When recently-deceased Irene Dunphy decided to “follow the light,” she thought she’d end up in Heaven or Hell and her journey would be over.
Boy, was she wrong.
She soon finds that “the other side” isn’t a final destination but a kind of purgatory where billions of spirits are stuck, with no way to move forward or back. Even worse, deranged phantoms known as “Hungry Ghosts” stalk the dead, intent on destroying them. The only way out is for Irene to forget her life on earth—including the boy who risked everything to help her cross over—which she’s not about to do.
As Irene desperately searches for an alternative, help unexpectedly comes in the unlikeliest of forms: a twelfth-century Spanish knight and a nineteenth-century American cowboy. Even more surprising, one offers a chance for redemption; the other, love. Unfortunately, she won’t be able to have either if she can’t find a way to escape the hellish limbo where they’re all trapped.
~ Bewitching BT
Top Ten Easter Eggs Hidden in Thereafter
by Terri Bruce
I’m really excited and thrilled to be back once again at Butterfly-o-Meter Books. Thank you so much for having me back Livia!
Today, I’m here to talk about the top ten Easter Eggs hidden in my latest release, Thereafter, Book Two of my Afterlife series.
I love Easter Eggs and the books of the Afterlife series are full of them—inside jokes, puns, and oblique references to pop culture and mythology. To get you started, here are ten Easter Eggs hidden in Thereafter. Feel free to add any that you find to the comments.
1. Greek Chorus
Irene, Andras, and Ian meet three men from ancient Greece; the three men answer everything together. This is a tongue-in-cheek reference to the traditional “Greek chorus” (found in Greek plays).
Jonah tells Irene (via letter) that it’s the feast of Parentalia; Parentalia takes place in February. It was fall (October) when Irene left Earth/the land of the living at the end of Hereafter. This mention of Parentalia is a subtle reference to the amount of time that has passed since Irene left the land of the living and a clue that time may be passing differently on the two planes.
3. Parentalia Part 2
In his letter, Jonah tells Irene that one of the traditional gifts for the dead during Parentalia is “cereal.” He proceeds to send her a box of Captain Crunch. This is a joke (by me); “cereal” to the ancient Romans would have been “grain” or stalks of wheat. Jonah interprets the word literally and sends a box of breakfast cereal instead.
The Hippopotamuses in the river are a reference to aboriginal African afterlife beliefs in which Hippos are the guardians of the afterlife. Hippos are one of the most dangerous animals on earth and kill hundreds of people each year.
The character of Gao is based on a real person—Chinese philosopher Gao Buhai or Gaozi who lived somewhere around 300-350 BCE.
You have to really know your Lilith/Nephilim mythology to catch this reference—the mysterious old woman in the dead city who is never identified makes a comment that people say the angels/Nephilim are her children. In mythology, Nephilim are the children of Lilith, Adam’s first wife (before Eve). Bonus trivia: Lilith is also considered to be the first vampire; the white angel that attacks Irene bites her on the neck and sucks her “blood,” like a vampire. This is a reference to Nephilim as the children of Lilith/vampires.
7. The Cat
A little black and white cat shows up to lead and assist Irene. The cat is actually a Pooka, but takes the form of a cat as a nod to both Japanese culture in which cats are thought to house the spirits of the dead (the origin of the Japanese lucky cat statues) and Egyptian mythology related to cats and the afterlife. Bonus trivia: this is foreshadowed in Book #1/Hereafter when Irene first sees a cat that ducks under a hedge after looking both ways, as if to make sure no one is following/watching it, and then later when Irene feeds a cat in the park. Irene has the sense the cat is “judging” her. When she offers it a piece of sandwich, the cat considers the food before taking it. Earlier, Madame Majicka told Irene that Irene could find a guide in the afterlife if she spread a little “goodwill.” Irene assumed her guide would be a person; however, the cat is actually Irene’s guide. By feeding it, Irene contracts its services. You’ll notice that the cat continually demands payment for helping Irene in Thereafter. The bit of sandwich Irene gave it in Hereafter is the first payment she makes.
8. The Ferryman
Jonah asks Irene in a letter if the ferryman is a skeleton or just a really old man. This is a reference to the various depictions of Charon, the ferryman of Greek mythology, who is based on an older Egyptian myth featuring a ferryman named “Face Behind.” You’ll notice, however, that there is no description of the ferryman given in Thereafter. The boat appears, but it’s never described who is steering it. That is a purposeful omission.
9. The Battle of Alarcos
Andras recounts that he died at the Battle of Alarcos in 1195. Everything about Andras is draw from history, including details of the battle. There also was a de Cordova family, with member in the Order of Santiago (a real religious military order). The family, however, did not have a son named Andras; I inserted a fictitious third son into the family tree. Irene’s information that the Spanish later retook the area in a subsequent battle and that today the area is a historical site and museum is also correct.
10. Burned Woman
Andras refers to a woman he saw burned as a heretic, which is the historically accurate use of death by fire. Many people believe that they burned witches, but this is not true. Burning was the penalty for heresy and refusing to accept the Roman Catholic faith. During the Salem Witch trials, all of the accused were hung, except for Giles Corey who was pressed to death.
And since I’m on a roll – here’s one extra Easter Egg:
The entirety of Thereafter is set in a kind of indeterminate or in-between place that combines elements of the Buddhist state of Bardo, the Christian concept of Limbo, and the Sumerian Underworld (a gray, washed out, and dismal place). This is combined with the Greek ferryman/river Acheron, the Japanese black trees and Hungry Ghosts, and the aboriginal African and Native American “village over the hill.”
And there you have it—some of the hidden tidbits built into Thereafter. If you spot any others, be sure to let me know—post to my Facebook fan page or send me an email. I love it when readers catch these references!
About the Author & Links:
Terri Bruce has been making up adventure stories for as long as she can remember. Like Anne Shirley, she prefers to make people cry rather than laugh, but is happy if she can do either. She produces fantasy and adventure stories from a haunted house in New England where she lives with her husband and three cats.
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