Serpent Mound Lore #SomethingWickedTour @stacitroilo @storyempire

Hello and welcome to the first day of Story Empire’s Something Wicked Blog Tour! The SE authors will be sharing posts all week long, visiting the blogs of our colleagues  with posts and books offering shivers and goosebumps. We hope you’ll join in the fun and, hopefully, discover some chill-inducing reads along the way. You can find the complete tour schedule here.

But don’t expect all of those goosebumps to come from creepy-crawling things or ghosts and ghouls oozing from the crypt. As my first guest, Staci Troilo, explains, darkness comes in all shapes…


Thanks for welcoming me here today, Mae.

The Gate

Ciao, amici! When my SE cohorts came up with the idea for a Something Wicked tour, I was initially concerned about how my current writing would fit into the theme. Sci-fi felt like a far cry from malevolence. Then I realized aliens with a nefarious agenda were just as wicked as demons; they just had a different origin. I don’t think it matters if a being is from a star in the Hydrus constellation or from Hell… evil is a matter of intent, not origin.

My Astral Conspiracy series is a combination of futuristic tech and ancient history. If you (like me) are obsessed with—or even aware of—Ancient Aliens, you’ll understand where I’m coming from.

In The Gate, the first of my five-book series, the characters visit the Great Serpent Mound in Adams County, Ohio. They’re there to steal a buried artifact, which is absolutely fiction. But the lore behind the effigy is pure fact. And it’s fascinating. Serpent Mound (aerial view)

Photo Attribution: Timothy A. Price and Nichole I.; uploaded by the authors. [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Serpent Mound was built by Native Americans. I wish I could tell you when, but that’s still up for debate. A set of charcoal pieces was found in 1996. Two of the pieces were carbon-dated to 1070, which would make the builders the Fort Ancient society (a mound-building culture from the Late Prehistoric era, 900-1650 AD). But the third was dated two thousand years earlier to the Adena culture (2920 +/-65 years BC). The current theory, and the one that makes the most sense to me, is that is was built during the Adena period and then renovated by the Fort Ancients. Adena graves nearby strengthen that theory.

The Great Serpent Mound is a 1,348-foot long, three-foot-high earthwork of a snake. It’s the largest known serpent effigy in the world. It’s located on an astrobleme (an asteroid impact structure whose center is raised sedimentary strata). At the west end, the snake’s tail is coiled into a spiral; at the east, its mouth is open as though eating an egg, the sun, a giant eye, or the body of a frog (experts can’t decide). There are seven curves to its body.

But what was it built for? The oval and head area of the effigy is aligned with the summer solstice sunset while the tail is in line with the winter solstice sunrise. It’s also been suggested that the undulations of the body are correspond to certain lunar events. So, the mound may be a calendar marking the seasons.

The sculpt mimics the constellation Draco, with the star Thuban mapped to the first curve of the body. Thuban was used as the North Pole star from the fourth to second millennium BC, so there is an argument to be made that the effigy was a compass of sorts.

And nearby graves suggest this may have been a mortuary of sorts, a place that would help guide spirits to the great beyond. (It’s worth noting the graves were nearby, but none were found at the site itself.)

Whatever its true purpose, it has a great significance in my novel, The Gate, book one of my Astral Conspiracy series. If you’re curious about how I used it, I encourage you to read the book.


The Gate

He lost his job. Lost his girl. Now it’s all he can do not to lose his life.

Landon Thorne is a disgraced archaeologist, a laughing stock in his field because of his unconventional beliefs – he’s an ancient astronaut theorist. No one takes him seriously.

Until an alien armada targets Earth.

Now Landon’s in high demand – by the US government and someone far more sinister.

They race across two continents to the Gate of the Gods, the one place on Earth that might give humans an advantage over the aliens. But no one is prepared for what they’ll find.

And not everyone will make it out alive.

The Gate is the first of five novels in the Astral Conspiracy Series, part of Sterling and Stone’s Invasion Universe.

Universal Purchase Link

Other Links:

Staci’s Amazon Page | Staci’s BookBub Page | D.L.’s Amazon Page | D.L.’s BookBub Page

Bio box for author, Staci Troilo

I found this fascinating, just like the book. The Gate is an excellent story that moves at a break-neck pace. I highly recommend adding it for addictive reading.

Finally, in closing, Joan Hall is hosting me today, where I’m sharing a scary historical encounter. Hop over if you can and check out Red Eyes and Winged Beasts.

Book Review: The Scout by D.L.Cross #sci-fi #aliens

Closing out my July reading is a standalone novella that I was super-excited to have land on my Kindle. D.L.Cross gives us a peak into both the Invasion Universe and her Astral Conspiracy series (I devoured the first and am eagerly awaiting the second). Before I give you my review, here’s the blurb:

book cover for The Scout by D.L.Cross shows large scary tree on dark backgroundThe aliens have landed. The humans are panicking. The scouts have been sent.

J’s mission is clear — find an alien outpost, observe, report back. Simple enough. It’s what he’s trained to do. But he’s always worked with his team, never as a party of one. Now he’s been sent out alone to blindly navigate a dense, dark forest until he finds his target. The dynamics are foreign to him, the stakes never higher. Resources are scarce. Comms are down.

And he’s found the enemy.

J is shocked when everyone’s true allegiances are revealed. And the consequences of betrayal will be deadly.

A short story set in the bestselling Invasion Universe, “The Scout” by D.L. Cross will have you hungering for more. Pick up your copy today!

And now my 5 star review:

An excellent short story that takes a look at what happens when alien cultures clash.

J is determined to complete his mission as a scout, gathering intel on an alien outpost, but the assignment grows murky when he connects with one of “the enemy.” The pace moves quickly, hurtling the reader toward a confrontation which addresses the nature of loyalties and betrayal.

A quick read, The Scout is part of the Invasion Universe, but stands perfectly on its own. The author also writes the Astral Conspiracy series of novels which made this bit of short fiction a treat for someone eagerly awaiting book 2 in that series. New fans and established fans will enjoy The Scout for its fluid story, tight plot, and polished writing. You can’t go wrong with anything from the pen of D.L. Cross!

Ready to blast off with an out of this world read? You can grab your copy of The Scout: Dark Crossings  at this Universal Purchase Link.

Happy reading!

May Book Reviews, Part 1

Hello, and welcome to another round of book reviews. I’m splitting them up this month, sharing half now and the remainder in another post at the end of the month. As always, click on the Amazon link for the book blurb or to learn more about the individual title. First up is a book I read in April but forgot to post. Oops!

Book over for Esther by Angela HuntEsther
By Angela Hunt

I love stories based on those who populate the Old Testament and found this an enjoyable read. It moved a bit slowly in some spots, but overall the story kept me riveted and flipping pages.

King Xerxes of Persia orders all young women who are comely in appearance to be brought to his court to serve as concubines. One will be chosen as his new queen. Esther, a Jewish girl is abducted and taken to the palace. Although she eventually wins the pagan king’s heart and becomes his queen, she must hide her faith for fear of reprisal. But when a man who gains the King’s ear wants to exterminate all Jews, Esther must boldly take a stand—for herself, her people, and her God.

Esther doesn’t get much coverage in the Bible, but the author did an excellent job of staying true to her story. Anything that was fictionalized fell logically into place and the historical and religious elements were brought vividly to life. I fully intend to look for more books by this author. 4 Stars!

Amazon Link
Genre: Ancient World Historical Romance


Book cover for the Moses Chronicles: Exodus by H. B. MooreaThe Moses Chronicles #3: Exodus
By H.B. Moore

This is the final book in a trilogy about Moses. Books one and two take the reader from his birth to his time as an honored son in the Egyptian court, his exile, marriage, and discovery of the burning bush on Mount Horeb. In book three, Moses returns to Egypt to confront Pharaoh with God’s order to set His people free.

I didn’t read the first two books, which could be why the story slowed for me in some places. There are references to previous events and relationships between the characters. That was all interesting to a degree, but what I was most interested in was the test of wills between Ramses and Moses, and—most especially—the many plagues the Lord sent to Egypt. When the author concentrated on those, the book soared.

Told in third-person POV, the chapters shift between the perspectives of Moses, Aaron, Miriam, and Moses’ Egyptian mother, Bithiah. I found the chapters from Moses’ POV and Bithiah’s the most riveting. And, yes, the author handled the parting of the Red Sea. This made me want to watch my DVD of The Ten Commandments again!  4.5 stars!

Amazon Link
Genre: Christian Historical Fiction > Religious Historical Fiction


Book cover for The Invited by Jennifer McMahonThe Invited
By Jennifer McMahon

Jennifer McMahon is one of my auto-buy authors, and I get excited whenever I see a new release from her. The Invited is a ghost story with threads of witchcraft and spiritualism that serves up a generous dollop of greed, tragedy, and twisted genealogy. This book creeps along—a bit slow at the beginning—as characters are introduced and an old legend gradually unfolds.

Like a ticking time bomb, the book builds to an explosive conclusion, sucking the reader deeper and deeper with each successive chapter into the grim history of a small New England town. This isn’t a hide-under-the-covers type of book, but one that delivers shivers and goose bumps, while examining the darker side of human nature.

In the early 1900s, Hattie Breckenridge was hung as a witch, her body discarded in the bog where she made her home. Enter Helen and Nate, a married couple who purchase the land where Hattie lived. In a desire to escape the bustle of suburbia, they begin constructing a home, hoping for a quiet life.

It isn’t long before odd occurrences start. Things go missing, the sound of screaming rises from the bog at night, Nate sees a mysterious white doe. As he becomes fixated on the doe, Helen delves into Hattie’s family tree, learning Hattie wasn’t the only one who met a terrible fate. With the help of an odd young girl named Olive, and a new friend, Helen is soon immersed in digging deeper into Hattie’s past, trying to discover what became of her descendants. Helen grows certain Hattie is trying to communicate with her, warning her of an ugly tragedy to come.

If you like atmospheric reads, small town settings, and things that-go-bump in the night, you’re certain to love this spooky novel. It’s all here—broken families, spirit circles, small town gossip, haunted objects—there’s even whispers of buried treasure. Brilliantly packaged and delivered as only McMahon can do, she once again proves her skill as a gifted storyteller. Now, how long until her next book? 5 Stars!

Amazon Link
Genre:  Ghost Fiction > Witch and Wizard Mysteries


Book cover for The Gate by D. L. CrossThe Gate
by D. L. Cross

In this fast-paced story, author D.L. Cross creates a melting pot of conspiracies, government coverups, and ancient civilizations. Professor Landon Thorne is an expert on alien theories. Unfortunately, most of his speculations have left him labeled a crackpot—until alien spacecraft are detected hurtling toward Earth.

Suddenly, Thorne is the man everyone needs—from secret government operatives to mercenaries for hire. Worse, the woman Thorne thought he loved turns out to be an operative who was assigned as his handler. In the matter of a single day his world goes from routine college campus to hidden government facility, to the wilds of Peru.

Cross sets a breathless pace, juggling a diverse cast of characters, most with their own agendas. There are alliances, crosses and double-crosses, betrayals and perceived betrayals. Tension is kept high with the impending arrival of potentially hostile aliens.

A good deal of research clearly went into this novel, as the author addresses the Roswell Incident, Incas, the Serpent Mound, and a web of other threads that leaves the reader constantly guessing where the next curveball is coming from. Cross throws plenty of them and sets her chapters for hooks that makes it impossible not to keep swiping pages. The writing is tight, the dialogue exchanges, rapid-fire. I found the Roswell thread particularly intriguing. This is the first book in what promises to be a riveting series. If you’re a fan of ancient alien theories mixed with fast-paced intrigue, and characters who command the pages, you don’t want to miss this one! 5 Stars!

Amazon Link
Genre:  Alien Invasion Science Fiction > Colonization Science Fiction


book cover for Whatever it Takes by S. BurkeWhatever It Takes
By S. Burke

I was sucked into this story from the get-go. The idea of a celebrity character and a Hollywood setting brought unique appeal to the story. Toss a serial killer into the mix and I knew I was in for a good read. The author crafted a complex plot with realistic characters. Kudos for a strong female lead who didn’t come off over-the-top, something I trip over frequently in popular fiction. Andi O’Connor is competent and convincing while harboring emotions and flaws that make her believable. Her relationship with James grows through the story—at a realistic pace—as the investigation draws them together.

This is a well-crafted mystery that takes an up close look at investigative work. I felt like I was putting pieces of the puzzle together along with Andi even as the danger level ramped higher. The procedural aspects of the book are exceptionally well done, the characters thoroughly developed. One of the secondary characters in particular was a surprise, sadly flawed and utterly human.

The plot ensures the reader is sent through twisted paths before delivering a satisfying conclusion. I could see this book unfolding as a movie. It has a dark underbelly, seasoned with gritty aspects of life. From the glitz of James’s Hollywood career, to the killer’s cold and abhorrent deeds, it examines two sides of life. I would love to see the character of Andi O’Connor return in a sequel. She definitely has the strength and appeal to carry a series. 5 Stars!

Amazon Link
Genre:  Suspense > Suspense Thrillers


Look for more reviews from me the end of the month. In the meantime, hopefully something I’ve shared appeals to your reader radar. There’s always room on the TBR for a few more! 🙂