White Storks of Mercy Trilogy: Book One–Formation is a Stress Busting Festival pick #magicalrealism
Title: White Storks of Mercy Trilogy: Book One – Formation
Author: Joni Anderson van Berkel
Genre: Epic Fantasy, Time Travel, Magical Realism, Mythology
The first book in this magical realism trilogy opens with two clairvoyant supernatural storks soaring over the skies in the Bronze Age. They land on the mystical Isle of Souls in search of spirits that are nestled in the bubbles of the Sacred Bach. One unique shining soul is discovered. It is clear that her destiny lies in a faraway land where triangular mountains rise from the sand. This divine white stork will be named Tara.
Events move from ancient Egypt’s Eighteenth Dynasty to twentieth century Portugal as the Sacred Stork of the Bach, Tara, embarks on a time-traveling journey to locate women who are willing to help her reset humanity's moral trajectory.
Tara's undertaking involves rescuing selected women and transforming them into White Storks of Mercy. In human form they call themselves Merciful Ones. Their mission is to use their newfound immortality and loyalty to Tara to promote peace.
All is not about altruistic good deeds in this story. Tara's jealous sister, an ancient Egyptian Siamese cat named Reba, is set to thwart her sibling’s virtuous intentions and tries to corrupt the cause of the White Storks of Mercy. The vindictive cat uses mental manipulation to turn their philanthropic efforts in a different direction.
During Reba’s centuries-long life of misbehavior she befriends a Celtic Druidess named Orchid MacCloud who comes from the Iron Age.
GHOST ORCHID OF SINTRA
For eight years Orchid MacCloud lived alone in the forest of Parque da Pena. In her past the Druidess had spent many years without human companionship. Something felt different now that she had made the acquaintance of King Ferdinand. To ease her loneliness, she conversed with her own reflection in the freshwater pond.
Orchid’s beautiful visage from long ago now reflected back at her. This was the special gift from Druantia. The Celtic goddess had persuaded the water faeries and sprites to honor the Lady of Light by revealing her youthful appearance in the water. At night the Druidess transformed into a Ghost Orchid and slept among the other blossoms on the Irish oak. She hoped that Ferdinand might wander through the forest and find himself drawn to her luminous petals. Orchid’s heart yearned for him and her body craved his companionship.
Today Ferdinand entered the park, ventured into the dense woods, and lost his way. Evening fell and thick fog from the Atlantic Ocean cloaked the forest with a mystical quality. He pressed on in the darkness and discovered his prized grove of redwoods. It was illuminated by the haunting Ghost Orchids that shone like a beacon in a sea of foliage. The sight took his breath away. He regretted the years that had passed without the company of the fascinating Druidess.
Orchid called out to him. “Greetings to you, Ferdinand. Almost three thousand days have passed since last we met.” She stepped out from behind the oak tree and walked toward him without hesitation. Her wrinkled phosphorescent skin glowed against the backdrop of the dark forest. She withdrew a withered hand from the pocket of her soiled green gown and offered it to him.
A smile spread across Ferdinand’s face as he stepped forward. He bowed and kissed the tops of her arthritic knuckles. The affectionate gesture caught her by surprise and she turned away to hide her tears. Have you lived in my forest for all these years?”
“Aye. These tree spirits offer my ancient bones much comfort.”
“How I envy your intimacy with nature. It takes the eyes of a Druidess to access the mystical realms. I possess no such innocence or supernatural vision.”
“Nonsense, my friend. Anyone can share in their world. The little blessed ones living in these woods exist in plenty. They are anxious to play and interact with humans. Tonight, the pixies confused your sense of direction. They gamed together on my behalf knowing how I yearned for your company.”
Ferdinand clapped his hands and threw his head back with elated laughter. “Pixies? Marvelous!”
The fog cleared. Orchid took his hand and led him to the mossy banks of the pond. They sat on a fallen log in the moonlight. Ferdinand stared into the water. Eventually, the stiff-kneed Druidess stood up. She needed sleep. At that moment in the water’s reflection Ferdinand beheld the world’s most beautiful woman. He wanted to gaze at this image for the rest of his days. Her full lips parted into a dazzling smile and her green eyes sparkled like the finest emeralds. His heart burst with short-lived happiness. Ferdinand turned around to see a decrepit Orchid MacCloud smile back at him.
He was surprised and embarrassed. “Perhaps it is time to rest my eyes. They play cruel tricks on us both.” He gazed back into the water longing to see the mysterious woman with fiery hair highlighted in gold. Once more he feasted his eyes on the young beauty. She wore a gown the color of leaves in springtime and ornamented with a pattern of silver threaded orchids. He knelt before the pond and implored the illusion. “Beautiful lady, please stay with me tonight.”
Orchid pointed at the image. “Many centuries ago, I appeared like that at all times. Now the Celtic goddess Druantia has conspired with the faerie realm to please me in my waning years of life.” Orchid sniffed back her tears. She felt desperate for just one kiss. In silence she summoned the queen of the Druids. Druantia materialized behind the couple as they stood together staring at the image.
Tonight, the protectress of the forest embodied a tall and slender crepe myrtle tree. Her strong feet rooted in the soft soil. Her long legs, narrow hips, and small waist became the smooth trunk of the tree. The arms and hands of the goddess grew branches that blossomed with tiny white flowers. Druantia lifted her arms above Orchid’s head and released her petals that fell onto the Druidess like fragrant snowflakes. Ferdinand held his breath as he watched the old woman transform into the stunning beauty that had been reflected in the water. The goddess vanished and left the smitten couple facing each other as if they were a young couple in love.
Orchid smiled at Ferdinand. “Druantia’s magic cannot last. Please kiss me so that I may remember this moment until my last breath.” He took the gorgeous woman into his arms and planted a loving kiss upon her waiting lips. Orchid responded with eagerness as they wrapped their arms around each other.
Ferdinand let out a long sigh. “My lady of the forest, let us make a bed of ferns and sleep together under the stars tonight and forever more.”
Orchid shook her head. “I must return to my destined place amid the Ghost Orchids on the Irish oak.” Orchid noticed her hands aging once again and panicked. The upset woman turned away and refused to look back at Ferdinand. On this magical night he must remember me as I used to be.
“Please do not leave me.” The Druidess vanished behind the oak tree and reappeared among the other white orchids. Ferdinand approached the large exotic glowing flower. Tears of sorrow dripped down its tendrils and splashed on his hand. He collapsed onto the mossy ground, fell into a deep sleep, and dreamt of dancing through the forest with his beloved Druidess, the Ghost Orchid of Sintra.
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What’s your favorite way to combat stress?
I do yoga every morning while listening to relaxing music. When feeling super stressed out I inhale aroma oils, breathe deeply, and repeat my mantra. Sitting at my desk and working on my trilogy takes away stress as it gives me total pleasure and happiness.
Why is your featured book a stress busting read?
There is nothing like picking up a book that transports a reader into a world of historical fantasy. When reading the first book of White Storks of Mercy Trilogy: Formation stress drifts away (“Are these wings I feel?” asked Mary Queen of Scots). Strain and tension are replaced with focused wonderment about what will happen next in this compelling story steeped with mythology, history, magic, and adventure.
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 May 1 – May 31
Drawing will be held on June 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.
Joni was educated at the University of Colorado and holds both Bachelor of Science and Master of Architecture degrees.
She 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. Joni has visited most places referenced in her book. The second novel of the epic trilogy called Reunion will be out in December.
Social Media Links:
Instagram account: whitestorksofmercy