I drew on mythologies, religions and folklore from around the world to populate the monster side of Muse FM's character cast. My research drew from four main sources, several less useful sources and the almighty Internet (all hail). I've done my best not to misappropriate anyone's cultural traditions, although I have sometimes strayed from the source material in the interests of creative license and logical plot.
Below is a short compilation of what I hope is all of the monster references made in the story. My main sources are cited at the bottom, because that is what being a historian does to a person. I hope these descriptions help enrich the story for you. If anyone would like more information, or would like to lambast me for getting something wrong, please feel free to drop me a line.
Banshee (Ireland, Scotland)
The banshee, which translates to 'Fairy Woman' or 'Woman of the Mound', is more often heard than seen. She attaches herself to certain Scottish and Irish families, or families particularly gifted with music and song. Although banshees sometimes appear to give advice, more often they appear to foretell a tragedy and their wailing, or keening, is an omen of death. Sometimes the banshee assumes the form of a sweet singing virgin of the family. More usually, she is seen at night as a shrouded woman, crouched beneath the trees, or flying past in the moonlight, lamenting with a veiled face, or combing her long flowing hair while sitting in a tree.
The banshee is sometimes said to look like an old woman with long flowing white hair. Another description is of a woman in white (the colour of death) with a ghastly face surrounded by long red hair, and sometimes she is described as beautiful but veiled in mourning.
Brownie (England, Scotland)
--Pat the custodian
The brownie is a household spirit that works tirelessly on household tasks, particularly cleaning the house and tending the fields. Brownies were to be rewarded with milk or fresh cream - anything else was considered a great insult and could cause the brownie to leave in disgust.
Centaur (Greece, Rome)
--Kim the mafia goon
Centaurs have the body and hind quarters of a horse but the head and torso of a human. Centaurs are usually kind, generous and wise creatures, but have no tolerance for alcohol, which makes them violent, unruly drunks.
Clíodhna is an Irish fairy who is queen of the Banshees of the Tuatha dé Danann. In some myths, she is the goddess of love and beauty.
Appearing in the mythology of numerous Native American peoples, the coyote is variously a trickster, a hero, a nature spirit and a demon clown. Coyote is able to shapeshift and can be benevolent or mischievous to the point of malevolence. He is particularly known for his deceitful nature, but is also responsible for giving many gifts to mankind, including fire, artistry and husbandry.
Eros (pl. Erotes) (Greece, Rome)
The erotes are a group of winged gods associated with love and sex. They were usually portrayed as handsome, naked winged youths. The erotes are sometimes considered the messengers of Eros, the Greek god of love/sexual attraction (Roman equivalent = Cupid). Eros himself is sometimes considered a primordial god (and one of the erotes) and sometimes the son of Aphrodite, the goddess of love. Eros had the ability to make people fall in love by shooting them with his bow and arrow.
In later periods, particularly in Renaissance art, the erotes were were typically depicted as chubby cherubs. You may have heard of them. :)
The Fae (Predominantly Europe and the Middle East)
An alternate term for 'fairies' or 'sidhe'. The fae vary in location and appearance, but generally resemble tiny humans and are usually considered beautiful. Some of the fae are benign to humans, although many have a tricksy, unreliable nature which can result in harm or humiliation for unwary humans.
In British folklore, the fae are subdivided into two courts: the Seelie (Light/Blessed) Court and the Unseelie (Uncanny) Court. Typically, the Seelie Court is more benevolent to humans, while denizens of the Unseelie Court try to destroy humans at every opportunity.
Faun (Greece, Rome)
Fauns are mischievous nature spirits and often the companions of the god Faunus. They have semi-human form: they have the torso and head of a man, but the legs, hooves and horns of a goat or deer. They are guardians of the woods and wildlife.
Gorgon (Greece, Rome)
The gorgons were women with wings, great tusks, clawed hands and writhing snakes in place of hair. Any mortal who looked into a gorgon's eyes was instantly turned to stone. In Classical Greek myth, the hero Perseus was responsible for slaying Medusa, the most fearsome of the gorgons. Her severed head was placed on the aegis (breastplate) of Athena, the goddess of wisdom.
Hantu Pemburu (Malaysia)
Hantu pemburu, which translates variously to 'the Hunter Spirit' or 'the Ghost Huntsman', is a fearful spirit from the folk beliefs of the Malay people of West Malaysia. Similar to the European Wild Hunt, the hantu pemburu hunts the stormy skies for those traveling alone and for the lost souls of sinners, whom he transports directly to hell. He has a pack of supernatural hounds that help him in his search.
The Encyclopedia of Demons in World Religions and Cultures by Theresa Bane conflates the hantu pemburu with the hantu si buru (the Spirit That Hunts): a man who became a spirit/demon during his impossible hunt for a pregnant male deer. This spirit brings sickness and death to those around it.
The Muses (Greece, Rome)
--The name of the radio station
The nine guardian spirits of the arts in Classical Greece and Rome. Each Muse is the patron of one aspect of the arts (singing, meditation, memory, epic poetry, history, love poetry, tragedy, eloquence, dance, comedy, astronomy). They were the daughters of Zeus, king of the gods, and Mnemosyne, the nymph of memory.
--the foreign exchange student
The tengu are spirits in the Shinto traditions of Japan. They are mainly humanoid, but also possess wings and beaks. They are trickster spirits with great magical powers and the ability to shapeshift.
Troll (Nordic Countries)
Originally, Scandinavian trolls were described as cruel, ugly, massive, hairy giants who attack and eat humans. In some regions, trolls are ogres with humped backs, hooked noses and red caps. In Norway, trolls are renowned metal workers, healers and workers of magic that turn to stone if the sun shines on them.
NOTE: Muse FM mainly uses the early concept of the hairy Scandinavian troll.
The earliest accounts of the unicorn describe it as a creature with the body of a horse, legs and feet like an elephant, the tail of a boar, the head of a deer and a single black horn. Unicorn horn, also known during the European Medieval period as alicorn, was well known for its great restorative powers. It was used to purify water, heal illnesses and detect poisons.
NOTE: This entry is focused on the European interpretation of the unicorn, developed from Greek mythic origins. The Oriental kirin/kilin has a very different character and description.
The Wild Hunt (Europe)
Led by the Wild Huntsman, the Wild Hunt is usually describe as a hoard of spirits that fly through the skies on stormy nights in search of the souls of the damned, the unbaptized and unlucky onlookers to drag them into hell.
The Witching Hour
--the name of Jensen's radio show
3 AM is the witching hour: the time when supernatural creatures, including demons, ghosts and witches, are at their most powerful.
--Sana, the multi-armed switchboard operator
This character is an oblique reference to the multi-armed deities and demons of the Hindu religion. The multiplicity of arms emphasizes a deity's immense power and superhuman ability to perform many actions at once. Sana is intended to connect to this cultural tradition without representing a specific deity or demon.
Franklin, Anna. The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Fairies. Paper Tiger: London, 2004. Print.
Page, Michael and Robert Ingpen. Encyclopedia of Things That Never Were. Penguin: New York, 1985. Print.
Rose, Carol. Giants, Monsters and Dragons: An Encyclopedia of Folklore, Legend and Myth. WW Norton and Company: New York, 2000. Print.
--- Spirits, Fairies, Leprechauns and Goblins: An Encyclopedia. WW Norton and Company: New York, 1996. Print.