Slow Burn

Book 11 in the Wyrdwolf series

Book 11 in the Wyrdwolf series
Three funerals on the same day were far too many for Isolde and Michael. And Aunt Trudi made matters worse, as usual. So the theft was just icing on the cake.

Then Izzy realised it was personal. Everyone was inclined to treat it as a puzzle - until it became clear what the stakes were. If losing appendages wasn't bad enough, no one was prepared for Da'ath. Except Ari, Michael's tutor from university. But it didn't end there. Something far worse was coming.

It didn't help that Bernard's secretary was lying. Or that the person behind the puzzles was enchanting them, one by one. Or that Ari wasn't exactly being straight with them.

When it all stops being a game, it's too late to pull out. Is Ari the target or Izzy? Why is Cyn lying? What was Ari? Not even Declan knew the answer to that. Without Michael or Declan to help, Izzy must conclude their nightmare treasure hunt alone and face the Minotaur at the centre of the labyrinth. But which of them will die there?

The eleventh book in the Wyrdwolf series draws on ceremonial magic, Kabbalah and medieval folklore. Set in the borderlands of England and South Wales.

Slow Burn - on sale in Kindle or print editions, via Amazon.

  • Author: Alexa Duir
  • Set in: England, 2015
  • series number: Book #11
  • Where to buy: Amazon US
  • Where to buy: Amazon UK
  •    For other countries, click on the UK link and substitute your country's domain for the .co.uk in the url
  • True BitsIf you want to know which of the folklore and history in the books is true

True Bits in the book


Chapter 1
Bloodmonth is a common rendition of the Anglo Saxon Blotmonaþ. Another is Sacrifice month. It roughly equates to November.   

Appletreewick exists.

Chapter 2
Storm Barney hit England and Wales 17 November 2015.

The information about names is true.

On Friday 13 November 2015, terrorist attacks took place in Paris. 130 people died and 413 were injured.

Chapter 3
Horrible Histories is a UK series of illustrated history books aimed at children.

Sky burial is practised by several cultures/religions.

Chapter 4
SOCO (British police) = scene of crime officer who collects forensic evidence.

canteen culture (UK slang) = a set of conservative and discriminatory attitudes said to exist within the police force.

The Devonshire Arms exists.

Chapter 5
The allusions from Heathen mythology in the Howling:

chain-breaking son of trickster-sire = Fenrir the wolf, son of Loki.

the dashing pair that stars devour = Skoll and Hati, the wolves that pursue the sun and the moon

the greedy ones at Grimnir’s side = Freki and Geri, Odin’s wolves.

the snake-reined steeds, that troll-wives’ ride = the wolves of Ironwood (see the Prose Edda Gylfaginning 12)

Halls or Hel = the eternal dwellings of the gods or the realm ruled by Hel, Loki’s daughter.

Chapter 6
C’est merveilleux (French) = that’s wonderful!

Mais oui (French) = but yes. An emphatic agreement.

Chapter 7
Mash (Yorkshire dialect) = make tea.

daft awd bugger (Yorkshire idiom) = stupid man. Used affectionately.

The information about the meanings of names is true.

The Christie book is The Murder of Roger Ackroyd.

Tata (French) = auntie.

Apotropaic objects are designed to avert malefic magic.

A hamsa is an apotropaic symbol in the shape of an open hand. Also known as the Hand of Fatima, it is popular throughout the Middle East and North Africa.

Chapter 8
Except for Dracula and vampires, the other monsters in the ride are from Greek mythology.

Chapter 9
What Howard says about showman culture is true.

Owt (Yorkshire dialect) = anything.

Nowt (Yorkshire dialect) = nothing.

Fairgrounds rides have a good safety record in the UK.

Dark ride (Fairground slang) = a ride that takes place in the dark, such as a ghost train.

Chapter 10
Eureka exists.

D’accord (French) = OK

Bettys of Harrogate exists.

Chapter 11
The gods mentioned as subjects for the godposts are all from Heathen mythology.

Chapter 12
The Eye of Horus is an ancient Egyptian symbol of protection, royal power, and good health. It’s also called a wadjet eye.

Weregold is my rendition of wergild, an early English fine. Wergild (Anglo Saxon) = man payment.

Chapter 13
The geography around Caistor is accurate.

The brands Klipfresh and Lock and Lock exist.

Chapter 14
Crazy Frog was originally known as The Annoying Thing. It was created in 2003 by actor and playwright Erik Wernquist and released as a ringtone.

Izzy is referring to the proverb “he who pays the piper calls the tune”.

Canis Maior (Latin) = great dog.

Chapter 15
n’est-ce pas (French emphasising tag, meaning relies on context) = won’t we?

VS is short for versipellis (Latin) = shapeshifter.

The World card is from the major arcana in tarot.

Désolé (French) – sorry

What Declan says about the number of sephiroth and their numbering is true.

The Kabbalah was originally Jewish mysticism. A second form was created by the Western occultists as early as the 15th century, using Jewish esotericism. Although Ari’s system was created by me, the attributes and meaning for each sephirah are authentic to the Occult Kabbalah.

Le Fou (French) – the fool.

What Morgan says about the origin or central mystery of the Kabbalah comes from Jewish esotericism.

Chapter 16
Très bien (French) = very good!

A common trope about vampires is that they have no reflection. It probably originated with Bram Stoker’s Dracula.

Chapter 17
Declan is misquoting part of the description of Mary Millward in The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Bronte.

What’s up, doc? is Bugs Bunny’s catchphrase.

A Kris is an Indonesia asymmetrical dagger.

Alicorn (from Italian alicorno) = The horn of a unicorn considered as a medical or pharmacological ingredient. During the Renaissance small amounts were fantastically expensive. The trade largely collapsed in the 17th century when unicorn horns were found to be narwhale teeth.

The tale that unicorns were attracted by the purity of maidens began with the  Physiologus, written between the 2nd to 4th century CE. The popularity of the idea in medieval times coincided with the trade in unicorn horns.

The unicorn throne of the Danish kings, the sceptre and imperial crown of the Austrian Empire and the scabbard and the hilt of the sword of Charles the Bold were said to be made from a unicorn horn.

The 12th-century abbess Hildegard of Bingen used unicorn liver to treat leprosy. Other parts of a unicorn, including the hide and the alicorn, were said to cure other ailments. The alicorn was regarded as an aphrodisiac. Surviving a face-to-face encounter with a unicorn was a test of virginity.

Chapter 18
Kemetic (ancient Egyptian) protective wands were curved like boomerangs. The image is one made of Hippopotamus ivory dated to the Middle Kingdom, late 12th Dynasty (about 1800 BCE). It is in the British Museum.

It is the Icelandic road sign for a ford.

In Heathen mythology, Njordh was attached to coastal areas and Skadhi to the mountains. They parted because they couldn’t tolerate each other’s lands. See the Prose Edda Gylfaginning 23.

Chapter 19
Bretwalda (Anglo Saxon) = an Anglo Saxon high king.

The ancient city of Troy was in what is now Turkey.

The story of the Trojan Horse is related in Homer’s Iliad. It is a central text in Greek mythology.

Chapter 20
wee eejit (Northern Irish slang) = idiot, foolish.

In Heathen mythology, Thor is a noted warrior against frost ettins. He dresses as a bride in the Poetic Edda Thrymskviða. In the Prose Edda Gylfaginning 44, Thor uses his hammer to resurrect his goats after eating them.

Chapter 21
The descriptions of Discordians and Chaos Magicians (Chaotes) is reasonable. Both exist in modern Western magic.

BRG = British racing green. Although the name comes from the international motor racing colour of the United Kingdom, the popular shade was developed by commercial marques.

What Sam says about the property prices in Harrogate is accurate for the place and time.

Chapter 22
The allusion is to the dog in Hans Christian Anderson’s The Tinder Box.

Chapter 23
Shu (Kemetic) = He Who Rises Up. Shu is an Egyptian god represented as wearing up to four ostrich feathers. He is the air and clouds. Coffin text 80 refers to him as Life.

The Occult Kabbalah (or Hermetic Qabalah) assigns correspondences for each sephirah. These can be a planet, colour and Kemetic god among others. I have altered the correspondences for Ari’s system. The Jewish names of the sephiroth have been retained, along with some of the esoteric meanings.

Chapter 24
The description of the unicorn matches medieval images.

The story of Nuadha is from Irish mythology. The tale of Sif and Loki comes from Heathen mythology.

Bon (French) = good.

Chapter 25
Min was a god in ancient Egyptian mythology. However, the tale alluded to was probably from Classical or later times.

Moutons is a reference to a French idiom humorously translated as ‘let us return to our sheep’ meaning to return to a topic or subject.

Hilary and Trinity are the spring and summer terms at Oxford University.

The origin of the saying The enemy of my enemy is my friend is true.

Chapter 26
ne vais-je pas? (French) = will I not?

Chapter 27
By the pricking of my thumb, something wicked this way comes. The quote is from Shakespeare Macbeth Act 4 scene 1.

Snow White falls under a spell by eating an apple, whereas Sleeping Beauty pricks her finger.

Chapter 28
Scarlett is playing on the title of the 1990 film Dances with Wolves produced by Kevin Costner.

Et voilà! (French) = there you go! (said when presenting something)

mon vieux (French) = my old [friend].

Jafar is a villain in the 1992 Disney film Aladdin.

The River Thames is known as the Isis in Oxford.

Chapter 29
In Heathen mythology, Freya acquires her necklace Brisingamen by sleeping with four dwarves. The story is from Sörla þáttr in the Flateyjarbók.

What Ari says about Arabian horses is true, including the origin myth.

Chapter 30
The Hamlet quote is What’s Hecuba to him or he to Hecuba/ That he should weep for her?

There are several legends about the Teufelstritt (Devil’s Footstep) in the Munich Frauenkirche.

Chapter 31
In Heathen mythology, an Irminsul was a sacred pillar.

What Izzy says about the Mokshda system is true.

Chapter 32
In ancient Egyptian mythology, Geb is the god of the earth and father of snakes. In the book, the various objects used by Ari to represent a god or goddess are authentic to Kemetic mythology.

The words of the incense purification at Richmond are taken from the Opening of the Mouth ceremony from A E Wallis Budge’s book Egyptian Magic. The prayer to Geb is from the ancient Egyptian Pyramid Texts.

It is common in Egyptian prayers for the dead to refer to themselves as Wesir (Osiris).

Heka (Kemetic) = magic

Chapter 33
In Oxford colleges, Senior Common Room is an association of tutors.

Oxford gives congratulatory firsts.

Chapter 34
Chasar (Hebrew) and Ahmaq (Arabic) = a fool or foolish.

Chapter 35
The Cavendish family own the Bolton Abbey Estate and Chatsworth.

Katharine Briggs and Jacob Grimm are famous folklorists who collected fairy stories.

Thomas the Rhymer (Sir Thomas de Ercildoun) lived in the 13th century. The first account of him dates to a hundred years later, and the ballad is much later.

Kinder, Küche, Kirche (German) = children, kitchen, church. It reflects a particular model of a woman’s place in society.

Chapter 36
Hoist with my own petard = fall into my own trap. (Shakespeare, Hamlet).

The labyrinth used with the map is a modified Classical. The usual form is used for the section title The Labyrinth. It traces back to at least the Bronze Age.

Hillsborough is the greatest disaster in British sporting history. Liverpool was one of the teams playing on 15 April 1989. 96 Liverpool supporters died and 766 were injured.

Chapter 37
Rare-earth magnets are the strongest type of permanent magnets made. They were developed in the 1970s and 1980s.

Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa (1486-1535) existed. He wrote Renaissance esoterica. He created a catalogue of magic.

Chapter 39
The classical style of Roman names was praenomen (familiar name) nomen (clan name) cognomen (nickname).

In Japanese mythology, kitsune are magical foxes.

What Marcus says about oaths was true in ancient Rome. The wording of the sacramentum used by the VS is my creation.  

In Classical mythology, the Styx was the river dividing this world from the Underworld. Souls were ferried across by Charon.

In Heathen mythology, Asgard is the world of the gods. It has walls.

Excursions and Alarms
The New Forest has free-ranging ponies and the Forest of Dean has wild boar. The area of England in and around the New Forest tends to be wealthy.

In Egyptian mythology, Nut is the goddess of the sky. A ladder is her symbol.

What Morgan says about Skyrack is true. It was an administrative area in the Danelaw, centred on Headingley.

A Class Act
Et voilà! Comme je l’avais prédit! (French) = There you go! Just as I predicted!

What is said about PIR and the detection of CCTV is true for the time.

The birds mentioned take part in the dawn chorus in the UK. The wren is called a king in the folklore of many western European countries.

Peace for our time was a declaration made by Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain 30 September 1938 concerning the Munich Agreement.

Running the Maze
What is said about the public right of way in England is true.

In Heathen mythology, the goddess Idhunn keeps the apples of youth.

Schnitzer (German) = carver or blunder

There was a dentist in west London by the name of Dr Phang.

In Heathen mythology, the disir (dis is singular) are female ancestors and guardians.

Tacitus Germania 10 mentions the Germanic peoples using sticks for divination.

The history of Woolman in the Forest of Dean is true.

On the Skids
Ghostbusters is a 1984 American fantasy comedy film. The ghostbusters used proton packs and ghost traps.

The Meaning of Life
The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there is the first sentence of L. P. Hartley’s The Go-Between (1953)

In ancient Egyptian mythology, the sun was the god Ra, who travelled across the sky in a boat.

Tree of Life is another name for the Kabbalah.

The gipsy’s warning (saying) = a warning of dire consequences if an action is carried out.

Netjeru (Kemetic) = gods. Netjer = god.

In the Christian religion, the Annunciation is the announcement by the Archangel Gabriel to Mary that she would bear Jesus. An Annunciation is a piece of art depicting that.

Crossing the Abyss
“I want to be alone” was spoken by Greta Garbo in Grand Hotel (1932).

Da’ath
Qoph is the nineteenth letter of the Hebrew alphabet. The word means monkey or ape in modern Hebrew.

In ancient Egyptian mythology, the god Djehuty (Thoth) is often represented as a baboon. One of his titles is ‘Thrice Great’. He is associated with the moon, which has a synodic cycle of nineteen years. The akh is a soul that has been judged and passed into the afterlife. The soul is weighed against the feather of Ma’at, which represents harmony and balance.

In Kemetic mythology, True of Voice = moral purity.

Ein Sof is the name given to the creator (God) of the Kabbalah. In Judaism, El Shaddai is one of the names of God.

Ari quotes from Psalm 139: 15-16 (JPS Tanakh 1917). The Mikra is the Tanakh: the Hebrew Bible.

The titles Ari uses for Djehuty come from ancient Egyptian mythology.

Chapter 40
Ari (Hebrew) = lion.

Ur hekau (Kemetic) = mighty one of enchantments. The real ur hekau was an instrument used by a Sem priest in funerary rites to give the dead magical wisdom.

A Coptic painting of a unicorn was found in the tomb Urarna II at Sheik Said in Egypt.

Chapter 41
Sub-judice (legal) = under consideration and therefore prohibited from public discussion.

In ancient Egypt, Sirius appeared at the time of the annual flooding of the Nile.

Yinepu is the Kemetic name for Anubis.

Indrik is a distorted version of the Russian word for unicorn.

In Heathen mythology, the rainbow bridge Bifrost will break at the beginning of Ragnarok.

Chapter 42
What Cyn says about the politics of the 1960s and 70s is true, allowing for her perspective. The Cuban Missile Crisis (1962) could have led to nuclear war between the US and Russia. The Profumo Affair (1963) was a sex and spy scandal. Harold Wilson was accused of using it for class warfare. The Labour Party won the election in October 1964 and Wilson became Prime Minister.

The Troubles was the UK name for the conflict in Northern Ireland during the late 20th century. Cyn’s story begins around 1969.

The Conservatives formed the British government 1970–1974. Edward Heath was the Prime Minister. The Three-Day Week took place in the first two months of 1974 in response to industrial action by coal miners.

The IRA began bombing in England during 1973. The coach party attack took place in early 1974. The general election was called in February 1974. A second one was called later in 1974.

 I didn’t make up the plot to overthrow the UK government in 1974-5 although it is disputed. The information is in the public domain.

Margaret Thatcher became the leader of the Conservative Party in 1975 and Prime Minister in 1979.

The Annunciation is one of a series of 15th-century frescoes by Fra Angelico in the San Marco Convent in Italy.

Chapter 43
The Lion and the Unicorn is a child’s nursery rhyme.

Chapter 45
Domine (Latin) = Lord.

WAGs is an acronym used to refer to wives and girlfriends of high-profile sportspersons.

Mercury (Roman)/Hermes (Greek) was associated with trickery.

Chapter 47
Pas de problème. Nous te parlerons en français (French) = No problem. We will speak to you in French.

Chapter 48

In ancient Athens, the philosopher Socrates was condemned to death by drinking hemlock.

In Oxford University, Trinity term begins on the fourth Sunday in April.

Food poisoning can cause miscarriage. Expecting twins increases the risk.

 In ancient Egyptian mythology, the sun boat went through the underworld at night. The gods Ra and Set fought and killed Apep (chaos) there. Apep is represented as a snake.

There is some evidence that ancient Egyptian priests wore masks.

The sha is an unknown animal associated with the Egyptian god Set. Set is the lord of the Redland (the desert).

The numbers three and seven held significance for the ancient Egyptians.

Chapter 49
Tamworth was the capital of the Anglo Saxon kingdom of Mercia. Its flag was a gold cross on a blue background.

Chapter 50
The Fly is a science-fiction horror film, made in 1958 and again in 1986.

Chapter 51
In Heathen mythology, Sessrumnir is Freya’s hall in Asgard. See the Prose Edda Gylfaginning 24.

Chapter 52
In the ancient Roman religion, the devotio was made to chthonic (underworld) gods in exchange for a victory. The story about Publius Decius Mus is true.

Clemens’ devotio follows the form of that of Decius Mus’. Many of the gods and spirits he calls on have a connection with the underworld. Di Manes are the respected dead. Di Inferi are chthonic gods.

Any Roman rite or religious act required the invocation of Janus first, with a corresponding invocation to Vesta at the end.

What Clemens says about the technical aspects of pyre building is true.

Chapter 55
The tests Izzy undergoes are standard for cardiac cases.

At the time this book was written, the top cardiac hospital in the US was in Cleveland Ohio. It ranked in the top three for pulmonology.

 Royal Papworth Hospital is the UK’s largest specialist cardiothoracic hospital.

Chapter 56
Heart transplant patients have to take anti-rejection drugs for the lifetime of the transplanted heart.

Chapter 57
In Heathen mythology, Loki seduced Tyr’s (=Tiw’s) wife. See the Poetic Edda Lokasenna 40.

Chapter 58
Noisy breathing is a sign of imminent death.

The ba is one of the parts of the soul in ancient Egyptian mythology. It is the part that is judged and is usually represented as a bird with a human head.

Chapter 59
El Ashmunein is the modern name for ancient Egyptian Khemenu (Hermopolis). It was the main cult centre for Djehuty.

Chapter 60
Julian of Norwich was an English Christian hermit in the 14th-15th centuries.

Jews were expelled by various European countries between 1290 and 1597. Most readmissions took place in the 18th and 19th centuries. England was the first to expel and lifted the expulsions in the 17th century (technically) and 18th century (in practice).

Chapter 61
The College (or Society) of Antiquaries met from around 1586 to around 1607. Cotton was a member. He is famous for his collection of historical documents. John Greaves (1602–1652) surveyed the Great Pyramid of Giza.

What is said about Napoleon Bonaparte and the Description de l’Égypte is true.

Gavrinis, Barnenez, Locmariaquer and the Ness of Brodgar are megalithic monuments. The first three are in Brittany, France. The last is in Orkney, Scotland.

Chapter 62
Di Inferi (Latin) = the gods below. A collective of ancient Roman deities associated with death and the underworld.

Turpis (Latin) = filthy, ugly, deformed.