Mythology Meld

Would you read a Gothic book in which sorcerer children are paired with Egyptian gods who have been banished to a Dante-like Abyss by King Solomon, who in turn is served by djinn and efrits directly from the pages of the Arabian nights and the Biblical stories of Islam? Or would you just say what the hell?

True confession: This is the book series I’m currently working on. You may ask why I’ve decided to go with so many sources in the piece. Well, I’m glad you asked that hypothetical question. Let’s rock and roll.

When I started these books, the Klaereons were originally partnered with demons who were trying to redeem themselves. Other parts of the book were just there, like Balthazar, the efrit, servant of the fallen angel Lailah, mistress of night. As I started poking around in the stories about fallen angels, I discovered the conception of angels in Islam is different than in Christianity. In Islam, angels must obey God, unlike humans, djinn and efrits. I also discovered the sorcerous King Solomon enslaved the djinn and the efrits. There are important differences in the story of Satan. In Christianity, Satan is a rebellious angel. In Islam, Shaitain is djinn, capable of disobeying god.

Two doors opened for me. First of all, Solomon was not beyond using magic for his own purposes, and perhaps in the service of his religion. Solomon lived in the ancient world where other pantheons were being worshipped. If Solomon and djinn are real, so are these other gods. What if Solomon encountered the Egyptian gods and found them to be a threat to his god and religion, or to humanity itself?

If you’ve read Egyptian mythology, you know about Sekhmet’s bloody destruction of humanity. She wasn’t called the drinker of blood for nothing. There is the usual amount of pantheon unpredictability, capricious, and arrogance among the Egyptian gods. Imagine Solomon meets these gods, and sees them as a threat to humanity, and unworthy of worship. Imagine that he paints them with the same brush as he does djinn and efrits, and he banishes them. Imagine he puts them in the same place his god put the rebel Shaitain, in hell.

But also imagine the other part of this story. Solomon isn’t a total jerk. He frees the djinn after 100 years of service. Solomon gives the Egyptian gods a chance at redemption. He makes them the servants of a family that proves itself worthy, and the gods must choose to subjugate themselves willingly to their human counterpart, or they return to hell. Strangely enough, Solomon thinks he’s making the Egyptian gods better, one god at a time. By learning the lesson humility, they earn their freedom.

Well. That accounts for three of the pieces of this story. What about the fallen angel? The mother of Egyptian gods is Nuit, a goddess of the night. Lailah is the Islamic angel of the night. My theory is that families transcend pantheons, and that all the night deities, often the beginning patriarchs and matriarchs of pantheons, are connected. Lailah banishes herself from heaven to share her sister’s fate. Nuit blames Lailah for not protecting her children. One sister loathes herself but cannot disobey her god. The other sister holds a grudge. And yes, this too must be resolved in the course of the series.

So, can I pull it off, this Gothic novel with Egyptian gods trying to redeem themselves because of an Islamic magician? I’m giving it my best shot.

Author: Catherine Schaff-Stump

Catherine Schaff-Stump writes fiction for children and young adults. Her most recent book, The Vessel of Ra, is the first book in the Klaereon Scroll series. She is currently working on its sequel, as well as penning the middle grade adventures of Abigail Rath, monster hunter.