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 includes a generous amount of ceremonial magic, heavily flavoured by kabbalah, a tablespoon of Were burial practices, a smidgeon of doomed love and a twist of medieval folklore, all set in one of the most beautiful parts of England.

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 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 the name given to the Anglo Saxon lunar month which has a full moon falling within November.   

Appletreewick exists and is as described.

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

The information about names imparted by Morgan is true.

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

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

Chapter 3
In the UK, 'canteen culture' refers to a set of conservative and discriminatory attitudes said to exist within the police force.

The Devonshire Arms exists.

Chapter 4
The allusions in the Howling:

chain-breaking son of trickster-sire = Fenrus 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, the daughter of Loki.

Chapter 5
C'est merveilleux (French) = that's wonderful!

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

Chapter 6
Mash (Yorkshire dialect) = make tea.

The information about the meanings of names given by Morgan is true.

What is said about The Murder of Roger Ackroyd is true.

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 7
With the exception of Dracula and vampires, the other monsters in the ride are from Greek mythology.

Chapter 8
What Howard says about showman culture is true.

Nowt (Yorkshire dialect) = nothing

Owt (Yorkshire dialect) = anything

Fairgrounds rides have a good safety record in the UK.

Chapter 9
Eureka exists.

D'accord (French) = OK

Bettys of Harrogate exists and is as described. It is spelt that way.

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

Chapter 10
The wadjet eye is an ancient Egyptian symbol of protection, royal power, and good health. It's also called the Eye of Horus

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

Versipellis (Latin) = pelt changer. The plural is versipelles.

The ancient Romans considered even numbers unlucky.

Chapter 11
The geography around Caistor is accurate.

The brands Klipfresh and Lock and Lock exist.

Lakeland is a popular homeware chain in the UK.

Chapter 12
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 13

n'est-ce pas? (French, relies on context) = shall we not?

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 Mystical Tradition as early as the 15th century. It used 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 14

Très bien (French) = very good!

Chapter 15

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

The alicorn is the name for a unicorn's horn. 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 of unicorns being 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 unicorn horn.

The 12th century abbess Hildegard of Bingen used unicorn liver for leprosy. Other parts of a unicorn, including the hide and the alicorn, were supposed to cure other ailments. The alicorn was regarded as an aphrodisiac and being able to survive facing a unicorn was a test of virginity.

Chapter 16

It is the Icelandic road sign for a ford.

The tale of Njordh and Skadhi comes from Heathen mythology, the Prose Edda Gylfaginning 23.

Chapter 17

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 18

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 true to the place and time.

Chapter 19

The allusion is to the dog in Hans Christian Anderson's The Tinder Box.

Shu (Kemetic) = he who rises up. Shu is an Egyptian god represented as wearing up to four 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 20

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 21

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 is the spring term at Oxford University.

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

Chapter 22

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

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

Chapter 23

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)

Jafar is a villain in the 1992 Disney film Aladdin.

The River Thames is known as the Isis in Oxford.

Chapter 24

In Oxford colleges, Senior Common Room is an association of tutors. It is usually a physical room.

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 25

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.

What Izzy says about the Mokshda system is true.

Chapter 26

In Heathen mythology, an Irminsul was a sacred pillar.

Chapter 27

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.

Heka (Kemetic) = magic

Chapter 28

The congratulatory first at Oxford exists.

Chapter 29

Chasar is Hebrew and Ahmaq Arabic for a fool or foolish.

Chapter 30

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

What Declan says about the Bolton Abbey Estate is true.

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.

Gullveig is a figure from Heathen mythology. She is thought to be Freya. She was killed by fire by the gods three times and walked free each time. The tale is in the Poetic Edda Voluspa 21-22.

Chapter 31

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 32

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

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

Chapter 33

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. I made up the wording of the sacramentum used by the VS.  

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

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.

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.

The birds mentioned take part in the dawn chorus in the UK. The wren is named as '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 is true.

schnitzer (German) = carver or blunder

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

Idhunna is a goddess from Heathen mythology. She keeps the apples of youth.

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

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

In the book, the various objects used by Ari to represent a god or goddess are authentic.

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

The Meaning of Life

In ancient Egyptian mythology, the god Ra travelled the sky each day in a sun boat.

Netjeru (Kemetic) = gods. Netjer = god.

Crossing the Abyss

"I want to be alone" was spoken by Greta Garbo in Grand Hotel (1932).


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

In ancient Egyptian mythology, Djehuty (Thoth) is a god. He is often represented as a baboon. One of his titles is 'Thrice Great'. He is associated with the moon, which has a synodical 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.

In Kemetic mythology, True of Voice = moral purity.

According to the Bible, Isaiah was a prophet among the ancient Hebrews. 'The King' is the Jewish Messiah.

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: 13-16 (Jewish version JPS Tanakh 1917). The Mikra is the Tanakh = the Hebrew Bible.

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

Chapter 34

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

Ari (Hebrew) = lion.

Chapter 35

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

Yinepu is the Kemetic name for Anubis.

Chapter 36

What Cyn says of the politics of the 1960s and 70s is true, allowing for her own political prejudices. 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 the Profumo Affair. 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 details I outline are 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.

Chapter 37

'Appen (Yorkshire dialect) = possibly or maybe.

Chapter 39

Dominus (Latin) = Lord.

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

Chapter 40

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

Chapter 41

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

Food poisoning can cause miscarriage.

In ancient Egyptian mythology, Ra's sun boat went into the underworld at night to fight the force of chaos.

Chapter 42

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

Chapter 43

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

Chapter 44

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

Chapter 45

In the ancient Roman religion, the devotio was an extreme form of votum in which a Roman general vowed to sacrifice his own life in battle along with the enemy to chthonic 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, such as Mercury, Dis Pater, Orcus, di Manes and di Inferi.

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 48

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

Chapter 49

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

Chapter 51

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 52

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

Chapter 53

A shabti was a small figure placed in an ancient Egyptian tomb. They were intended to act as servants or minions for the deceased in the afterlife.

Chapter 54

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) made a survey of the Great Pyramid of Giza.

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

Izzy and Michael's suggestions exist. Gavrinis, Barnenez and Locmariaquer are megalithic monuments in Brittany. The Ness of Brodgar is in Orkney, Scotland.

Chapter 55

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

Turpis (Latin) = filthy, ugly, deformed.