Promo: Floats the Dark Shadow by Yves Fey

I'm thrilled to share an excerpt from Floats the Dark Shadow, a mystery set during the Belle Epoque in Paris, by historical fiction author, Yves Fey.

It's currently on blog tour with The Coffee Pot Book Club. Find details of the tour here!

I find the era utterly fascinating, so I bought a Kindle copy of the novel. I'll be posting my review of it in due course.

The excerpt I'm sharing is about the fire at the Bazar de la Charité, a tragic event I wrote a short story about last year. It was heartbreaking event where many women and children in particular perished in the fire that was spreading fast through the stalls. I hope you find this excerpt as gripping as I did.

Floats the Dark Shadow

The Paris Trilogy

Yves Fey

The Charity Bazaar Fire

Huge sound erupted in the bazaar. A violent explosion silenced the chatter of voices, the clatter of coins. Within that thundering silence, a concussion of air shoved Theo forward. She fell but caught herself by clutching the edge of the booth. The front of paper mache caved under her grip, and she scrambled for another hold. Regaining her footing, she glimpsed light and spun around. Sheets of orange flame were racing up the velvet curtains of the projection booth. Dark smoke coiled. Even as she watched, the fire sent blazing tendrils along the streamers of crepe paper and silk banners that fluttered above the booth of laces and leapt to the canvas ceiling.

“Fire!” a voice cried out a warning.

“Fire! Fire! Fire!” Screams rose all around her. She felt the surge of terror like another explosion. It stunned her with its power. Hordes of people raced down the aisle toward the entrance. Theo watched, mesmerized, as the flames glided along the ceiling toward them. She dragged her gaze away. Time was moving slow as cold molasses, but she knew there was none to spare. The booths were nothing but luscious tinder for the conflagration to devour. What had happened? Pressed against the side wall of this booth, she could no longer see the room that held the projector. That whole corner of the building was aflame. She remembered the slow turnstile that reluctantly released one person at a time.

Screams. Shouts. Curses. Fear and rage rose like flames from the crowd thundering past. A woman supporting her elderly mother was knocked aside by a man. They fell to the floor in front of him and he trampled over them. The crowd followed, oblivious in their panic. Theo moved to help them, but already they were invisible. The crazed rush pushed her toward the door, where the crowd jammed together in a seething mass

Hot, sharp pain slashed her back. Theo cried out in terror. Glancing back, she saw it was not the fire but a man with a cane. Snarling with rage, he hit her again, cutting her cheek. Then someone rammed him from behind and his fall shoved her forward. Theo dove even as she fell and landed sliding on a table of pamphlets. The man who had struck her lay screaming on the floor as the mob stampeded over him. Shaking, Theo pulled her feet under her, stood atop the table and looked around. Geysers of flame rose from the tops of the booths and poured through their flimsy walls. Overhead, patches of fire spread along the ceiling. Like huge birds of prey, they opened scarlet wings, then plummeted to seize their prey in burning talons.

She saw a woman with a bright red boa, not of feathers but living flames that wrapped around her neck. Theo wanted to scream, but she swallowed back her cry. Somehow the screams rising around quieted her—as if they all were screaming for her. She did not need to scream.

She needed to escape.

Calm wrapped her, strangely cool in the dreadful heat. She watched the men beating their ways to the forefront of the crowd. Their canes rose and fell as they struck each other and any woman who dared cross their path. If she had a cane, she’d beat the cowards herself. Anyone who fell was crushed underfoot. The pile of bodies was growing, and the men were climbing over a heap of women and children to get through the narrow admission door.

Fear and fury both urged her forward, but Theo did not move. She’d be burned alive before she could fight her way through that stampede. She scanned the burning walls. There must be another exit, but she could not find it. She felt the screams inside her beating like trapped birds against the thin wall of her control. Some of the crowd knelt and prayed, hope already incinerated. Her gaze was riveted by the Duchess sitting rigid in her burning booth. A man bowed before her, beseeching. Was she too terrified to move? No, Theo saw the knowledge of death in her face, and a grim determination. She said something to the man. He flung up his hands in despair, then whirled and vanished into crowd.

“Theo! Theo!” At first it was a scream like all the other screams. Then it was her name. It was Mélanie, carrying a little girl along the edge of the crowd.

“Mélanie,” Theo called as her friend maneuvered through a collapsing booth.

Reaching the table, Mélanie thrust the girl into Theo’s arms. “Save her!”

Theo wrapped her arms tightly around the child’s back. The little girl locked her legs around Theo’s waist and her arms around her neck. Mélanie saw her safe in Theo’s grasp then turned back into the sea of chaos and fire. Theo did scream then. “Come back!”

“They are blind! They are trapped!” Mélanie let the press of the crowd carry her back toward the charity booth. Theo glimpsed a woman inside, crouched on the floor, her arms spread over a dozen little children. Then flames from a burning booth between them leapt up to block her view.

The terrified crowd crashed against the table. Holding onto the little girl, Theo struggled to keep her balance. She steadied herself against the edge of the wall but didn’t trust it to hold her. She heard a sob against her shoulder. “I’m Theo.” She pitched her voice low, hoping the sound would carry under the screams of the crowd and the insane crackle of the flames. “What’s your name?”

“Alicia.” The girl trembled against her but did not panic. She gripped Theo tighter and gave another sob. Was her blindness a blessing or a terrifying curse amid the screams and crackling flames?  

Theo searched frantically for an escape route but found only horror. The ceiling was a river of fire. Heat scorched her lungs with every breath. Choking smoke clogged the air. Dark shadows fell—chunks of the tarred canvas ceiling that clung to whomever they touched. A black smoldering cloak covered a man completely. He staggered into a burning booth and fell thrashing to the ground. Fire danced up the dangling ribbons of a woman’s straw hat. She snatched at her hatpins with white gloved hands, then lifted them burning from the great wheel of fire swirling around her head.

Theo heard a loud crack. Another booth disintegrating? No. At the far end of the aisle, she saw an axe split an opening high on the wall. Hope surged through her, more desperate than fear. She clambered off the table, clutching Alicia close. “Hold tight!”

Grabbing a chair, Theo knocked through the crumbling walls of two burning booths. The next would not give way. There was no way left but the aisle. Theo plunged into the seething crowd, shoving fiercely against their forward press. For an instant the black smoke parted and she could see the hole. The crack of the axe came again, the split widened. A cry went up, and the tide of the crowd swerved for the breach. Theo ran with them, choking and coughing with every breath, fighting to keep her balance against the violent shoves from behind. Flames burned up all around them, consuming the last wreckage of the booths.



Young American painter Theodora Faraday struggles to become an artist in Belle Époque Paris. She’s tasted the champagne of success, illustrating poems for the Revenants, a group of poets led by her adored cousin, Averill. 


When children she knows vanish mysteriously, Theo confronts Inspecteur Michel Devaux who suspects the Revenants are involved. Theo refuses to believe the killer could be a friend—could be the man she loves. Classic detection and occult revelation lead Michel and Theo through the dark underbelly of Paris, from catacombs to asylums, to the obscene ritual of a Black Mass. 


Following the maze of clues they discover the murderer believes he is the reincarnation of the most evil serial killer in the history of France—Gilles de Rais. Once Joan of Arc’s lieutenant, after her death he plunged into an orgy of evil. The Church burned him at the stake for heresy, sorcery, and the depraved murder of hundreds of peasant children. 


Whether deranged mind or demonic passion incite him, the killer must be found before he strikes again.

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About the Author:

Yves Fey

Yves Fey has MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Oregon, and a BA in Pictorial Arts from UCLA. Yves began drawing as soon as she could hold a crayon and writing at twelve.  

She’s been a tie dye artist, go-go dancer, creator of ceramic beasties, writing teacher, illustrator, and has won prizes for her chocolate desserts. Her current obsession is creating perfumes inspired by her Parisian characters. 


Yves lives in Albany with her mystery writer husband and their cats, Charlotte and Emily, the Flying Bronte Sisters.

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Instagram: Gayle Feyrer (@yves_fey) • Instagram photos and videos


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