White Storks of Mercy: Formation is the first book in a projected magical realism trilogy and opens with a lovely description of clairvoyant supernatural storks that soar over the skies in the Bronze Age.
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 mission involves rescuing selected women and transforming them into White Storks of Mercy whose mission is to use their newfound immortality and loyalty to Tara to enter human form and promote transformation.
All is not about altruistic good deeds in this story, because Tara’s jealous sister, an ancient Egyptian Siamese cat named Reba, is set to thwart her good intentions and tries to corrupt the cause of White Storks of Mercy, using magic to turn their power in a different direction.
Joni Anderson van Berkel’s ability to capture the magic, moral dilemmas, and changing tides of influence from ancient to modern times enhances a story that evolves on several different levels. While fantasy readers will find its magical components thoroughly engaging, readers who look for more depth will find that underlying the magical encounters and conflicts is a running stream of ethical considerations involving storks, women, and humans in an alternative vision of healing that takes place on many levels.
The motivations and power plays of healers and wounded alike intersect on a broader playing field of adventure to expand the concept of magical realism and what it means to use magic to make dreams come true and redirect human affairs.
Readers seeking compelling reads equally steeped in mythology, history, and revised views of good, evil, and the choices that lie between them will find White Storks of Mercy: Formation engrossing and hard to put down.
Its special blend of magical realism and the quest of disparate peoples to live in harmony provide many points for book discussion groups, making it a top recommendation for libraries strong in fantasy and folktales that go beyond action to probe the motivations and perceptions of those involved in quests for power, healing, and peace.
– D. Donovan, Senior Reviewer