May be found on the Kindle Books’ reading list
James van Loon & Paola Bortolotti, Authors
This trailer is courtesy of Hank Beukema.
This story is as old as the first storyteller and as contemporary as quantum physics, psychotherapy, and DNA analysis of crime evidence.
Michael, the protagonist, is one of Joseph Campbell’s heroes as Michael goes forth to kill his monster (The Hero With a Thousand Faces). It is the story of Beowulf, Odysseus, and Gilgamesh. Michael’s journey takes us to a mental hospital in Sweden, a monastery in Germany, tourist destinations in Marrakech, and suburbia in Denver. But, more importantly, Michael’s sojourn is within himself.
Blue Magic Woman is mythical. Michael says, “I think myths are symbols of the collective unconscious [Carl Jung’s term].” Jason, Michael’s friend and the name of a Greek mythological hero, says of Michael, “He … began to talk about stories in Nordic mythology as if they were his own memories, as if he were a Viking.”
Jason adds, “I became increasingly obsessed with what were to become his metaphors of madness, not realizing that Michael’s reality and mine were worlds apart, and that I would soon be drawn into a spiral of insanity.”
Thor, a Viking god, is associated with thunder, lightning, storms, strength, the protection of mankind, and fertility. Hel, a Viking goddess who is half-blue and half flesh-colored, is a mythic blue magic woman. The god Odin appointed Hel as ruler of a realm of the same name. To “go to Hel” was to die. Thor and Hel are frequent presences in Blue Magic Woman, but not as a Norse god and goddess. There are blizzards, rainstorms, lightning, thunder, and verdant mountain valleys singing with fertility. An actual blue magic woman serially appears in Michael’s life. Also, Loki, another Norse god, is known as a trickster and shape shifter, and he is in the story.
Do the Nordic gods in the form of happenstance, fate, genetics, or a slippery hold on reality control Michael? To what extent does Michael direct his life? The challenges facing Michael appear overwhelming. His precarious emotional state shows in obsessive-compulsive behavior, manic-depressive behavior, and sometimes hallucinations. Michael is a novelist and painter. Writing and painting reduce his anxiety, but at times not enough.
Who in realty is the blue magic woman? Beautiful women each associated with blue are attracted to Michael, and they seem to control him totally as if by magic or by a goddess. Michael says to himself, “They tempt me with their bodies and then destroy me with their minds.” How can a mere man resist a goddess? Are Michael’s women the same person or one goddess in different guises? Are they benevolent or malevolent?
Who Are the Characters?
Michael is the protagonist. His mother has little time for Michael, and, when she does, she is critical: “She reprimanded him for wasting time with his art instead of responsibly attending business classes with a view to making some money.” Michael’s father, an alcoholic, gives Michael memorable and loving experiences, but also his father is verbally abusive, frequently yelling and criticizing Michael’s faults. When Michael is a young adult, his father dies, and Michael is bereft. Michael is aghast that just when he is beginning to understand his father he is gone. Michael deeply regrets that he did not try to relate to his father when he was alive.
Michael feels guilty and lonely most of the time over his failure with his father, Michael’s failure to build lasting relationships with women, and Michael’s failure to discover a promising career. Most of Michael’s guilt comes from Michael’s being present when a young woman is killed along the snowy bank of a river near a mountain monastery. Is he somehow responsible? Will the police find his fingerprints on her body? Will the police identify Michael’s shoe prints in the snow at the crime scene? Michael’s anxiety as a result of this incident is stupefying.
The women in Blue Magic Woman are different but the same in that they are sources of anxiety in Michael, they are all beautiful, and they all could be the blue magic woman. Brigitte is abnormally flighty and flirtatious. Laura is generally pleasant and fun to be with, but she may be untrustworthy. Shelly, Michael’s sister, has been Michael’s confidant throughout his young life, but Shelly commits a devastating act against Michael. Gabriella, or Gaby, believes that women don’t get what they want because they don’t demand it. She demands that Michael share everything 50-50 with him precisely. Sandra is an older woman who uses Michael. Mary is a great love. She teaches Michael about spirituality, mysticism, and their relation to sex. But Mary demands much of Michael, and he must decide if it is too much.
There are two people who provide enlightenment. Dr. Bachman is a psychotherapist and a true friend. Teresia is grandmother to Brigitte. Teresia does not ask anything of Michael other than his presence and conversation. Teresia gently teaches Michael about himself.
There are a few male friends/associates, and their main roles are to look at Michael from a rational perspective.
Was the Story Fast Paced?
Blue Magic Woman is not a traditional, chronological, story. Time and location are less important than the significance of an event. Michael says, “time and place are fused creatively, and … time runs in circles, not in a linear march of seconds, minutes, and hours. Time and place become compressed in the way maps compress the world.” The narrative might be a downward spiral toward a disintegration of personality or a downward spiral toward the center of Michael’s being, his true self.
“Fast paced” is beside the point. The story is gripping from the first sentence. It will keep a reader up late, and then a reader will want to continue reading at the first opportunity. The writers tantalizingly drop hints of coming events. Will these events occur, and, if they do, how will they change the story?
This novel is difficult to categorize. It is a mystery, but not a conventional one. It is action & adventure, but not of an active, outdoors type. It is a psychological drama, but more than that. It is a fantasy, or is it? It is a modern myth, but subtly and poignantly so.
Blue Magic Woman transcends categories. It derives much of its power by being mythic whether a reader is knowledgeable of Nordic myths or not. Also, Blue Magic Woman is powerful because the writers have done something that is perhaps impossible to analyze successfully. They have created in Michael a character who lives, who has faults and serious emotional weaknesses and yet who strives and seeks mightily and persistently, as mythical characters do.
What Will Readers Get From This Book?
A well-told, coherent story will captivate readers. The story is brilliantly creative and intricately developed. The pieces fit together well. There is verisimilitude. A reader will know what it is like to be a patient in a mental hospital and a monk in a monastery. Locations, buildings, and rooms are crystal clear, fantastical, heartlessly depressing, sun blinding, gorgeous, frightening, and warm and forgiving.
In the sex scenes, a reader will sense the irresistibility, inevitability, excitement, beauty, and pleasure that Michael experiences. Readers will be able to identify with and empathize with Michael. He is a concrete universal. Michael is finely drawn and supremely memorable; he is concrete individual. He is universal in that his struggles, his pleasures, his wonderment, and his questions are those of all of us.
Readers will get perspectives on life, religion, and philosophy, some of which may be disturbing, challenging, or reinforcing. The narrative asks one of the oldest questions which humans have answered for millennia in various ways: What is real? Michael likes quantum physics’ answer: “only after I started taking the class in quantum physics in Denver did I start to understand that everything is really energy and not the material world we experience with our senses, and that the energy is the same as a spiritual force and that the material forms are only manifestations of something much more.” Michael understands this is not far from the answers given by mythic writers.
A reader will enjoy figures of speech that leap off the page, such as:
“A storm has once again fermented over the sky, and the black afternoon explodes.”
“Rain runs on the cell window as though the glass pane could bear all his tears and pains.”
“the shocked abbot drops the book he was holding. The pages flop, like a bird shot in flight.”
“the feebler stretching rays of the late afternoon sun smearing colors and shadows across the chalky walls”
“Pigeons, like the scattered pages of a novel, flutter around the monastery steeple.”
What more can one ask of a novel?
Blue Magic Woman deserves my highest rating, five stars.