Meddling Gods and Evil Faeries
Quiver by Stephanie Spinner
It was a tremendous feeling, to chase after the legendary boar of Calydon. Though surrounded by Jason and his brawny Argonauts, fleet-footed Atalanta sought glory in the hunt, not romantic entanglements. She'd been pledged to Artemis, the virgin huntress, ever since she was found, a nursling of a wild she-bear, by hunters who raised her as their own. Sport was all to her. Quick with her bow and blessed with superhuman swiftness, yet she was not blind to the yearning in Prince Meleager's eyes, so soon interrupted....
...it came again, a heavy mix of smoke and fat and marshland mud, and with it, tremors like those that shake the earth before it rips apart. He was very near.
"There!" I pointed to a place fifty paces off.
"He was bigger than a bull, with bristles like skewers and filthy tusks as long as javelins. Steam came off his body like the foul nimbus of some underworld being; even in the morning light, he seemed to stand in the gloom.
Atalanta would have her moment of glory, but at the cost of a friend's life, for the gods were meddling again. Artemis enjoyed using the girl as her tool to bring down the royal house that had insulted her. Human feelings were truly of secondary importance. If a dozen love-smitten princes must die so that Atalanta might prove her loyalty to the goddess, so be it.
But the affairs of the gods are as tangled as those of their mortal playthings. Artemis isn't the only immortal betting on Atalanta's fidelity and swiftness. The Huntress' beloved brother and sometimes rival Apollo has taken her wager, and Eros has joined the action, as has his mother, Aphrodite, she who often grants humans their hearts' desires.
Faerie Wars by Herbie Brennan
He had run away from the palace in the dead of night. No one who saw him in his ragged clothing was supposed to be able to recognize him. Months later and on the run from Lord Hairstreak's men, Prince Pyrgus went full tilt down Seething Lane. The factory lay just ahead. Once inside, he slipped on a white lab coat and blended in with the rest of the workers. He walked past the evil-smelling vats that churned out noxious Miracle Glue. He was surprised to see a birdcage hanging in the heat. It contained a mother cat quietly nursing her kittens. Pyrgus was surprised the Faeries of the Night kept pets. He asked an old man about it.
"Chuck in a live kitten and it makes a batch of glue stick better than anything on the market. 'course, that's a secret."
"You ... put kittens in the glue?"
"One a day," the old man said proudly. "There's one due to go in about now, so you can see it if you like. Mother cat's quiet now, but she howls for hours afterwards. Keeps calling the dead kitten, stupid little toad. It's a great laugh."
Nearby in another world, Henry Atherton was sitting down to a nice bowl of corn flakes. He'd just finished a model of a pig that could really, truly fly. His mother seemed extremely vacant this morning. And then his father came in from spending the night in the spare room. Something was definitely wrong. His father refused breakfast, wouldn't kiss his mother goodbye, and raced off to meet the train. He grudgingly gave Henry a lift.
He didn't want to talk to Henry, let alone answer his questions. No, indeed. But he had just blurted it out: "Are you having an affair with Anais, Dad?"
The silence was so deep it seemed to overcome the ticking of the car's engine. Henry sat quite still, his hand still on the door handle, looking at his father. He thought his dad would be angry, but instead he just looked distant, as if he was in the hot seat on Who Wants To Be a Millionaire? Are you having an affair with Anais? A. Yes. B. No. C. Not any more. D. We're just good friends. One of those answers is worth £64,000, Mr. Atherton. But the drop's a bit steep if you get it wrong.
An attempt on Pyrgus' life brings him to Henry's world, and his adventurous spirit has no regard for humdrum rules. After all, why can't you break into a public school building if your father's life is at stake? Henry certainly has enough worries, but you can't let a friend down, now can you? Particularly if he's desperate to get home, and home lies in another part of the cosmos.