“Close Your Eyes: A Fairy Tale” by Chris Tomasini

Genre: Fantasy/Historical Fiction Close your Eyes
Publisher: December 16, 2021
Pub. Date: Amazon Kindle Direct

In this feel-good, offbeat historical fiction, the reader is transported to the medieval Kingdom of Gora. Here we meet kings, queens, princes, princesses, storytellers, cooks, and jesters. The book’s central theme is love, but it takes a while for this to emerge. Born a dwarf, Samuel serves as the court jester. We are told the story through his eyes as the first-person narrator. The novel reads like a fairy tale for adults, which is appealing if you enjoy magical adventures. I am not a fan of surreal stories. I continued reading, though, because I do enjoy historical fiction. In addition, laughter, wisdom, and melancholy are skillfully woven into the plot.

With a kingdom histrionic outburst, the author’s wit shines from the outset.  In the prologue, we learn that the kingdom’s people woke up in distress one day. “Neighbors question each other about the reason for the hysteria. The most widely believed rumor was that forces of the Holy Roman Empire were preparing to attack our king.” There was no army coming. There was no plan to harm the king. The disturbance had nothing to do with anything political or religious.  It seems that the kingdom had its priorities. What is life without good food and storytelling? The reason for the commotion was that “the King’s cook and the storyteller had fled the castle.”  The novel is often outrageously funny. Another example is when a widow told a group of scholars, “The Greek included passages concerning the sexual proclivities of each animal. You may find a lover capable of replacing your horse.” 

Here is another occurrence that had me laughing out loud. While still in his teens, Samuel worked as a traveling jester. He collaborated with Troyden, a man who stands seven feet tall. The two went by the name “High and Low.” They despised each other. Samuel thought, “Troyden was a genius upon a stage, but in daily life, he was the most asinine dullard I have ever known.” One night they broke character during scenes, “a genuine, and bitter, argument erupted between us.”  Since they believed it was a part of their act, the audience laughed even harder while watching an oddly tall and abnormally short man “quarreling viciously.” The images the reader sees are absurd and hysterical—Slapstick humor at its best.    

The two parted ways, and Samuel goes on to be “the private clown for the children of King Pawel of Gora.” This is where he meets his good friend Tycho, the king’s storyteller. Tycho is a likable scamp blessed with good looks and natural charm. He believes that having a never-ending supply of eager ladies who desire to sleep with him makes up for his lack of affection throughout his formative years. This makes him a fun character to read. The book’s title gets its name from him. “On this night, he said ‘Close Your Eyes,’ and just as I did, I saw that his eyes were bright, were shining.” Samuel is also an engaging character. While Tycho is looking for the meaning of love, intelligent Samuel explores the lessons one can learn from life experiences.

“Fairy Tale” captures the full spectrum of medieval society. Look for a twist with the character, Bishop Tonnelli. Despite not being my cup of tea, the book can be lively and absorbing with its sly humor, flair for characterization, and rich examination of the human condition. This is evident, particularly in the character of Samuel. The novel’s length and added complexity is my most significant criticism. Although the writing is good, it can be disjointed, leaving me sometimes confused. However, the epilogue did explain much of what I initially didn’t get. Tomasini would have written a superior book if he had written this as a collection of short stories or novellas. Still, if you enjoy the genre and can ignore the bulkiness, you will probably eat this one up. Moreover, you might disagree with me that the novel is bulky. Sometimes it is all a matter of taste.

I received this novel at no cost from the author in exchange for an honest review.

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