who had murdered someone in their family to the Erinyes (or Furies) for punishment. The name ‘harpy’ literally means ‘snatcher’.

In the earliest literature to mention them, they were depicted as beautiful, enticing women with lovely hair, but in later works, their appearance is described as grotesque and ugly. They were cruel, violent and murderous – seeking vengeance at every opportunity.

 
One famous story concerning the harpies involves King Phineas of Thrace. He was given the gift of prophecy by Zeus, but then proceeded to betray the god by revealing his secrets. Zeus punished him by blinding him and banishing him to an island with a sumptuous buffet of food which he couldn’t eat because the harpies always got there first. They would steal the food out of his hands and befoul whatever remained.

Phineas’s torture only ended with the arrival of Jason and the Argonauts, when the harpies were driven off by the two Boreads. The harpies were uninjured but did not trouble Phineus again. They lived on the Strofades islands of Greece, which they had wrested from the Trojans, and were evidently still in residence in the Middle Ages, as they are mentioned by Dante in his Inferno, X111:

 

“Here the repellent harpies make their nests,

Who drove the Trojans from the Strophades
With dire announcements of the coming woe.
They have broad wings, with razor sharp talons and a human neck and face,

Clawed feet and swollen, feathered bellies; they caw
Their lamentations in the eerie trees”


Now, to give you a taste of Dark Avenging Angel, here’s the blurb:

 

Don’t hurt Jane. You may live to regret it.

 

Bullied by her abusive father, Jane always felt different. Then the lonely child found a friend in a mysterious dark lady who offers her protection—a lady she calls her “angel”. But that protection carries a terrible price, one to be paid with the souls of those Jane chooses to suffer a hideous and eternal fate.

 

When Jane refuses to name another victim, the angel reveals her most terrifying side. Payment must be made in full—one way or the other.

 

And here’s a brief extract:

 

Something had woken me from a deep sleep troubled by my recurring nightmare in which I was in a wood, being chased by some unimaginable horror. I never saw its face, assuming it even had one. But I knew if I didn’t find sanctuary, it would kill me. I had just made it into the strange little house that always appeared in the clearing, when my eyes opened and I gasped at the white, smiling face looking down at me.

 

That night, my angel seemed different somehow.

 

Oh, she looked the same. Same black cloak, but this time it shimmered and I wanted to touch it. I was sure it would feel soft as velvet under my fingers.

 

She put her finger to her lips and stroked my hair. Her touch was like a gentle breeze in summertime. My eyes wanted to close, but I forced them to stay open.

 

I knew I mustn’t speak out loud, but I could still whisper. “I wish I knew your name. Who are you? Please will you tell me?”

 

She continued to smile. Her lips moved, but the answering voice I heard was again in my head.

 

Do not be afraid, child. It is not yet time, but soon you will have the power to avenge yourself on those who have done you harm. Look for me in the shadows and I will be there, taking account.

 

I understood nothing of what she said. But, from somewhere, a calm I had never felt before emerged and wrapped itself around me.

 

I blinked in the darkness as she faded from sight.

 

Then I closed my eyes and slept. I never had that nightmare again after that night. But what if I’d known what was ahead for me?

 

Some things are better off left in the dark.

 

You can find Dark Avenging Angel here:

 





 

 

 
About the author:

Following a varied career in sales, advertising and career guidance, Cat is now the full time author of a number of paranormal, ghostly and Gothic horror novels, novellas and short stories. She was the 2013 joint winner of the Samhain Gothic Horror Anthology Competition, with Linden Manor, which features in the anthology What Waits in the Shadows.  Her novels, The Pendle Curse and Saving Grace Devine are also published by Samhain. Her latest novella – Dark Avenging Angel – will be followed by her next novel – The Devil’s Serenade – in April 2016

 

You can connect with Cat here:

 






 

 

 

 

 

 

Comments

  1. Thank you so much for hosting me today, JG!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Was really looking forward to this post and you certainly did not disappoint! I will be sorry when the tour ends. You just better get that next book out there is all I can say x

    ReplyDelete

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