‘Rheia’ book signing at BOOK FACE Gungahlin

A quick one for my Canberra (and region) readers: on the afternoon of 20th October, a Gungahlin Community Festival will be held in Canberra to celebrate the conclusion of key projects in the town centre. The festival will offer plenty of food, activities and entertainment for the whole family to enjoy.

As part of this event, BOOK FACE Gungahlin will be hosting various author signings, including one with yours truly to celebrate the release of Rheia. Come along, get your face painted (probably) and grab yourself a signed copy of my book — and any of my other books that you happen to be missing! I’ll be there from 1 to 2pm with my special book-signing pen and a smile.

I’d love to see you … but if you can’t make it, you can buy the ebook or paperback online, or contact me directly to organise a signed copy of your very own.

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‘Rheia’ release day

“Rheia by Aussie author Cassandra Page is a stunning, breath taking and tissue-inducing fantasy/steampunk/young adult novel which was unputdownable! Absolutely brilliant in my opinion. Filled with tension, the characters were extremely well crafted. The plot was exceptionally well done, flowing smoothly and well written. I thoroughly enjoyed Rheia and highly recommend it.”Brenda, five star Goodreads review

Rheia is the sixth full-length novel I’ve released into the world, and you’d think that I’d get used to that release day squirmy feeling that is both nerves and excitement (nervicitement — thanks, Pinkie Pie). I’m not, though, partly because Rheia is new ground for me as a writer: fantasy rather than the urban fantasy stories I’ve told so far.

We aren’t meant to have favourite children but, maybe because it’s so different, Rhiea is the book I’m the most proud of to date. (Don’t tell the others.) It has bronze-age tech, scheming demons and a sweet romance. It badgered me for years — years — before I finally wrote it, and now it gets to make its way in the world.

I’ll be over here, waving goodbye with a smile and a tear.

The obligatory thank you speech

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again — writing a book is a curiously collaborative process for something that is, on the face of it, a solo endeavour. And there are a lot of people without whom Rheia (whose working title was Greek Fantasy, because I shouldn’t be allowed to name things) wouldn’t be what it is today.

Firstly, thank you to my beta readers: Stacey Nash, for helping me fill the plot holes and for fact-checking my Ancient Greek culture references (although, as always, any mistakes are my own); Peter Wass, for making sure the bad guys were sufficiently evil for his tastes; and Craig Lawrie, for coming up with the new book title and doing the sanity check at the end. I raise my coffee cup to you all.

As always, a mega-huge thanks to Lauren Clarke. She has edited most of my books and keeps me on the straight and narrow with regard not just to plot and the accursed POV intrusion (seriously, I hate those comment bubbles!) but to ellipses, hyphens, dialogue tags, and the other tiny building blocks of writing that, if done correctly, become almost invisible to the reader. You are worth your weight in gold, lady. And to Kim of KILA Designs, thanks yet again for another beautiful cover. I don’t know how you do it, my clever friend!

Thank you to my family and friends for putting up with my frequent absences, for letting me rant over Messenger, and for cheering most enthusiastically: Mum, Dad, Kristy, Craig, Karen, Ali, Cassandra, and the BC09 girls. And thanks to Tim and Jacinta, whose roleplaying game all those years ago provided the kernel of inspiration for Rheia and Alexandros’s story. (It’s your fault that there are so many stairs!)

And finally, as always, all my love and gratitude go to my son, Nathaniel. You are growing into a bright, articulate and hilarious young man. I’m more proud of you than of anything else I’ve ever achieved.

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The obligatory buy links

Ebook

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon Australia | Barnes & Noble
iBooks | Kobo | Smashwords

Paperback

Barnes & Noble | The Book Depository
Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon AU

Note: As this post is going live in the morning Australian time, some of the links won’t switch from preorder to buy for up to twelve hours. Don’t let that stop you! 😉

The obligatory blurb and cover photo

“Beauty and the Beast” meets Ancient Greece, with a steampunk twist

Every year, Rheia’s father brought home four prisoners of war, sacrifices to keep the demon Typhein bound. Rheia never gave them much thought … until her father’s enemy made her one of them. Now she has two weeks to find a way to escape death at the hands of the Beast and either save her people or condemn them to destruction.

The last thing Rheia expected was to fall in love with the Beast oath-bound to kill her.

Add on Goodreads


A couple of book-release-related announcements: ‘Shadows and Spellcraft’ and ‘Rheia’

Shadows and Spellcraft giveaway announcement

As you’ll have no doubt have guessed by now, given all the posts on my blog lately, the Shadows and Spellcraft book bundle (which contains, among other things, Isla’s Inheritance), comes out on 30 October. Pre-orders are only $0.99 (US), which is such an awesome bargain that I’ve already pre-ordered my own copy for the books in there that I haven’t read — there are fifteen books total.

One of the authors in the bundle, Laura Greenwood, is giving away a Kindle Fire stuffed with ebooks (including another of mine, because yay!) to celebrate the release of the bundle. You can find the giveaway here. Check it out!

Rheia Pinterest page

As I do with all my books, as I was drafting Rheia I kept a Pinterest page for the book. Now that we’re getting closer to the release day, I’ve made the page public so that those of you who want to get a taste for the aesthetic of the book can do so. The link to the page is here. It’s no Kindle Fire, but I hope you enjoy anyway!

(Note that the usual caveats apply: I don’t own any of the art in the lefthand screenshot above.)

 


‘Rheia’ excerpt and pre-order links

Rheia preorders are now live. To whet your appetite, I’ve included a second excerpt from the book. Like all excerpts, it’s a teeny bit spoiler-y — but I chose this one because, if you’ve read the blurb, the events revealed below won’t be a surprise. For those that prefer to stay spoiler-free, I’ve put the preorder links first. 😉

Blurb

Beauty and the Beast” meets Ancient Greece, with a steampunk twist

Every year, Rheia’s father brought home four prisoners of war, sacrifices to keep the demon Typhein bound. Rheia never gave them much thought … until her father’s enemy made her one of them. Now she has two weeks to find a way to escape death at the hands of the Beast and either save her people or condemn them to destruction.

The last thing Rheia expected was to fall in love with the Beast oath-bound to kill her.

Add to Goodreads

Release: 13 October 2018

Preorder links

Ebook

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon Australia | Barnes & Noble
iBooks | Kobo | Smashwords

Rheia — an excerpt

(Note: This excerpt is set after the one I posted last month. I’d suggest reading that one first, if you haven’t already.)

The sound of footsteps on the road outside their home carried clearly in the quiet night air, as did the creak of the door as her father let himself into the villa. The soft voice of Rheia’s mother greeted him. He replied with a murmur. The bar thunked into its bracket, securing the door, and then footsteps ascended the stairs as they crept up to their own bedroom. It was next to Rheia’s, with Aias’s on the other side, closest to the stairs. Although they drew a heavy cloth across their door, she still caught snatches of their conversation over the sounds of her father removing his sandals and dropping them in the corner.

The word lottery caught her ear and, before she could question the wisdom of it, she rolled out of bed and padded to her door on bare feet, pulling her own hanging cloth aside so she could better hear what they were saying.

“I told them that,” Loukios was saying in a tired voice. “I could’ve had my crew ready and at the dock with the tide at dawn. But the priests argued against it and the king listened to them, not me.”

“What reason did they give?” Antheia’s voice was tight.

“They said it would mean renewed war with the helots, who would claim they had already given the required number of thysies this year. If we Oreareans are too careless to keep them alive, that is our problem.” His words were bitter.

“For followers of the god of war, the priests have taken a remarkably cowardly position,” Antheia said acerbically. Rheia covered her mouth to muffle her gasp. She had never heard her mother speak ill of a priest before.

Loukios grunted an agreement, before adding reluctantly, “But they are right. And more citizens would die in a new war than would die in this single lottery.”

“Why then could the king not buy a young slave girl, provide the thysia himself?”

There was a long pause. When Rheia’s father spoke, his voice was low, reluctant. “Honestly? I think the temple sees this as an opportunity. A lottery would remind the city of the god’s power—of the temple’s power. And it would silence dissent about the need for continued subjugation of the helots.”

“But … a lottery? They were awful. I never wanted our children subjected to that.” Antheia’s voice sounded hoarse, as though she spoke around tears. “When will it be?”

“Tomorrow. They don’t want to give people a chance to hide their daughters, or to marry them off.” Rheia’s heart leapt into her throat at the word. Daughters. Of course they’d need a girl to replace a girl. As Charis had said, the god liked balance. But hearing her father say it in such tones of distress drove the reality home.

Across from her, on the other side of her parents’ doorway, Aias’s startled gaze stared back at her from a crack in the fabric at his own bedroom door.

“Loukios, should we…?”

“We can’t. Draconaidas is already looking for an excuse to call for my exile. We must be above reproach.”

Draconaidas was Areus’s high priest. Rheia bit her lip, wondering briefly what her father had done to earn his displeasure, but her thoughts skittered away from the question like a fish on a line, drawn back to the bigger issue. A lottery.

“But Rheia—” Antheia said.

“—will be fine. There will be hundreds of names in the lottery. Thousands, even.” Loukios’s voice was soothing.

Rheia’s fingers fluttered to her forehead as she remembered the kiss of benediction in her dreams, and her nightmare the night before. The kiss from Eidoneus, God of the Underworld. Even as the recollection surfaced, she saw his face in her mind’s eye, watching her with kind eyes and a sad smile. The conviction that hers would be the ostra drawn tomorrow crept over her. With tears burning her eyes, she looked at her younger brother. His expression was stricken; he stared at her as though she were already dead.

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‘Rheia’ — an excerpt (and a revised release date)

In case you missed it, my ancient world fantasy novel, Rheia, comes out later in 2018. I had announced the release date as 29 September, but — as it happens — an anthology in which I have a story is having its launch party that exact same day. That being the case, I’ve decided to push Rheia’s release date back two weeks, to Saturday 13 October. Apologies to anyone that is disappointed about this, but I wasn’t really keen on trying to wrangle two book birthdays at once!

Now, onto the excerpt. 🙂 The world in which the kingdom of Oreareus exists is inspired by Ancient Greece, and a lot of the terms I use throughout the story come from that time in history. Hopefully the meaning of the various terms in the excerpt I’ve included here are clear from the context. However, just in case, I’ve included the relevant definitions from the glossary (I wrote a book with a glossary, you guys — I always wanted to do that!). You can find them at the bottom of this post.


Every year, Rheia’s father brought home four prisoners of war, sacrifices to keep the demon Typhein bound. Rheia never gave them much thought … until her father’s enemy made her one of them. Now she has two weeks to find a way to escape death at the hands of the Beast and either save her people or condemn them to destruction.

The last thing Rheia expected was to fall in love with the Beast oath-bound to kill her.

Add to Goodreads


Rheia — an excerpt

Rheia waited, fidgeting, until the herbalist finished tying off the bundle of fennel and counting out her change. Then she tucked the herbs into her basket and followed her brother, head down so as not to attract attention: an unwed, unaccompanied woman. She would kill Aias if his running off resulted in any slight against her name. She swallowed and adjusted her veil, making sure her hair was completely covered.

She found Aias standing in the deep shadows beneath the statue. He couldn’t see into the temple from there, wedged as he was between one huge sandalled foot and an outer pillar, adjacent to the shadowed porch, but his head was cocked as he listened, eyes wide as wine cups. “You just wait until I tell Mammidon about this,” she hissed.

“Shh,” Aias whispered, raking her with a contemptuous gaze. “I’m listening.”

“And if the priests see you out here, lurking like a thief, what will they say?” She grabbed his arm and tried to pull him away, but he eeled from her grip and stepped closer to the entrance. If she tried to grab him again, he might stumble backward, out into the bright sunshine where he would be much more obvious. Grinding her jaw with frustration, she glared at him.

He glared back, head tilted upward to meet her gaze. “Rheia, something is going on. They are stirred up like an ants’ nest. Don’t you want to know why?”

“No,” she whispered, shaking her head emphatically. And she didn’t. She wanted to browse the trinkets at Phidias’s stall, see if he knew her name, see whether Galen was lurking out the back somewhere and might come over to see her.

But she couldn’t do so without Aias. “All right,” she said with a sigh, crossing her arms and looking away towards the harbour as though she was merely taking a moment to shade herself from the hot sun. “One minute.”

Resolved not to listen to the voices inside the great building, Rheia studied the mason’s mark hidden at the statue’s heel as though it were the most interesting thing in the world. She had heard of Myron, even though he’d died when her grandmother was a baby; the huge statue had been his last great work. But a babble of raised voices as they passed close by the inside doorway caught her ear: the words thysia and offering louder than the rest, as the speaker emphasised a point. They fell away, and she wondered what had happened to cause such consternation. Had the helot girl tried to escape again? Had she been successful this time? There would be a city-wide manhunt to find her if it were true. A surge of sympathy for the girl made her purse her lips. How awful it would be, to know you would be dead when next the moon was full.

Aias’s fingers digging into Rheia’s arm brought her back to herself. “Rheia,” he whispered, the sound sharp with fear. “Let’s go.”

“Finally,” she muttered, glancing up and down the street for watching eyes before hurrying him away from the temple, her hand at the small of his back so he couldn’t dart off again. But when she tried to stop at the goatherder’s stall to buy a pottery jar of milk, he dragged her on, out of the agora. “Aias, stop! Wait!”

“You heard what they said.” He shook his head, curls bouncing emphatically as he hauled her along the street, almost at a run. “We have to get home. Father will know more.”

Rheia’s heart felt strange in her chest, anxiety making it flutter. “More about what? I was trying not to listen. As you should have been.”

Her little brother stopped, staring up at her with his mouth ajar. Then he pulled her by the hand into a quiet alley, away from the bustling traffic of the main street. “One of the helots is dead,” he whispered, eyes glittering with excitement. “One of the girls. Suicide, they say.”

Rheia’s eyes widened as she stared at her brother. The flutter in her chest expanded to swallow her belly. “But what will happen now? It’s only two weeks until the festival. The offering!”

“That’s what they were arguing about. One of the priests thought the triremes would be sent back out, while the other said it was too late. Father will know; if the ships are to be sent, he will captain the fleet. Come on. Before he leaves!”

Rheia let Aias drag her up the hill towards their villa, her mind whirling with the implications. The Broken Ones were meant to have the thysies for a full ten days before the ritual. Something about cleansing rituals. But that would only give the triremes three days to get to the helot lands and back again. Would it be enough?

And if not, what was the alternative?


A mini-glossary

agora – a combination of a marketplace and a central point where citizens can meet and discuss important issues

helot – slave; used to describe the subdued peoples across the sea

mammidon – a term of endearment meaning mother

thysia (plural thysies) – a sacrifice or offering


Book announcement and cover reveal: ‘Rheia’

Once upon a time, in between writing my various urban fantasy projects, I slipped and fell and wrote a fantasy novel. This was back in the days of yore (well, 2016), in between writing Lucid Dreaming and False Awakening, and I didn’t want to release this book in between the two halves of that duology.

It is now that book’s time to shine.

After going through several working titles (the highlight of which was the utilitarian Greek Fantasy, because I can’t be trusted to name things), I finally settled on the perfect name for this book — and now I can share it with you, along with the perfect cover, done by the fabulous Kim from KILA Designs.


Rheia

Release date: 29 September 2018

“Beauty and the Beast meets Ancient Greece, with a steampunk twist”

Every year, Rheia’s father brought home four prisoners of war, sacrifices to keep the demon Typhein bound. Rheia never gave them much thought … until her father’s enemy made her one of them. Now she has two weeks to find a way to escape death at the hands of the Beast and either save her people or condemn them to destruction.

The last thing Rheia expected was to fall in love with the Beast oath-bound to kill her.

Add on Goodreads