I have been sitting on a secret for a few weeks now and I’ve been itching to share it with you. Well, guess what. Today’s the day to share not only the gorgeous cover for Gail Strickland’s, NIGHT OF PAN, but also a wicked, kick-butt excerpt from the novel.
What do you guys think about the cover, huh? Isn’t it gorgeous?!?!
Night of Pan
by Gail Strickland
Genre: young-adult, historical-fantasy
Publisher: Curiosity Quills Press
Date of Release: November 7, 2014
Series: Book One of The Oracle of Delphi Trilogy
Cover Artist: Ricky Gunawan
The slaughter of the Spartan Three Hundred at Thermopylae, Greece 480 BCE—when King Leonidas tried to stop the Persian army with only his elite guard—is well known. But just what did King Xerxes do after he defeated the Greeks?
Fifteen-year-old Thaleia is haunted by visions: roofs dripping blood, Athens burning. She tries to convince her best friend and all the villagers that she’s not crazy. The gods do speak to her.
And the gods have plans for this girl.
When Xerxes’ army of a million Persians marches straight to the mountain village Delphi to claim the Temple of Apollo’s treasures and sacred power, Thaleia’s gift may be her people’s last line of defense.
Her destiny may be to save Greece…
…but is one girl strong enough to stop an entire army?
Are you enticed yet? Are you ready to read an excerpt? Here you go. Enjoy.
Five low, melting notes call. Soft and warm like candle wax. I glance at Sophia. Barely able to breathe, I squeeze her hand. We step together into a meadow bathed in sunshine. The storm is behind us as if the soggy pines form a barrier. We follow the music’s sweetness into the heart of the glade that is suddenly silent.
What is this place? Fear spikes up my back.
The wind picks up again, blows hot and violent, tangles my hair across my eyes and mouth. The flute music fades, and still I strain to find it mingled with the storm-winds—amber and rust like a painter’s brushstroke across barren clay that paints a memory at my mind’s edge. Just out of reach.
I’ve seen these colored winds before. But when? Where?
I reach out as if I can caress the beautiful colors, but they sink back into the poppies and grasses. The storm comes and goes. Black, menacing clouds race overhead followed by brilliant blue skies. My scalp tingles. I wrap my arm around Sophia’s shoulder and pull her close beside me. A god is playing with us. I know it. And there’s another thing I know—my fate will unfold in this meadow.
Another low note sighs from the needles of a massive pine at the far end of the clearing. A sudden wind whips the grasses like the sea—shiny, leaden and shiny again. Tree tops bend low, dancing a frantic circle dance around us.
Out of the corner of my eye, I catch a movement, a stirring in the old pine’s shadow. The tree trunk is thick, gnarled, its few high branches twisted.
“What’s that? Did you see something? Thaleia, come on!” Sophia screams and grabs my elbow, pulling me back from the tree.
There’s a smell of wet stone and something else—herbs and wild garlic, rain-soaked wool—the smell is overwhelming. Panic seizes me. Courses up my spine like a jolt of lightning.
Sophia takes two steps backwards away from me. Low, rumbling notes shiver the needles. I reach out to call her to me, but she backs another step away then bolts from the clearing.
“Sophia wait,” I whisper. And though I desperately want to turn and run away with Sophia, one low flute note filled with desire holds me.
The music changes to piercing, high shrills.
I turn back to face the pine. Take a slow step closer and stare at the shadowed rocks beside the tree, until my eyes water with the strain.
One cautious step after another, I walk to within an arm’s length of the old monarch. Its roots wrap around a smooth, limestone boulder like a squid clinging to the seafloor.
The shadow thickens to movement… slow, almost imperceptible.
Is that an arm? Sunlight plays across taut muscles. The arm lifts reed pipes then disappears behind the tree trunk.
I try to peer into the black shadows. My ears roar with the heightened sounds: weeds rub against one another; a lizard slips between dead leaves; two branches beat against the trunk of the pine, a drumbeat to the wandering melody of the flute.
The music compels me to take a step closer. And another.
About the Author
While studying the Classics in college, Gail Strickland translated much of Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey, as well as some of Herodotus’ prophecies. Living on the Greek islands after college, she discovered her love of myth, the wine-dark sea and retsina. The Baltimore Review and Writer’s Digest have recognized Gail’s fiction. She published stories and poems in Travelers’ Tales’ anthologies and the San Francisco Writer’s anthology. Her poetry and photography were published in a collection called Clutter. Her debut novel, Night of Pan, first book of a young adult trilogy about the Oracle of Delphi, will be published by Curiosity Quills Press November, 2014. Born in Brooklyn, New York, Gail grew up in Northern California. She raised her children; was a musical director for CAT children’s theater; taught music in schools; mentored young poets and novelists and introduced thousands of youngsters to piano and Greek mythology. Gail is passionate about bringing the richness of Homer’s language and culture to today’s youth.
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