The Extravaganza Eternia: A Tale of Intrigue and Curses

The Extravaganza Eternia by Kristin Osani

A Horror Book Review by Debra K. Every

It’s hard to resist a circus and doubly hard to resist magic. Pair these elements with a murder mystery, and you’ve really got something. Kristin Osani’s fantasy novel, The Extravaganza Eternia, opens with a breathless introduction to Leathan, a circus performer indentured to the Extravaganza Eternia, a magical big top that keeps its troupers prisoner in return for protection from their curses. It is run by the powerful Yokiuv who rules with an iron hand.

We meet Leathan, who arrives in barely enough time for her entrance to the evening’s show. She had secretly been visiting a mystic who had promised to release her from her curse, which she keeps locked in a pendant hanging around her neck. Everyone in the circus has these pendants, and they are carefully guarded for fear that someone will see their inner selves. But the mystic’s promises were nothing more than lies in order that he may syphon off Leathan’s lihilim. Her magic—that Leathan carries in a clam-shell-like compact.

When Leathan arrives back at the circus, she’s met by Renni, the star of the show. Renni is also a prisoner of Yokiuv’s, but he seems to make the best of it, befriending the other troupers and trying to help wherever he can. He is much loved. Leathan doesn’t want to admit that she has feelings for Renni. Indeed, she doesn’t want to have feelings for anyone. She would rather keep to herself, avoiding relationships of any kind for fear they might dredge up an unknown hurt from her past.

With Renni’s help, Leathan steps onto the big top stage

And we, along with the audience, are treated to a magical display filled with a kaleidoscope of colour and spectacle. The author turns the magic into physical things, sensations, elements, and items to grab and hold.

Pink anticipation, crimson excitement, amethyst yearning—a rainbow of emotions coils up from the mortals in clouds so thick, some of them might be able to perceive it.”

The Extravaganza Eternia: A Tale of Intrigue and Curses

The energy from the audience flows to Renni and surrounds him in an iridescent halo. He then takes that energy and parcels it out to the other performers so that they are able to meet a quota of energy that has been mandated by Yokiuv. This energy, which is stored in each of their compacts, is transformed into magic—the currency of the circus. We watch as Leathan twirls on the high wire, “snatching stray curls of yellow curiosity and lavender delight.” But when Leathan sees a spy from Phenomenae, a rival circus, in the audience, it touches off a string of events that ushers murder into their world.

This first chapter of Extravaganza Eternia sets up the stakes for our protagonist.

Leathan, taking us on a ride through a solidly crafted world of magic, murder, betrayal, and hope. Leathan is tasked with finding the murderer. But to accomplish this, Yokiuv has woven a charm that allows her to be a friend to all the troupers in the circus. For the relationship-phobic Leathan, the charm goes against all the boundaries with which she has surrounded herself, stretching her to her limits.

Osani takes the reader into a realm filled with fantastical sights and sounds. What I particularly love is the way in which the author describes the magic. A living physical thing that, in turn, is felt, touched and tasted:

“…to scrape away the magic’s slime after-taste
Magic oozes out of it like raw egg
“…spooling the unused magic back into her compact
The reddish-brown clippings of Leathan’s curse tumble inside her pendant

The Extravaganza Eternia: A Tale of Intrigue and Curses

The author also has a real knack for finishing each chapter with enough bait to keep us reading. An essential element in any good murder mystery, magical or otherwise. I also enjoyed the rules of her universe. The idea of curses trapped in pendants, magic stored in compacts, a hierarchy of magicians bound by a central governing body, rival circuses performing for unaware mortals.

The only issues I have are that several of the adjacent mysteries that the author dangles in front of us are never resolved. What is the nature of Leathan’s curse? Who was she before being indentured to the circus? Who was Renni in the past? How long has he been trapped in the circus? Do people stop aging when they get there? If these things had been flushed out, it would have contributed greatly to our understanding of the characters. And, in turn, had us care even more for their well-being. I’m also missing three-dimensional secondary characters, all of whom blend into one another.

And then, there is the matter of Leathan’s curse.

I’m not able to go into much here because of spoilers. Let me just say that I could have used a clearer resolution.

But overall, fans of magical stories with murder at its core will enjoy The Extravaganza Eternia. It is filled with intricately constructed descriptions of emotions and magic as well as solid world building. They’ll be rooting for the Leathan character who, despite her demons, struggles to find the murderer hidden within their midst and through that process, finds a path to a more fulfilling life.

The Extravaganza Eternia by Kristin Osani

BOOK REVIEW The Extravaganza Eternia by Kristin Osani.jpg

Supernatural circus performer Leathan doesn’t let herself get close to anyone. It’s too painful when her curse literally rips those connections out of her heart. That’s why she does her best to weed out the friendship sprouting between her and Renni, the gregarious star of the show.

When Renni is murdered, the ringmaster tasks Leathan with catching his killer. But all signs indicate the culprit is one of the Extravaganza’s own. And the more she learns about her fellow troupers, the farther she feels from the truth-and the closer she is to forming fatal new attachments.

A darkly fantastical mystery reminiscent of The Night Circus and Even Though I Knew the End. THE EXTRAVAGANZA ETERNIA will enchant and delight.

Praise for The Extravaganza Eternia:

“The Extravaganza Eternia is a mesmerising journey through a magical circus full of wondrous creatures with friendship and love as our final destination.”

– Eugenia Triantafyllou, author of The Giants of the Violet Sea

“A glittering tale of big top murder that will swing you breathlessly from the dark depths of loneliness and betrayal to the sparkling heights of hope and human perseverance. The circus is in town! Get excited. Osani’s work is not to be missed.”

– C.J. Lavigne, author of In Veritas

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  • Debra K. Every

    Debra K. Every is a self-described adrenalin-fueled writer focused on horror, thrillers, and stories that make the heart beat fast. Her debut novel, Deena Undone, won gold in the 2023 Pitch Week XXIX competition and has been shortlisted for the 2024 Hawthorne Prize. It will be published by Woodhall Press with a release date of October 2024. Her short stories have appeared in various literary magazines, as well as in soon-to-be published anthologies by Fairfield Scribes, Penumbra, and Hippocampus.

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