Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Just in, a review from Midwest Book Reviews. A top tier reviewer that is read by the New York Times and thousands of high school and university librarians. They only review books they feel are above the 5 Star rating on Amazon. I am very honored.

One might anticipate from its title that Fairy Godmothers of The Four Directions will be a fantasy or a retelling of a fable; but Jennifer Morse's background is in psychology and here she uses the parable of the fairy godmother to examine choices and attitudes. Yes, this is couched in a fairy tale format; but it's anything but fantasy leisure reading, as readers will quickly discover. Picture Cinderella's stark world after her parents died, for example. Unloved and grieving, she throws herself into work in an effort to cope with the loss of love and the cruelty that newly dominates much of her world. This process paves the way for a fairytale rescue - but not before she moves past her grief to arrive at the heart of what she truly desires and wishes to be, in her life. (In this case, in keeping with the original story, it all revolves around the Prince.) The Cinderella character and fairytale is neatly juxtaposed with psychological insights in passages that pair a young girl's changing priorities and perspective with the arrival of a miracle in her life. Under Morse's hand, these hurdles, barriers, and transformations are exposed as what must take place in order for Cinderella to be able to receive her gifts and perceive the truths of her world, and the idea of the singular rescuer becomes much more complex in Fairy Godmothers of The Four Directions. As the story's retelling embraces psychological concepts, scientific insights and science-based research evolves, readers will be pleasantly surprised by a tale that succeeds in the difficult effort of taking a well-worn fantasy and injecting into it a completely different avenue of understanding: "Your mirror neutrons live next door to motor neutrons. Mirror neutrons are activated by your imagination, dreaming, even intuition. When the mirror neutrons ignite they cause a ripple out effect to the motor neutrons. In this way you are, literally and physically, preparing to live your goals by first dreaming them." What a fine way of absorbing psychological insights! It could be said that Cinderella doesn't dream high enough: that her goals of achieving love and centering her psyche around a man are, in fact, self-limiting, and that the power of the fairy godmother is reduced by Cinderella's objectives. Feminist readers will undoubtedly take issue with this part of the focus; but Cinderella undertakes these journeys alone, builds independence, and discovers newfound strengths, and so her goals evolve beyond the singular purpose of finding a man and basking in love. The wider-ranging strength of Fairy Godmothers of The Four Directions lies in its ability to serve as a guideline to translating ambition, opportunity, and life goals from fantasy into reality. Cinderella's growth process embraces mystical as well as psychological and scientific concepts and sweeps readers along for a walk into (and out of) her world. The result is a powerful examination of vulnerability and change that takes the trappings of a well-worn fairytale and injects it with new life. Readers of psychology, fantasy retellings, and self-help books will find Fairy Godmothers of The Four Directions a satisfyingly different approach that succeeds in packing much food for thought into what initially appears to be a simple retelling.


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