The world of Dust House
A tall tale of epic proportion Dust House and the West Wind is a family saga with, magic, adventure, and love. Featuring artwork by Yenthe Joline, its sure to become a new favorite. Read a chapter below and take a peek at some of the epic artwork that helped build the novel, but didn't make it onto the pages.
Check out more of Yenthe's personal work here: https://www.yenthejolineart.com
Excerpt from Dust House and the West Wind, by Dalila Caryn:
“Ruth would be called Sotsona, a name from ‘our’ people. But Papa’s people are ours as well. I bare the name he gave me with pride. I am Sarah Anne Smith, so he will know me on his return.” From the journals of Sarah Anne Smith, 2nd matron of the Women of Terra.
As soon as Jemma understood the message, the pen peeled itself out of her skin like a scab and fell to the floor. Jemma stared at it, her mind blank. The pen lay in a pile of goo and the bits of rubbery skin it had claimed. Her hand was covered in the same ugly orange goo as the floor. Pa was coming.
When I die, you’ll have to be vigilant. Gran’s voice stumbled around the empty space in Jemma’s mind.
Absently, Jemma rubbed off the goo on the leg of her jeans. She hadn’t been vigilant. Hadn’t even been wary. In the three months since she buried Gran in the cellar, Jemma had done almost nothing but fly, write and keep herself and Maybell living. Now she would have to do it all, or as much as she could anyway.
Who knew when he would get here. There might not be time enough to do everything Gran said she should. The cellar had to be stocked, as many crops as could be salvaged should be harvested, and the family stones had to be taken out and buried in a perimeter around the house. Then there was the question of whether to move Maybell into the cellar straight away or hope Pa didn’t come home in a temper. And Jemma hadn’t looked over one of the family tomes in years, and Gran always insisted that reading the tomes was the most important job of all.
You gotta know your history, girl. Good and bad, or you’re just another bee drone goin’ about your business without a worthwhile thought in your head.
Jemma still felt the knock of Gran’s pointer finger as she tapped Jemma’s forehead to drive the point home. Apparently, Jemma had an even harder head than Gran realized.
What if Pa showed up in an hour? There was no way she could be finished with even one of the tasks by then. Of course, that would defeat the purpose of a warning altogether. But maybe it came too late. The universe could screw up, couldn’t it? It was vague enough that Jemma might never have understood the message; so clearly, it could screw up. But it didn’t matter; she had to do whatever she could.
Family stones were the most important thing on the list, and possibly one of the hardest to do, so Jemma would start there. She headed immediately for the cellar on foot. It wasn’t something she’d done much of since Gran died. It was much easier to fly. When Gran was alive, she always made Jemma walk.
You can’t always count on magic, Jem Beam. You’ve got to strengthen that leg of yours.
As she limped over to the cellar door, Jemma realized Gran was right. She was much quicker on foot when she’d been exercising every day. She would have to give up flying for a while. Well…maybe not completely.
The cellar floor was soft earth. The same earth that held all their crops. The same soft earth her great, great gran grew the house out of. People always wondered how it was that their farm was so fertile. The most fertile land in Oklahoma. Whatever was planted in this earth grew; despite drought or time of year, everything grew. People called them lucky, blessed, witches. And every once in a while, something worse. But whenever people asked, Gran just shrugged.
“We put everything we love into the earth, so the earth gives us love back,” she would say.
And Jemma never said a word. She just stood there smiling secretively at the ground. Gran would turn to Jemma with a bright smile after the people had gone. “It ain’t a lie,” she’d say before swinging away back into the house.
Gran always seemed to float and sway, like she was dancing when she walked. Or she had, ’til a month before she died; then she started moving slower, haltingly. She’d looked old for the very first time, as if she had simply gone to bed one night vibrant and alive and woken up the next day with one foot in the earth.
Using the stair rail to steady her, Jemma moved between the circle of headstones and sat down on the soft earth before the headstone she’d prepared for Gran.
“It isn’t a lie, Gran. I haven’t been doing so well with the farm. Not that I was ever much good with that. But I’ll do better. You’ll see.” Jemma looked around the room At the six headstones that stood firm in a circle, all the past matrons of Terra, save one: Sarah, who had died and been buried outside of Oklahoma. “The thing is Gran, Great Gran, Gran Mary, Gran Josephine, Great Aunt Sotsona,” Jemma looked cautiously at the oldest of the headstones, the one with the greatest power. “Mother Sisika, seems there’s storm weather coming. I’m gonna need a bit of help.” Jemma bowed her head for a moment of silence then got to work.
She couldn’t move the stones quickly enough without the rest of her flying powder, so leaning forward, she began to dig with her hands. She dug around a spray of pansies that appeared to have sprung up from the ground next to Gran’s headstone. After she pulled enough of the dirt away, she ran her fingers under the edge of the flower box planted there and pulled it up. Beneath it, a small tunnel led off, stopping out of sight beneath Gran’s grave. A frayed, dirt-crusted rope hung through a small hole in the flower box down into the tunnel. Setting the box aside, Jemma pulled the rope up and out of the tunnel, dragging a corked bottle up along with it.
The bottle was small, fitting into the palm of Jemma’s hand. It was made of thick clear glass and had two handles on the sides like a Greek urn. Jemma untied the string from the bottle and ran it back into the tunnel. She replaced the flower box. She may need the hiding place again, so she covered it up just as it had been before.
Once the room was in order, Jemma leaned back and dusted dirt off the bottle. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if instead of having to work hard to prepare for the storm, her dusting woke an ancient genie? She dusted a bit harder, rubbed and rubbed and shut her eyes tight, not really believing, but having to at least try.
Nothing happened. Of course not, the let’s make your life easier sort of magic never did work. Jemma sighed examining the bottle; there wasn’t much powder inside, maybe a quarter of a bottle. She would need to make more before long, but it would be enough for what she needed today.
It’s not about the magic, Jemma. It’s about being weightless as a bubble and open to going where the wind carries you. The magic is what makes you weightless. But the openness—that’s all you, Jem Beam…all you.
Jemma shut her eyes against the memory and the tears. She gave herself exactly seven seconds and shook it off. Uncorking the bottle, she tipped it forward onto her tongue and licked up the powder like a sugar stick. Shaking her head at the bitter aftertaste, Jemma set the bottle aside and got to digging around the headstones.
The Women of Terra
1818 - 1858
Sarah Anne Smith
April 1, 1834 - 1869
(exact date unknown/burial site unknown)
"Sotsona" Ruth Esther Smith
a.k.a. Sacrifice of the Women of Terra
October 10,1836 - August 9, 1862
May 1, 1862 - February 14, 1913
June 18, 1888 - November 3, 1936
January 2, 1918 - March 28, 1973
"Gran" Esther Lynn Franklin
April 3,1953 - April 28, 2012
May Bell Traveler
September 25, 1979 -
Jemima Tulip (Traveler) Franklin
August 9, 1997 -
born 135 years to the day from Sotsona's death and the curse of the unforgiven
A magic farm, a town curse, and a man who can wrestle a force of nature are a bit much for most teenagers to handle. But Jemma is no ordinary girl. She has the attitude of a surly old woman, and a painful limp, courtesy of Black Boot’s last brush through Oklahoma, but she’s inherited one special family trait: she’s a bit of a witch.
Black Boot drags the west wind in his coattails, but he wants more power. He wants Dust House. The home of Jemma’s ancestor witches for more than one hundred years, Dust House is blessed land. In the wrong hands its a powerful weapon and the last time Black Boot blew through Unforgiven he left wreckage and blood in his wake. If he succeeds in taking the farm his thirst for power will threaten the entire world.
If she finds the strength to embrace her power Jemma can stop him, protecting her heritage and a town full of people who fear her. But stopping this monster is easier said than done; especially when Jemma’s heart wants to forgive him.