Songs of Seraphina
By Jude Houghton
Genre: YA Fantasy
Release Date: June 30th 2015
Tenebris Books, Grimbold Books
Summary from Goodreads:
Some battles bleed so much, and for so long, that the earth never truly forgets their dead. Some battles are born of oppression, and some of greed, and some simply because it was written in the stars.
Three sisters—Charlemagne, Cairo and Pendragon Agonistes—are sent from America to England to live with their eccentric grandparents after their mother disappears and their father falls to pieces. But before the girls have time to find their feet, Charlemagne is married off to a dead man, Penny takes a nap and wakes up as a boy, and Cairo is swept into a dangerous romance with a man who wants her for more than her considerable charm. With the girls wrapped up in a conflict they barely understand, they don’t notice that their grandmother is transforming, or that the two demigod assassins who took their mother are now coming for them—if one of them can get over his crisis of conscience.
In this richly painted tale, at whose heart is the unbreakable bond of family and blood, the world of Seraphina collides with our own as three unique girls are dragged into twilight lives past, fighting for vengeance, retribution, and the survival of their exiled people.
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An Excerpt from Songs of Serpaphina, Sammy’s POV
She ran through the outcrops of forest and brush, through the smallholdings where the trees had been cleared for Calliope farmlands, then on to the border of the wetlands. Here she began to slow. The marshy terrain was treacherous, breaking into pockets of continuous water three or four feet deep. There were well-worn pathways criss-crossing the wetlands. The area was often tapped for irrigation, but in the middle there was a giant causeway of rocks, scrub and caves that created a dry island in the otherwise sodden terrain.
The Stony Marsh almost looked man-made, but it was too vast and had been a feature of the terrain since the Gildas first came to these lands. Song was taught that they were formed by volcanic eruption, but when she actually saw the Marsh, she couldn’t help thinking there was something else at work, a wiser power. The rocks looked sculpted, so smoothly were they hewn, and hidden caves stood like witnesses of some ancient civilization.
As Song trekked along the path, she kept away from the trees. Though this meant occasionally stepping into the water, sometimes up to a foot high, it was safer. The trees of this part of the marsh had snakes in them; the black death serpents hung in tight nests and spiralled down onto their prey. One drop, one bite, one death. They were so sensitive to light and temperature, they existed across just one degree of latitude, but on that latitude they were as plentiful as they were deadly.
The water was at its highest just before the Stony Marsh, and the trails narrowed and became increasingly uneven, limiting her movements. This was where the traps would be. Song wondered what form they would take. Nets triggered by the brush of a tine? Holes harbouring poisonous arachnids? She imagined both would appeal to the Acrapheans.
She looked for silver threads and disturbances in the earth, but saw nothing. Suddenly she became conscious of a strange flapping noise above her head; strange because egrets and other birds tended to be near the ground. Looking up she saw a large piece of parchment tied between two cypress, and next to it another, and then another.
In the still night air they made an eerie susurrus. She stared at them for a moment, trying to see what they were supposed to do or how the trap worked. It made no sense. Craning upwards she moved cautiously forward. Her toe snagged on a mannequin hair, very fine but too strong to snap outright with her weight. In the same instant an arrow, released from a tree to her left, buried deep into her shoulder. She stumbled, looking at it with incredulity. The blood came thick and fast.
How could she have been so stupid?
She felt something spread through her arm—the cloudy progression of poison.
About the Author
Jude developed a love of fantasy from a relatively early age after realizing an innate talent for making stuff up could result in something other than detention. Working across the globe in fields as diverse as journalism, data entry, sales, management consultancy and babysitting, Jude has partially succeeded in putting an English and History degree from Oxford University to good use. A somnambulist, insomniac, lover of letters, Jude writes late into the night, most nights, tumbling down the rabbit hole to dream of other lives. Jude currently lives in Pennsylvania with an over-enthusiastic family and absurdly entitled dog.
Songs of Seraphina Guest Post By Jude
Angels in literature, discuss.
Central to Songs of Seraphina are the two immortal characters, Hamquist and Crakes. Without giving too much away, they do the bidding of a divine power and are sent to Earth to intervene with the refuges from Seraphina who are living there. They are sometimes profound, sometimes comic, but always compelling in how they see the world. In this extract Hamquist and Crakes are living in a semi-detached house, waiting for their next assignment. Crakes is staring at the wall, and wondering what they are even doing there.
As he stared at the plaster he noticed how dirty it was, how the paint peeled and how the fungus covered extensive patches. It was rank. He could actually see the mould moving and breathing, could feel its existence. He clicked his tongue in disgust. He had never even seen the stuff before coming to this world, to this hole. The mould irritated him. Only yesterday they had been in a golden age of chariots and worship, meting out divine justice to all. Perhaps it wasn’t actually yesterday, but metaphorically yesterday. He couldn’t tell exactly when yesterday was. When you existed forever, time was difficult to judge. There were events that punctuated existence, of course—memorable events like great wars that transcended the day-to-day of mopping up after one god or another—but there had never been anything like this; they were displaced, enslaved, caught up in a mania over which they had no control.
… Hamquist began to fall apart. First he could not sit still, but was up and agitated the whole time, flicking things, pinching things, stroking things, poking things. One day he spent nine hours chopping vegetables into smaller and smaller pieces with his sword. They were practically gluons by the time he had finished. How Crakes got through that period without going crazy himself, he didn’t know. Then, just as it couldn’t get any worse, something unexpected happened: a boon in the night, as unanticipated as it was peculiar.
Their influences in literature are myriad, but the top two:
Milton’s greatest angel in Paradise Lost, Satan. It’s been said many times, but the most attractive character in the novel is not Adam or Eve or God or the host of Seraphim, but Mr Mad, Bad and Dangerous to know himself, the fallen Angel, Satan. It is Satan that says, “The mind is its own place, and in itself can make a heaven of hell, and a hell of heaven.” In a book that was supposed to force us to contemplate the fall of man, and runaway strong character steals the show entirely. He relates far more to man than god or his lofty lieutenants. When Adam leaves hell, the Angel Michael tells him that by making his own choices, “He shalt possess…A paradise within thee, by happier far,” echoing what Satan already knew.
Then there is Neil Gaiman’s portrayal of Remiel and Duma, unwilling angels who are given the keys to hell, to look after that domain once Lucifer walks out. What? I hear you say, you are now talking about the Sandman and Season of Mists one paragraph after Milton. Yep. Gaiman is a genius and Season of Mists the pinnacle of his DC achievements. Anyway, love them both, two confused deities wondering what they did to get this assignment.
G I V E A W A Y
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