Of Dust and Flame: 1930s Paranormal Circus Romance

Join the show…or die trying.

Of Dust and Flame is a paranormal romance novel set in a magical travelling circus during the 1920s and 1930s. This story was expanded, rebranded, and retitled from a novella written 12 years ago called Of Silk and Fire.

An all-new Kickstarter campaign is in the works, with a prelaunch page ready. Be sure to head to the page and click Notify Me on Launch. This newly expanded version will be available on Kickstarter long before it goes live on retail sites, with an exclusive hardcover edition that will never be for sale outside of Kickstarter.

If I can get 100 followers by launch day in September, I have some spectacular tricks up my sleeve to share.

Every five years, the Cirque du Mystére hosts The Spectacle, a series of shows full of magic, mystery, and sometimes death.

Hints of Caraval, Night Circus, and Water for Elephants inspire this newly expanded exclusive edition cross-over Paranormal Romance featuring a slow-burn, rivals-to-lovers.

A dozen performers are hand selected to compete for a spot or die trying. 

Ella Olsen was born to perform acrobatic feats in her father’s circus, The Olsen Brothers’ Circus. She was also born an Essentia. 

Under her father’s orders, she kept her magical talents secret, but when you can manipulate fire, hanging from ropes at death-defying heights becomes a real challenge. 

When Ella is involved in a tragic accident, she wakes up on a strange train with no memories of what happened to her or her circus. She is thrust into a world that is only slightly like the one she knew, with acrobats, animal tamers, and a charismatic ringmaster, but in the Cirque du Mystére, everyone is an Essentia like her. 

She only recognizes Maddock, the handsome con artist and fellow aerialist, who has come to collect payment from a deal she can’t remember making. She’s forced to compete for a spot as an aerialist and her life. As a natural performer, Ella’s true motivation is not about routines and showmanship but a quest for answers. 

Maddock knows what happened to her circus–to her father–and she’s willing to die for the truth.

Unedited excerpt from OF DUST AND FLAME


June 1938

British Columbia, Canada

The ash swirls around me as I wish for death. Columns of smoke hide the carnage of the destroyed circus scattered around me. The acrid plumes billow high into the dusty night air as the trapeze tower burns. The echoes of screaming patrons, dying performers, and stampeding animals hum through my ears.

I cough. Pain in my chest screams, but no sound escapes. A torn scrap of red and gold fabric flutters to the ground. Through the stillness, a flash of movement pulls my attention from the wreckage as a shadowy figure moves through the columns of smoke. 

Fear clutches my heart, squeezing the breath from behind broken ribs. I try to sit up and cry out, collapsing into the dust. His tall, familiar figure towers over me, the thick greasy smoke obscuring his features.

“No,” I croak as he crouches in front of me and places two fingers on the side of my head, dragging them from my temple to my jawline. I try to scurry back, but the agony is too much. I should be dead. I was supposed to be the one to die.

“What have you done, Little Bird?” his voice is deep and smooth, lilting and stretching at the edges as if amused by this disaster. Of course he is, I think, anger stirring in my chest to loosen all the bits of hatred I’d built toward him over the years. 

“I didn’t,” I sob, and everything becomes hazy. I scramble through memories, a blur of flame and a buzz of screams. I can’t take hold of any of them. “Maddock, I swear–” 

Maddock grabs my arm and yanks me to my feet as a deep, piercing scream tears my throat and echoes through the night sky. I fight to stay on my feet. Tears breach my lashes, leaving strands of fire-red hair stuck to my skin.

“Come with me,” he spits, his striking features coming into the light of the fire. They weave through the dancing flames that continue to devour the thicker stakes holding up the main tent. The once vibrant-coloured canvas that held hundreds of spectators was reduced to sparks floating in the thick air in the dry clearing. 

I fight my captor, but exhaustion feels like wading through muck. “No, my father. I need to find my father.” 

The fear finally catches up, driving energy through my limbs. I flail hard and break away, stumbling backward. I bite hard on my lip to stop the scream, a metallic taste spreading across my tongue. He doesn’t even flinch as if he expected me to run. To fight. 

“Your father is dead, Ella. They’re all dead. You have nothing.” His voice is ice-cold and accusatory.

I turn to run, willing my legs to work, begging my thoughts to clear—memories tease in the back of my mind, but nothing clear enough to grab hold of. 

You know what they do to people like us out there,” his voice echoes through my mind, and I freeze as a wall of dried grass spins up from the ground. I turn to face him through the excruciating pain in my side. 

His hand stretches outward with a swirling tornado of air rising from his palm. Around us, the earth imitates his magic. A perfect air funnel traps us, sending the broken remnants of my circus scattering out in all directions until the ground is wiped clean of the tragedy. I use my last bits of strength to stand rooted to the scorched earth. 

It will be no worse than what you’ll do to me, I think back, knowing he can hear me. You only want to move me from one cage to another.

The ground rumbles with the power of his magic, mimicking his emotions. 

I will set you free, Little Bird. He points toward the sound of the fire engines, bells clanging faintly over the roaring winds.  They will cut you open, dissect you and discard you. 

His voice is pure acid in my brain, and I press my palms to my temples, crumbling to my knees. My thoughts race around his words, trying to understand what happened–How I ended up like this, on my knees before the man I vowed to hate.

The edges of my vision begin to darken as exhaustion takes hold. The wind dies out, dirt and dust settling to the ground, the night sky blinking into view beyond that canopy of dried trees. 

To them, you are just a freak. 

I know it’s hopeless. I had already made a deal with him, a foolish deal with a dark soul to save my father’s circus. 

But to me…

Now he knows I have nothing left—no one left. 

You are everything.

He is ready to collect his debt, and I have no choice but to let him.

Exit mobile version