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Reviewed by Grant Leishman for Readers' Favorite
Close Your Eyes: A Fairy Tale by Chris Tomasini is indeed what the author promises; a fairy tale but one aimed very much at adults. The author transports us to the mythical country of Gora, somewhere in central Europe in the early part of the fifteenth century. Gora, unlike most of Europe, was still strictly heathen and not under the influence of the Holy Roman Catholic Church, which wielded such power everywhere else in Europe. The King of Gora was determined to build a great country that he could pass on to his beloved children, the Prince and Princess. To ensure their safety, entertainment, and enjoyment, he had gathered a collection of unusual “friends” and minders for the young pair; the storyteller, Tycho, the court jester and dwarf, Samuel, and the cook Agnieszka. Whilst Samuel and to a lesser extent Tycho were comfortable and happy to have finally found a home and acceptance in the court of Gora, Agnes, the cook had been recruited from her village just days after marrying the love of her life. She was promised much wealth for a year’s service but was determined to return to her village at the end of that year to reclaim her life, her love, and start a family. When it becomes obvious that the King had absolutely no intention of allowing his children’s favorite cook and friend to leave, a plan must be hatched.
Close Your Eyes: A Fairy Tale is a sweet, gentle story of exotic times and a period when the monarchy was absolute and ordinary people had virtually no say in their lives and actions. Author Chris Tomasini has devised a cast of fascinatingly diverse and wonderful characters that all seek to win readers’ hearts. Tycho, the poor orphan boy, who somehow has the gift of storytelling but doesn’t understand what his mission in life is and who doubts he will ever understand love, is a standout amongst his friends. He substitutes the lack of love in his early life with an endless succession of women in his bed, who throw themselves willingly at the young man. Samuel also has some wonderful character development. As a dwarf, he doubts he will ever feel the love and touch of a woman, and yet he is happy with his role in Gora’s court, where he is at least respected and loved as both the Court Jester and the close friend and confidant of the Prince and Princess. Agnes, with her strong love for her husband and her determination to fulfill their planned life together by returning to him, gives a differing perspective that makes them the perfect trio to be such close and loving friends. I particularly enjoyed the inclusion of the letters of Bishop Tonnelli to Pope Martin V. The dismantling of the fallacy of the supremacy of the Catholic faith and their acolytes was reminiscent of the complaints of Martin Luther himself and served to ground this fairy tale in historical truth, which I appreciated. Ultimately this is a sweet story of love, friendship, brotherhood, and the beauty of diversity, which I can highly recommend.