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Matt McAvoy
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The Eclipse Dancer
Matt McAvoy, editor

2019 REVIEWERS' CHOICE
READER VIEWS 


Andy thought of flying. She imagined the air under her arms, her hair lifting and floating. She felt her heartbeat separate from the faraway beat and form its own rhythm: light, quick, a dancing thrum. When she opened her eyes, her yard was dusky and her mood had lightened. She let her gaze drift across the darkening landscape. Andy's heart filled with exultation. She raised her arms, fanned out her fingers, and arched her feet until she was on her toes. "I have changed," she whispered. The light exploded into a ring of fire in a black sky: total eclipse. She gently rose up into the warm, dark air and began to dance.

Reviews
AF

Eclipse Dancer, is a strange story mixing reality and fantasy. It is a gritty novel , starting with the memories of a woman who is taking care of her alcoholic mother during her last days. The writing is sometimes surreal and serving a larger scale, sometimes recalling minor events of life with unwanted detail, yet for sure it is descriptive one - the reader falls under the charm of Andy and her eclipse dance. Here and there, old traditions come into view, real or not, and they add a new dimension to the story. And then we have the fairies and their hidden world, and Kenshi, the character that fills life and magic in the whole story.

Avid Reader

I have to say this is an exquisitely written fantasy deeply rooted in a rich, very believable world. This is in essence a coming of age story told from the perspective of the main character as an older woman on death watch with her mother. The author paints a realistic view of aging and youth, with a tastefully interwoven tale of fairies in America. It's often bleak, but always beautiful. The ending came too soon because I found myself entirely engrossed in this story. I intend to read everything this author has written.

Bobb

This book is beautifully written, the prose brings you into Andy’s life and let you feel her emotions. The book is about growing up as much as it is about the fantasy that life has. How a young girl made a better life for herself than the disaster that was her mother’s life. And yes, there be fairies in them thar woods.

Give it a read, you won’t regret it. There is a little Andy in of all of us.

Bronson Palmer

I have to be in the right headspace to read a book like Laura Koerber's 'The Eclipse Dancer.' A book that is ostensibly about caring for someone at the end-of-life, Koerber's work is both sad and uplifting, but the benefit is that it is so beautifully written that it does not fall into a kind of murky, depression porn that many of these books do.

Koerber's prose style is lyrical and beautiful without being overtly flowery. She manages to balance not just the many difficult passages of abuse and sadness with the fantastical, but her use of language is a testament to her ability as a writer. She finds a way to be honest and open without slipping into saccharine sentimentalism.

That's not to say the novel isn't filled with bluntly realistic imagery and situations from a dysfunctional upbringing, but the book somehow manages to balance it out. 'The Eclipse Dancer' bounces back-and-forth between present-day reality and flashbacks, as Andy cares for her ailing mother, and there's also an element of magical realism mixed in, as well.

As the novel peels away the layers of Andy's relationship with her mom, you get more of a sense of how complicated it is. This is no 1950s sitcom. Not only is Cindy an alcoholic, she's abusive, too, and it's heartbreaking to see a child care for a mother who never really cared for her.

The introduction of the fantasy lying just beneath the surface of the novel comes at just the right time, and it is a necessary break from the relentless sadness of the rest of the book. Without something to offset the grim reality of death and dying--which hangs over the book like a dark cloud--it would be difficult to finish, indeed.

G.

Wow! I did not think I would like this book as much as I did. Such depth of character. because it was about fairies and half-humans, I assumed it would not interest me for long but I can't begin to explain all that I saw and felt as I read it. Each relationship that Andy had - be it with her family, a dog, her neighbor, a fairy boy, or a half human-fairy - had so much to it. I've typed and deleted sentence after sentence as I try to write this review because nothing I say conveys truly what I am trying to tell other readers. Noticed a few typos but they did not detract from the story at all. All I can say is give it a chance- you'll be glad you did.

Grady Harp - Top Contributor: Children's Books | HALL OF FAME TOP 100 REVIEWER

Pacific Northwest author Laura Koerber has penned four books in her retirement on an island with her husband and her two dogs. She is an animal advocate, works with dog rescue, cares for disabled people, is a political activist, and, of course, an author – her books The Listener's Tale, I Once Was Lost, But Now I'm Found, Limbo and now The Eclipse Dancer written in the genre of magical realism and fantasy.

From the first words of her book Laura transports us to a different plane: ’Andy was surrounded by darkness and smoke. The smoke came from her cigarette. She held the butt up in front of her face and exhaled, the smoke making lazy spirals up and out into the warm, thick summer air There was no one to watch her no one to tell her that smoking would kill her, No need for her to reply, “Not dead yet.” The darkness was the result of her eclipse glasses. Outside the tiny domain of the glasses, the day was glowing with light. Sunlight lay heavy and yellow on the grass, flickered silver-green on the leaves of the oak trees along the property line, and burned hot and white on the gravel of the driveway. The sun itself was a harshly glaring orb in a radiantly blue sky. But not to her. She was viewing the sun through her personal darkness and her smoke screen. She tipped the glasses up and checked her watch. About forty-five minutes until full eclipse. She was out early….’

Poetic and creating a space into which we all would love to seek, Laura’s story is a gem – an exploration of the mysteries of the cycle of life, our responses, the spectre of death, the universals the bind us all. The story outline provides the stage – ‘Andy thought of flying. She imagined the air under her arms, her hair lifting and floating. She felt her heartbeat separate from the faraway beat and form its own rhythm: light, quick, a dancing thrum. When she opened her eyes, her yard was dusky and her mood had lightened. She let her gaze drift across the darkening landscape. Andy’s heart filled with exultation. She raised her arms, fanned out her fingers, and arched her feet until she was on her toes. She was assaulted by memories. Her mother was dying, and Danny had been dead for years. Her daughter was in Minneapolis, and Alana was up in the North Woods someplace. All of her childhood friends—the fairies, Hairy, Mr. Tolliver, and Kenshi—were gone. Is it true that childhood is never overcome? “I have changed,” she whispered. The light exploded into a ring of fire in a black sky: total eclipse. She gently rose up into the warm, dark air and began to dance.’

It would not be inappropriate to say Laura Koerber is a writer’s writer, but that praise must somehow include the artistry of her communication with her reader. Brilliant! 

Jimmy Rey

This is an intriguing story of a fantasy world and a real world that we discover through the eyes of a woman who must care for her mother as she slowly dies and relive her younger years and the world of faries. This story caught my attention from the first page and I found myself being pulled deeper and deeper into the fantastic fantasy world blending with the real world. If you like fantasy and faries but can relate to the real world and the struggles and pain we face, this is the book for you. The characters are developed and the story will keep you turning pages to find out what happens. Check this one out folks. It is a good story.

Joseph Wilson

I have to be truthful here for a moment and apologize to the author for my tardiness in reviewing this latest work of hers. I forgot I had it. With moving to a new city and starting a new job taking up most of my time this work of hers just ended up in my downloads on my computer metaphorically, 'collecting dust.'
When I ran across it yesterday while searching for something else, I knew I had to appease my own sense of respect to the craft and read this as I had said I would.
I am so very glad that I did. I have read much of this authors work in the past, and for one reason or another each one has left an indelible impression with me. As she does write in both fiction and non-fiction, at times I have a bit of a time deciding which I prefer from her more. Being a non-fiction writer myself I tend to lean towards that genre, yet this work has left me wondering again.
Ms. Koerber has a gift for both. The descriptive nature of this work for me, was so compelling and forthright. At times I felt I was a part of the story, I was completely immersed in the writing which I will say does not happen often.
A magical story that I found steeped in olde traditions, whether it actually was or not, is something else all together.
Highly recommended for anyone wishing to lose themselves on a rainy afternoon as I have.
As for the ending.... well, I shall not spoil that for the rest of you....

Julius Z

A sedative story that starts with «Andy was surrounded by darkness and smoke. The smoke came from her cigarette. She held the butt up in front of her face and exhaled, the smoke making lazy spirals up and out into the warm, thick summer air. There was no one to watch her, no one to tell her that smoking would kill her. No need for her to reply, “Not dead yet.”»
From the very beginning I felt some sadness of the main character, who was caring for her sick mother, liking to drink alcohol. Andy was never really happy and this sadness could be felt, but like many characters in the stories, Andy will have a “light beam” in her life ...
I was impressed by the book I read, I can especially note the author’s style, because thanks to it I could feel all the emotions. This book deserves your free time. I hope you will really enjoy and you will be able to understand «The Eclipse Dancer» deeply. Highly recommended.

Stacie Eirich

Eclipse Dancer, by Laura Koerber, is a story that blends reality with fantasy. Not for the faint of heart, it begins with a dismal picture of a woman who is taking care of her alcoholic mother who is suffering, both physically and mentally - during her last days. But this is a novel that has moments of beauty within the darkness, and gives not only an intriguing account of fairy life - but also a close look at the complexities of mother-daughter relationships.

Through flashbacks throughout the story, readers find out the history of protagonist Andy - who grew up with her mother and half-brother. Andy’s father, who left long ago - was a fairy. Her childhood was often not a happy one, with a mother who drank and cycled through boyfriends while either disparaging or ignoring her. Andy’s life changed, though - when she met a woman and a boy in the woods - both with fairy heritage, who tell her about her father and introduce her to the fae way of life.

Koerber’s writing shines when describing nature & fantastical elements, but ultimately the strength of this story lies in the protagonist’s perseverance and the depiction of real, flawed relationships. At the novel’s end, readers are left with the feeling that although not all was lost, Andy was deeply changed by the events in her life and the decisions that her mother, her daughter - and most importantly - she made.

Susan A. Buchanan

This is a tale about Andy’s many losses in her life as she waits for yet another loss to happen, the loss of her mother, who’s dying from cancer and dementia. Andy is half human, and half fairy, and as such has some unusual abilities, save one, she cannot stop death. Andy has suffered several losses by the time she’s sixteen; the loss of her beloved dog, Hairy, Kenshi, her fairy-guide and playmate, and old man Tolliver, her neighbor who knows about the existence of fairies.
The author uses the backdrop of nature and the woods and woodlands to weave this tale of oneness that Andy shares with both her human and fairy halves, as the narration leapfrogs from past to present in vignettes of her earlier years and her present moments of caring for her dying mother.
Andy’s tale also shows us how history can also repeat itself no matter how much we don’t want it to when we see her less than perfect relationship with her daughter Bangii, who insists on going by the name Bridgette. Although different from Andy’s relationship with the now dying Cindy, the parallels are there for the reader to see.
The story is interesting, wonderfully displayed, and the characters are complex and memorable. The author does an excellent job of bringing us into not only the world of fairies but into Andy’s world.

The Two Doctors Review

Creative take on the modern fantasy genre. I especially liked the subtle details injected into the story, including references to climate change!

If you want a character driven fantasy in a contemporary setting, consider The Eclipse Dancer.

Vine Voice

The Eclipse Dancer by Laura Koerber is a fantastical mix of fantasy and the harsher aspects of reality. This is a rather gritty story as a daughter, Andy, is taking care of her alcoholic mother who is in her last days of life. That alone is difficult enough, and gives a realistic edge to this book. This part examines the mother-daughter relationship quite nicely, with all of turmoil and complexity. Along with that, the author includes the fairy life, and that is where the fantasy aspect takes shape, lending a magical tone to the book as well, certainly balancing out the more somber tone at times. Koerber has a wonderful talent when it comes to descriptive writing, pulling you in with her words, making you soak in their beauty. More importantly though is her ability to juxtapose complicated human relationships and the difficulties of life into that beautiful backdrop. Complex and simply poetic, this book is highly recommended for a memorable read.

William Collins- Author of the Realmers Series

The Eclipse Dancer by Laura Koerber is at its heart the story of main character Andy and the relationship between her abusive and alcoholic mother Cindy.

The novel is full of wonderful and intricate descriptions, although sometimes certain passages do veer into the too flowery for me.

Although very well-written, I found Eclipse Dancer started slow, but really picked up when the fantasy, fairy elements became apparent.

The story was a sad but honest read, both fantastical and realistic. Andy was a complex and extremely likeable character that readers will just want to root for.

I’d recommend it to any fans of light fantasy and coming-of-age stories, as well as fans of Holly Black.

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