WINTER’S DAWN is a new novella in the Flos Magicae series, and is now available for preorder! A 24,000-word gothic fantasy, WINTER’S DAWN is a standalone queer romance set in a 1920s alternate-universe steeped in magic. It’s my first book with a major nonbinary character (the love interest and Irish radical Winter), and I’m so excited to bring that representation to the page.
Preorder it now on Amazon, to be delivered to your Kindle on Jan 24th
Explore the other Flos Magicae books
Thomas Brighton, a professor of theoretical magic, has been accused of treason. Imprisoned in the bleak Blackwood Gaol as he awaits his trial, he is cut off from his magic and his studies: a fate worse than death for the scholar who has devoted his life to academia. His only company is Winter, the mysterious prisoner in the neighbouring cell. As Thomas’ trial drags nearer, their whispered conversations are the only thing keeping him from giving in to boredom and despair.
Winter is a radical, a murderer, and a traitor to the crown. Everything Thomas fears and looks down on. But as Blackwood continues to crush his spirit and his magic, Winter might be his only ally. And Thomas might be Winter’s only chance of escape. Because if Blackwood and its guards don’t kill them both, the hangman’s noose surely will.
(Content warnings are listed at the bottom of this post, for those interested)
Read the first page:
Blackwood Gaol stood upon an unforgiving rocky jut of ground with nothing but the dark, rolling moors of Northern England beyond its gates. It might have been considered a beautiful place if the scenery hadn’t been marred by the ugly blockiness of the architecture, and if Thomas were one for appreciating the grandeur of nature. But he was far more interested in his books than in any landscape, and besides which, it was difficult to focus on anything other than the prison itself. Thomas knew the place intimately, from its core out, though he had never before visited. However, that familiarity gave him no comfort. Although he itched with curiosity to see the building up close and in person, that itch wasn’t strong enough to overpower his suspicion that this was going to be a singularly miserable experience from start to finish. Dread coiled in the pit of his stomach and skittered around the edges of his mind, both relatively new sensations for him. He had always considered anxiety the trait of an idle brain that only required a dose of firm logic to dispel, but now that he was in its grips, he found to his consternation that it wasn’t so easily dismissed. And it was far from his only source of discomfort. The chains that looped from his wrists to ankles were awkward, their weight still unfamiliar, and they dragged at his every movement. Outside the transport vehicle, the sky was grey with a coming storm. Inside, he sat cramped in the company of nine other prisoners, all of them shivering and despondent, huddled under the bored eye of their guard. Thomas’ breath frosted the air with every exhalation.
There was still another month before his trial. Winter had settled in early, snowy and fiercely cold. At university they would be in the heart of flu season and Thomas would have sequestered himself in his office for weeks on end, avoiding company until the worst was past. Perhaps a prison cell would afford him the same shelter? But he doubted it. He might avoid the flu only to fall prey to pneumonia, or some other such disaster. Blackwood was only ten years old but looked ancient, a monolith hewn from rough stone and stern magic, designed to inspire fear rather than provide safety or rehabilitation. He had never considered the wellbeing of its inmates before.
The vehicle rolled to a halt and the guard rocked to his feet, clapping his truncheon against his open palm. “On your feet. Single file.”
Thomas struggled up, his arms tucked close to his sides and his hands curled inwards like broken bird wings. He wasn’t tall, but he had to stoop to avoid hitting his head against the vehicle’s roof, and the chains dragged him lower still.
Another month. And after that—
He already wore the drab grey uniform demanded by the prison; his clothes and belongings had long since been confiscated and filed away. Regardless of the trial’s outcome, his assets would be frozen and dispersed, his home rented to other people, his position at the university terminated and filled by someone else with better qualifications and fewer scandals attached to their name. The thought of other people rifling through his things and dismantling the careful organisation of his desk made his stomach swoop with discomfort. People would dogear his books and fail to properly clean his fountain pens and they would use that one oil that always made his eyes water when they wiped down his desk. It would be horrible.
Of course, if he was convicted, none of that would matter.
WINTER’S DAWN is darker than the previous Flos Magicae books, and leans into themes of loneliness and enforced isolation that might hit some readers harder due to individual experiences with lockdowns and quarantines.
Content Warnings: suicide ideation, brief homophobia, themes of depression, anxiety, and isolation, mention of weight loss due to malnutrition, animal death.
To all my readers: take care of yourselves, stay safe, and happy January.