Welcome to the Dark Circus

Enter Here for Madness

Not all enchantments are fairy glitter and unicorns. In some fantasy worlds, it is always half past dark and Halloween time. Today is Samhain. Let the screams begin.

The Autumn People Have Come to Town
The Autumn People Have Come to Town

Every October, the Autumn People come to town in a field near Lita’s castle. First we hear screaming train whistles in the dead of night, and then their pale tents growing like mushrooms in the dark.

In the chilly dawn of Samhain day, the carnival’s faded colors become nothing more than an afternoon’s romp with the Ferris wheel and games of bash the bottles.

But at night? That is when madness lives.

Lift the tent flap to see the wonders of Lita Burke’s Cirque du Méchant, the dark autumn circus filled madness, magic of a different sort, and killer clowns.

Don’t go just yet–the children are having such a screamingly good time. Have some cotton candy. Doesn’t it look like sugar-spun cobwebs?

The delicious madness is everywhere. The Cirque du Méchant has so many things to see. Look, this tent sells real lady fingers we can munch on while the children play. Not really, but enjoy the pastry anyway.

A Handsome Carny Wearing a Top Hat
A Handsome Carny Wearing a Top Hat

Going so soon? No need to run for the exit.

You tripped. Good thing that handsome carny wearing a top hat was there to catch you. What does he whisper? Something about wonder beyond your wildest desire.

Why resist?  You surrender only money, not your soul, for a ticket to this freaky show.

Step right up.

Stanley Hotel Estes Colorado

Review: Doctor Sleep

Doctor Sleep by Stephen King is a supernatural thriller about a recovering alcoholic, Dan Torrance, and his fight to save a young girl named Abra Stone from a group of RV-hauling vampires that eat the paranormal powers of children.

The Ghosts Tried to Steal Danny's Paranormal Powers
The Ghosts Tried to Steal Danny’s Paranormal Powers

Dan began his fight with malevolent spirits at the age of five, when he joined his parents for a terrifying winter as the caretakers of a Colorado Grande Dame hotel. Although closed for the season, the secluded Overlook Hotel teemed with specters. They tried to kill little Danny and steal his considerable paranormal powers to fuel their murderous haunting. He and his mother barely escaped. The Overlook was never rebuilt. The site became an RV park with drop-dead views.

Spirits haunted Dan’s rough road to middle age, namely the type that live inside whiskey bottles. Substance abuse deadens his psychic ability so he can forget the horrors of the grasping dead. Dan hits bottom and the filthy dregs of his life disgust him. But unlike his drunkard wreck of a father, Dan finds help, sobers up, and takes a respectable job as a hospice attendant.

They Travel in RV Caravans and Pose as Vacationers
They Travel in RV Caravans and Pose as Vacationers

Abra is just a baby, but her exceptional ESP reaches all the way across the country. A roaming group of psychic eaters hears little Abra. They travel in RV caravans and pose as vacationers. These genteel-appearing predators in ball caps and Bermuda shorts bide their time until Abra is old enough for their grim plans.

Dan also hears this psychic prodigy. One day, Abra reaches across the miles and begs him to help. His last stand with the murderous ghosts of his childhood takes Dan full circle back to The Overlook RV Park. He must redeem a lifetime drowned by alcoholism, and save Abra from these child eaters.

Down the Path of Reasonable Little Events to the Horrifying Showdown
Down the Path of Reasonable Little Events to the Horrifying Showdown

Doctor Sleep is a most satisfying continuation of the haunted life of Danny Torrance that we met in The Shining. Stephen King continues his masterful way of leading us down the path of accepting a string of oh, so reasonable little events. The journey ends in a horrifying showdown that mixes delicious revenge against the bad guys with bittersweet reminders of the long-lost good guys.

Gentle Readers that enjoy a well-told paranormal thriller, plus fans of psychic vampires, would enjoy this story. People who already have a fear of RVs might want to keep away. Because of Doctor Sleep, Lita now casts a fretful eye when she passes one of those lumbering motor coaches on the highway. Lita looks for ghostly faces in the windows.

Doctor Sleep on Amazon US

Doctor Sleep on Amazon UK

Doctor Sleep on Goodreads

Stephen King on Goodreads

Ghost Sumer

Dramatis Personæ: Sumer

The Dramatis Personæ is the roster of conjurers and sentient magical creatures staying in the many rooms, grottos, and byways of Lita’s castle. Here is the guest book for the Enchanters of Sye Tower.

Sciomancer Sumernor’mylnburne
Sciomancer Sumernor’mylnburne

Sumer [ˈsu mər] proper noun, c.3300 BC; Sumerian < Akkadian; also Sumernor’mylnburne

  • Profession: Ghost
  • Race: Human, male, deceased
  • Appearance: Brown eyes, brown hair, medium build
  • Common Name: Sumer (“Summon”)
  • Private Name: Sumernor’mylnburne (“One who summons from the millstream”)
  • Church Title: Sciomancer
  • Native Magic: Mer (water), Causa (mind)
  • Education: Seri Finishing School, Sciomancy Isor Church School
  • Milieu: Ghost Sumer is a denizen of the Enchanters of Sye world
Sumer Penned Beautiful Copies of the Book of the Dead
Sumer Penned Beautiful Copies of the Book of the Dead

Sumernor’mylnburne was a Church Sciomancer magician in the seaside town of Isor over one hundred fifty years ago. Known for his talent with calligraphy, he produced beautiful custom copies of the Church’s Book of the Dead. He was also a natural seer of ghosts. Sumer counseled the confused ghosts of the recent dead to finding their way to the Fields of Yalu.

A flirtatious woman compromised his magic by marrying him so she could learn his private name on their wedding night. She used his powerful magic to steal money from the Church, and then fled Isor and her hasty marriage.

A Resident Ghost in the Old Church Catacombs at Isor
A Resident Ghost in the Old Church Catacombs at Isor

Sumer faced expulsion and a life of shame. He petitioned the local Isor Enchanter School for intervention. The Enchanters agreed to help. Grandmaster Sahn gave him a new private name so Sumernor’mylnburne could return to sanctioned Sciomancy. The Church annulled his marriage, and the Sciomancer never remarried.

The deep wasting sickness claimed Sumer in his seventieth year. At his request, he underwent the preparation for ghostly interment. Upon his death, Sumernor’mylnburne became a resident ghost in the Old Church catacombs at Isor. Because of the skillful magic of his fellow Sciomancers, Sumer was a biddable ghost. He willingly answered summons from Church and Enchanter magicians and had remarkable mental skills for the incorporeal. Two generations of Isor Sciomancers tended his relic cache in the catacombs, and Sumernor’mylnburne flourished as a land-bound ghost.

Sumer Left for His Final Home in the Fields of Yalu
Sumer Left for His Final Home in the Fields of Yalu

A mad miscreant attacked the Isor catacombs and  disturbed many of the ghosts’ caches. Among others, she destroyed the relic that kept Sumer tethered to the earthly realm.

The Isor Sciomancers were unable to restore Sumer’s relic. As per protocol, the local Church erected a proper tomb in the Old Burial Yard, placed what remained of Sumer inside, and performed the rites to send for his ghost. Sumernor’mylnburne responded this last time, conversed a while with his former colleagues, and then left for his last home in the Fields of Yalu.

Visit some more with Ghost Sumernor’mylnburne in these Enchanter of Sye stories:

Amaryllis

Review: The Blue Amaryllis

The Amazon Rainforest is the Third Main Character
The Amazon Rainforest is the Third Main Character

The Blue Amaryllis by Sonia De Leon is a contemporary romance about Leia, a young woman who flees into the Amazon rainforest to heal her grief.

Chicago native Leia is heartbroken from the recent death of her mother. Her college professor invites Leia to visit the Amazon Matis tribe. Each backcountry checkpoint strips away layers of civilization. Soon, Leia is alone and facing a five-mile hike from her last drop off point. Nightfall, and a frightening chase by a fearsome native, spurs Leia into an all-out race for her life. She arrives at the Matis encampment and collapses at the feet of a handsome man named Tanun.

Leia Learns What is Truly Important From the Matis
Leia Learns What is Truly Important From the Matis

Leia must peel away the emotional barriers of her lonely life. She learns what is truly important from the wise Matis people.

Her culture shock at the natives’ nakedness becomes fascination with their loving and dignified way of life. Leia’s mutual attraction to Tanun evolves into an impossible love that the Matis strict rules cannot honor. After two months, Leia must leave behind her life with these gentle people, and abandon her soul mate Tanun.

Wrinkle Your Nose at the Earthy Reek of Jaguar Scat
Wrinkle Your Nose at the Earthy Reek of Jaguar Scat

The Blue Amaryllis is a luscious story. In addition to Leia and Tanun, the Amazon rainforest is the third main character in this cross-culture romance. The descriptions of the plants and animals became so real, Lita felt the sticky cling of Leia’s sweaty blouse and heard the bellows of water animals. Sonia De Leon used a deft hand bringing Leia’s emotions to life. Tanun was so well chronicled, well, Lita fell in love with him also.

Romance fans looking for a journey through a woman’s emotional desert into loving a worthy man would enjoy The Blue Amaryllis. For Gentle Readers who love immersive worlds, this well-drawn gem of a tale will have you marveling at the exotic scent of orchids and also wrinkling your nose at the earthy reek of jaguar scat.

The Blue Amaryllis on Amazon US

The Blue Amaryllis on Amazon UK

The Blue Amaryllis on Goodreads

Sonia De Leon on Goodreads

Dragonette and Snake

Necronomicon Enchanter: Alternate Essence

Within the pages of the Necronomicon Enchanter book in Lita’s library, the curious may learn the Enchanters’ magical matters. Beware, for the knowledge might drive the reader mad with bitter desire and luscious regret.

Previously:

Some of Sye’s wild plants still produce magical power. These sources are weak compared to the potent essence that the Old Forest trees produce for the Enchanters’ consumption. The essence plants grow in the central highlands. Magically dependent animals, such as dragonettes, eat the magic plants to get their essence.

Tame Dragonettes Take Magical Essence From Enchanters
Tame Dragonettes Take Magical Essence From Enchanters

Except for a few abandoned experiments that yielded poor results, magical essence is only available for Sye’s human population via the Enchanters. Tame dragonettes live in the cities under the care of magicians who have a ready supply of Enchanter essence.

City-dwelling dragonettes no longer need to eat essence. They absorb it through skin contact with their human masters.

Magically satiated tame dragonettes can converse in simple sentences and are affectionate with dragonette keepers, and of course, with all Enchanters. The tame dragonettes like to gather in small groups on rooftops, sunbathe, and talk about their preferences for tasty fish and plants. Their multi-colored scales glisten like jewels in the sunshine.

Next Time: Clergy Secrets

Find out more about the Enchanters, Sciomancers, and their ongoing struggles in the books from the Enchanters of Sye world:

Enchanters Today

Necronomicon Enchanter: Sye’s Magic Today

Within the pages of the Necronomicon Enchanter book in Lita’s library, the curious may learn the Enchanters’ magical matters. Beware, for the knowledge might drive the reader mad with bitter desire and luscious regret.

Previously:

The sensual Enchanters and moralistic Church magicians share an uneasy interdependence in Sye today. The Enchanters’ ability to create essence has grown until they are the most powerful magicians in Sye.

Enchanters Are the Most Powerful Magicians in Sye
Enchanters Are the Most Powerful Magicians in Sye

Church magicians’ craft has also grown. The Sciomancers’ magical care of ghosts and afterlife matters are a strong counterpart to the Enchanters’ earthy pursuits.

Tensions have escalated since the current head Church magician, His Divine, took office. Early in his tenure, His Divine enacted the élite Enforcers.

By weaving spells to find the Uslar rings that only Enchanters wore, Church Enforcer Magicians used harsh measures to steal Enchanter essence. Enforcer persecution included harassment, kidnapping, and torture. Early Enforcers penetrated the Healer’s School and sabotaged one of the foundation spells. The ten Enchanter Grandmasters were able to correct the damage. To prevent other opportunistic Enforcers from entering the schools disguised as students, the Enchanters stopped teaching secular magic craft such as charm making, and spells that produce fire, water, wind, or soil.

An Enchanter With an Uslar Ring and Wearing a Personal Protection Charm
An Enchanter With an Uslar Ring and Wearing a Personal Protection Charm

After banishing the Magic Guild and Church magicians from the five schools, the Enchanters created myriad personal protection charms to thwart Enforcer magic when the Enchanters were outside the school walls. In a drastic measure to protect the fragile Enchanter spells, the Grandmasters forbade all but Enchanter Consents from entering the schools.

The Magic Guild is the go-between for the Enchanters and the Church. Only a quarter of the guild magicians have Enchanter Consent. The rest see to the magical dealings of the Merchant Guild and other non-Enchanter magical interests. Some non-magical guild members have Enchanter Consent, and these people must wear an insignia on their guild uniform that identifies their relationship with the Enchanters.

Next Time: Alternate Essence

Find out more about the Enchanters, Sciomancers, and their ongoing struggles in the books in the Enchanters of Sye world:

Ruins of an Old Church Destroyed During the Spanish Civil War

Review: The Guardian of Secrets: And Her Deathly Pact

The Guardian of Secrets: And Her Deathly Pact by Jana Petken is a family saga detailing the lives of María Martinéz de Amo’s kin.

Celia Lives on the Prosperous Merrill Farm in Kent
Celia Lives on the Prosperous Merrill Farm in Kent

Told through a series of narratives from her family’s journals, María’s story spans two generations. As all properly told stories should go, the tale starts at the beginning.

María’s young mother Celia lives on the prosperous Merrill Farm in Kent, England with her father Peter. It is Celia who first starts writing journals to chronicle her life. Both Celia and Peter are quite taken with a handsome and charming visitor named Joseph Dobbs, and within a short time Celia marries Joseph, and Peter makes his son-in-law the heir to Merrill Farm.

Joseph is not what he seems. He is a drinker and a gambler. His destructive and spiteful ways are a dark thread throughout Celia’s life.

Celia flees to Valencia and Starts a Better Life
Celia flees to Valencia and Starts a Better Life

Celia flees to the orange groves of Valencia, Spain with her infant son and starts a better life. She marries Ernesto, the wealthy owner of La Glorieta estate. Despite loving Ernesto and having a family (which includes María and her twin sister Marta), it is the early 1900s and civil war consumes Spain. Ernesto and Celia go into exile in London while María, along with her siblings and friends, stay in Spain.

What follows is a fascinating and detailed story of María’s war experiences. Some events are oh so sweet, while the brutality and injustice of other events are an outrage. Jana Petken did a splendid job with the interesting narrative about Spain’s civil war—no boring history book here. Sometimes the characters made poor decisions or took ill-advised actions.  Lita wanted to give them a good talking to and set them straight—that is the greatest fun of reading well-written fiction. The outcome of Joseph’s last revengeful stand is satisfying, to say the least.

Gentle Readers who enjoy settling in with a long story about an interesting family would enjoy The Guardian of Secrets: And Her Deathly Pact. Just don’t join Joseph in a game of poker. The stakes are murderously high.

The Guardian of Secrets: And Her Deathly Pact on Amazon US

The Guardian of Secrets: And Her Deathly Pact on Amazon UK

The Guardian of Secrets: And Her Deathly Pact on Goodreads

Jana Petken on Goodreads

Jana Petken website and blog

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