Fantastic Realism?

I had a few readers of A Cursed Enchantment comment on the moments when they thought they might gag while reading the novel.  So I thought that I would blog a little on why I didn’t skip over some of the Mahogany Manor Dolls’ survival details. 

I am a history buff.  And I want to know the specifics of history.  When I read romances set in medieval times, I am one of those weirdos that is wondering how the heroine could be describing how good the hero smells when I know that there was no toothpaste, no deodorant, and rare bathing during the middle ages!   When I read about the underground railroad or Jewish people hiding during the holocaust, I fret about the details:  “How are they going to keep the babies from giving away their hiding place?  How uncomfortable they must be hiding under the straw in the farmer’s wagon – they can’t even get out to use the bathroom!”  I am in no way making light of the torment people throughout history have gone through.  It is the opposite – when you consider the particulars, the suffering was much worse than we can imagine.  We often gloss over the cold, wet shriveled feet in the war trenches, the blistered sunburnt skin of the shipwrecked, the severe loneliness of the imprisoned – but those “details” are in the forefront in the minds of the individuals involved.

From my experience of teaching 5th graders, they think the same way I do. So often, their questions focus on the details: “What did they eat?”  “Where did they sleep?”  “What would they do if they got sick to their stomachs?”  So, I added realistic elements such as eating earthworms and dealing with bathroom issues to A Cursed Enchantment.

More humans today are eating worms and bugs as part of their everyday diet than we realize.  You might even have eaten some insects recently – in protein bars and protein powders!  According to cricketflours.com, insects are 80% protein by weight and are rich in energy, healthy fats, and micronutrients. Many countries rely on insects to feed their people.  For example, in Thailand, favorite snacks include grasshoppers, crickets, and earthworms.  In Ghana, citizens would not survive the spring season if they didn’t have termites to eat.  So when Livie comes up with the idea of chopping up an earthworm to use as bait to lead animals out of Fascinare’s cottage and for their own meals, she shows some excellent problem-solving skills!

As for the bathroom issues mentioned – sanitation is a colossal conundrum in both the past and the present worldwide.  When my husband was in the first Persian Gulf War, the troops spent much time digging trenches and setting up latrines in the desert heat. Unfortunately, the sanitation systems in the middle east were not ready for the American and Europeans’ use of toilet paper, leading to significant sewage problems.  Besides, if I hadn’t briefly mentioned some bathroom issues in A Cursed Enchantment, there would have 5th graders somewhere saying, “Wait!  Wouldn’t humans think it was weird that there was ‘stuff’ in the Mahogany Manor toilet?  Wouldn’t that have given the dolls away?” 

Baby Dexter and Aurelia

Another thing that my readers have fretted about was poor Aurelia and Baby Dexter and how they had to keep quiet all day while the Mahogany Manor family was hiding from the humans.  I am SO GLAD that there was magic involved in helping the babies sleep contentedly throughout the days they were in hiding.  (This will be explained in A Doomed Victory, book number two of the Dolls of Mahogany Manor series!)  Otherwise, Father and Mother might have had to make some of the hard decisions Jewish parents made during the holocaust.  During World War II and many other times in history, parents have had to drug their babies to keep them quiet – and tragically, have even had to sacrifice their little ones to keep the rest of the family safe.  Heartbreaking.  How did they go on?  I don’t know. 

A Cursed Enchantment is a fantasy, yes, but it is also a realistic survival story.  As I was authoring, I became one of the tiny family members seeing a big world through their eyes and trying to keep my beloved family alive despite having so much against us.  If you haven’t read this novel yet, I hope you will give it a try.  I guarantee that you will empathize with this family and feel like you are a part of their journey.

Published by amylynnwalsh

Amy Walsh is a 5th-grade teacher who loves teaching children about what she loves to do herself: reading and writing. She enjoys outdoor activities, especially hiking and camping with her Scouts BSA Troop. Amy also appreciates opportunities to share her faith through singing, teaching, and writing for her church family. Amy and her husband, Patrick, have three children: Bree, Spencer, Liz, and a son-in-law, Kyle. Amy and her family love to spend time together celebrating special occasions, listening to great music, swimming and kayaking, and having occasional ping pong tournaments.

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