White Storks of Mercy Trilogy, Formation is a Shake Off Winter Doldrums pick #historicalfantasy #win
Title: White Storks of Mercy Trilogy, Book One – Formation
Author: Joni Anderson van Berkel
Genre: Historical Fantasy
In a world where reality and fantasy coexist, a clairvoyant Sacred Stork from ancient Egypt named Tara recruits a group of diverse females and leads them on a mission to help humankind relinquish its destructive ways of violence and prejudice and instead embrace peace.
Known as the legendary White Storks of Mercy, these graceful birds hold the power to transform into women as they carry out their work. As humans they call themselves the Merciful Ones.
Throughout the course of their epic journey Tara’s jealous sister Reba, a telepathic Siamese cat with mind-controlling blue eyes, attempts to thwart her twin. Will these mystical beings overcome perilous odds to reset humanity’s moral compass, or will they be foiled by the ploys of a clever, manipulative cat and her supernatural spies?
White Storks of Mercy—Formation is the first book in a new trilogy by Joni Anderson van Berkel. Follow the mystical females as they travel through time seeking justice and cultural acceptance. It is filled with magic, mythology, mystery, and mayhem, and promises to thrill and enchant its readers.
Zendala appreciated their efforts but the pyramid brought back painful memories of Reba’s hatred. “I should have enjoyed a loving sister rather than an enemy.” The ancient woman sank down by the mock grave and wept for the first time. Re and Ba materialized next to their daughter. Her companions backed away and stood by the olive tree to give them privacy. Iona took a place between Blandina and Mary. They consoled the storklet knowing that it was difficult for her to see their stoic leader in such a vulnerable state.
Ba nuzzled her suffering child. “We felt the intensity of your pain and came at once.”
The falcon-headed sun god lifted Zendala to her feet and wrapped his arms around her. “Hush now, the Siamese cat is no longer your foe. She now rides with me on the solar barge each night. I allowed Reba on board when she admitted that she loves you and regrets her behavior.” That was not true but as a father he felt obliged to comfort his daughter.
Zendala’s body sagged in relief. He pulled back and wiped the tears from her golden eyes that mirrored his own. She became confused. “Why did I not see her up there with you on the night of the comet?”
Re clarified, “You were meant to see Reba in the solar barge. You must have turned your gaze away from the sky too soon. Your sister was there snuggled under Heka’s cloak. Maatkare recognized her. I am surprised that she did not tell you.”
“She let me learn the hard way.” Zendala cast a reproachful look at the pharaoh.
The sun god proclaimed, “It is time for you to lead the Merciful Ones again.”
Iona hopped up and down. “The White Storks of Mercy need you.” Zendala sniffled and smiled. She and her mother moved toward the storklet. Ba and Iona clattered their bills and threw their heads back in greeting. Maatkare ignored the Sacred Stork of the Bach. Blandina cast a shy smile at the intimidating sun god and welcomed Ba.
Mary approached Re. She demonstrated her respect with a curtsy. He took her hand and his predator’s beak brushed its soft surface. The Scottish queen admitted, “I have interacted with ancient Egyptian deities many times over the centuries. However, I am still astonished by them.” She thought of Heka, blushed, and inquired about the handsome god of magic.
Re threw his falcon head back and shrieked with laughter. “We spend far too much time together and grow tired of each other’s company.” He glanced at the fading light. “Soon I must return to prepare for our nighttime journey.” Mary spotted Maatkare heading toward them so she rejoined the others by the olive tree.
The pharaoh strutted over to Re and bowed with formality. His focused attention down at her was unnerving. She broke the silence by complimenting the clever god’s imagery with his solar barge on the night of the comet. “I saw your new traveling companion beneath Heka’s cloak. Does this mean that Reba did not make it to the afterlife? Please tell me that she dwells in the Field of Reeds of eternal paradise.”
Re’s distrust of Maatkare intensified. He refused to reveal any details about the Siamese cat’s dismal fate in the underworld. “Reba’s situation is complicated. I shall tell you no more.” He walked away. She was dissatisfied with his answer and followed him. The sun god ignored her and addressed his daughter. “Your mother and I feel deep pride that you discovered your destiny and recruited this unique group of peacemakers.”
“Thank you, Father. Over the next few decades, we shall to grow to seven members and accomplish a great deal of good in the future.”
Ba encouraged, “We hope that humankind learns to reject violence, embrace nature, and respect the diversity of all cultures.”
Iona appealed, “If we fail can we stay with you forever on the Isle of Souls?”
“We welcome all of you at any time. That includes you, Maatkare.” The pharaoh’s demeanor toward Reba’s mother did not soften. Re urged his mate to say her goodbyes. The Sacred Stork of the Bach and her sun god wished them well and vanished.
That night while her companions slept Zendala sat on her throne. She removed the cat figurine from her pocket and spoke to the pharaoh’s gift. “It is easier to move on now that I know you love me, Sister.” She closed her eyes and placed the tiny sculpture against her heart. A revelation appeared on the screen of her mind.
The ancient woman saw herself standing in the corner of a dark bedroom lit by a candle. She gazed at a newborn baby lying next to the mother who was covered by a thin sheet. The infant was swaddled in a blanket. Through an open balcony door Zendala saw slender willow boughs swaying in the breeze. A single white Ghost Orchid was attached to one of the whip-like branches. The glowing blossom seemed to entice the waiting stranger to reveal herself.
Zendala stepped forward. She heard the whooshing sound of wings. A huge barn owl flew into the room and landed on the bed next to the baby. The ancient woman moved toward the child. She waved her arms to keep the nocturnal predator from carrying off the newborn with its strong talons. The surprised owl Blodeuwedd rotated her head and flew out the balcony door. Zendala approached the bed out of concern that the mother showed no signs of life. She bent down and touched the baby’s perfect face. The infant’s eyes opened and stared up at her in silence. Pupils shaped like black diamonds were centered in its sky-blue irises. Zendala inhaled with shock and a cry stuck in her throat.
The seer came back to her senses. She exhaled with a deep shudder and dropped the stone figurine. The ancient woman elbowed her way off the throne, which triggered the Eye of Horus on the relic’s back support. The wooden seat flipped open and exposed its hidden compartment. The distraught elder paced back and forth. She was afraid to bend down and retrieve the figurine that seemed to be the source of her unnerving vision. “I shall not keep it in my pocket until I understand what is happening!” Zendala picked up the tiny sculpture and tossed it into the unusual hiding place. She snapped the seat shut and sat upon the throne once again to resume watching over her phalanx.
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What’s your favorite activity to shake off the winter doldrums?
I am fortunate to spend my winters away from the Swiss Alps, where I reside during the warmer half of the year. My husband and I fly like true snowbirds to Scottsdale, Arizona and play golf in the Sonoran Desert. After a day of sun-filled exercise I feel revitalized to sit down and write.
Why is your featured book a cure for the winter blues?
This tale offers a confluence of elements that readers adore, especially on a winter’s day. The unique storyline is filled with compelling characters and offers a witty blend of real-life events interwoven with an engaging imaginary world. Book lovers will lose themselves within the pages of Formation, the first book of the White Storks of Mercy Trilogy.
One lucky reader will win a $75 Amazon US or Canada gift card
Open internationally. You must have a valid Amazon US or Amazon CA account to win.
Runs March 1 – 31
Drawing will be held on April 1.
Joni Anderson van Berkel is a Colorado-born writer and artist who divides her time between Scottsdale, Arizona and Zurich, Switzerland. She is happily married to her Dutchman from Amsterdam.
She was educated at the University of Colorado and holds both Bachelor of Science and Master of Architecture degrees.
Joni studied script writing in Europe and wrote her first screenplay, Bad Julia, with the late David Sherwin.
She has spent more than ten years writing her trilogy, White Storks of Mercy. The first book, Formation, is available on Amazon.
The second book of her trilogy, Reunion, will be out soon.
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