Today I’m delighted to be sharing an excerpt from Chris Tomasini’s novel set in early fifteenth century Europe, Close Your Eyes, as part of a blog tour hosted by The Coffee Pot Book Club.
February 1431 letter to Odo Colonna (Pope Martin V)
In Gora, when people gossip about the city’s luminaries, they discuss Pawel’s despair, the ring which is NOT on Princess Alexandra’s finger, and Prince Krysztoff’s glowing potential as a King. Beyond the Royal Family there are two other names which are mentioned often in conversation.
The city’s scholars discuss Ahab and the old man’s theories upon the stars, medicine, magnetism, whatever he has studied of late.
The other name, which daily rings like a small clear bell in homes and shops and inns about the city, is Tycho. Tycho is a lad of sixteen or seventeen years, whose fame rests upon two things – he is the court storyteller, possessing an unnatural talent for creating tales which, even after having been passed from friend to friend across the city, bring imaginary lands vividly to the mind, make hearts ache for the sorrows of fabulous beings.
The second reason for the boy’s fame is that he has slept, or so it is said, with every woman in Gora. Obviously this is impossible, but it is undoubtedly true that he has slept with the beauties of every class – from the preening wives of court officials, to the maids of the flea infested inns of the city. Interesting as well is that far from being shunned, his sexual proclivity actually makes him respected and desired.
I spoke today, for the first time, with this boy. He came to me while I was hearing confessions, and I write to you of this encounter for it has left me vaguely shaken. Through the grill, a young bubbling voice gushed, “Bishop Tonnelli? This is Tycho, the storyteller.”
“Tycho!” I exclaimed. “You want to confess!”
“Confess! No, I wish to speak with you.”
“We cannot speak here.”
“People always speak here, is that not what the confessional is for?”
“The confessional is for freedom from sin, child. It is a sacred place; we can’t discuss weather and women here.”
“Shall we go to an inn?”
“What is it Tycho, that you wish to speak with me about?”
“What of them?”
The gushing child disappeared now Odo, and a soft, concerned voice came to me through the grill. “Tonnelli, I often hear of people, of no exceptional note, who begin to hear the voices of the saints, or to see visions. I fear… Tonnelli, have the saints ever spoken to you?”
“No child,” I replied, growing intensely curious. “The Saints do not communicate with me.”
“Do you think, and I vow that I’m not jesting, can it be possible, that when the saints speak to a person, can it be erotic?”
“Tonnelli, voices whisper to me when I sleep. As of yet it is all babble, incoherent sounds, but they wake me, refuse me rest. I fear that I am unable to understand only because they speak a language, a language of deathly whispers, which I’ve not yet learnt, but each night I fear that I may come to understand their words, that I may one day have to listen to what they say.
“The voices are female. There are at least two, perhaps more, and lying in bed I am frozen by two separate emotions – I feel someone, or something, has been trying desperately to communicate with me, but also I’m aroused. Female voices whispering softly in my dreams all night, as you can imagine, I wake with an erection the size of..”
“Yes, yes,” I interrupted. I paused for a few moments, my mind racing, and then simply asked why he had come to me. His answer was long in coming, and when he again spoke his voice trembled, as though fearful. “Bishop Tonnelli,” he whispered, and such was my desire to hear him that I pressed close to the metal grill, “despite what some speak of you, you are a man of the Lord. I assume you are impressively versed in Christian thought and writing. I need to know if Saints have revealed themselves to others as I’ve described the voices which visit me, or, alternatively, if what I have told you rings of madness.”
And you Odo?
How would you have responded to this boy, of whom so much is spoken, whose conversation was conducted in an exquisite Latin, whose voice trembled through the fear that he was indeed being approached by the Saints?
I gave him banalities, Odo. I told him of the Lord’s seeming delight in cloaking symbols with mystery, and I warned him of Satan’s delight in imitating the Lord to lead astray God’s children. When the boy left, I lingered alone in the enclosed space of the confessional, staring at the small wooden cross which I had long ago hung upon the inside of the door.
Despite my words, my advice that the boy’s dreams were only delusions, I felt fear.
The boy’s words had implied a knowledge of my sins, and though this should make me fearful, the true reason for my fear was the growing certainty that the story teller’s dreams were more dangerous than madness. I have lived in this Godless land a long while, and the thought that the Lord has taken an interest in a life close to mine leads me to wonder if my time of judgment is soon to come.
Set in early 1400s Europe, Close Your Eyes is a sincere, yet light-hearted and lustful, ode to love. As Samuel, the court jester, struggles to describe why his friends, Agnieszka the cook, and Tycho the story-teller, fled the King of Gora’s service, he learns that love was the beating heart behind everything that happened in the castle.
He learns as well that more ghosts than he knew of walked the midnight halls, and that the spirit of Jeanne d’Arc haunted his friend, and once slid into bed with Tycho, daring him to leave – to take to the cold roads of Europe, where he had once wandered orphaned and alone, and find his destiny there.
Close Your Eyes: A Fairy Tale is available at
UniversalLink • AmazonUK • AmazonUS • AmazonCA • AmazonAU
Chris Tomasini lives in Ontario, Canada. He has studied creative writing via Humber College’s ‘Correspondence Program in Creative Writing’, and through the University of Toronto School of Continuing Studies.
In the 1990s Chris taught English as a Second Language and had stops in England, Poland, and Japan.
Since 2000, Chris has worked in bookstores, publishing, and in libraries.
Chris is married with two children, and can often be found (though not very easily) on a bicycle on country roads in central Ontario.
For more information about Chris and his books click on the links below
Websites • Instagram • Tik Tok • BookBub
Amazon Author Page • Goodreads
More information on the Coffee Pot Book Club and other works of quality historical fiction can be found on Twitter and Instagram.
Book Title: Close Your Eyes: A Fairy Tale
Author: Chris Tomasini
Publication Date: 16 December 2021
Publisher: Independently published / Self published
Page Length: 258 pages
Genre: Historical Fiction
One thought on “Close Your Eyes: A Fairy Tale by Chris Tomasini”
Thank you very much for hosting Chris Tomasini today, Catherine. xx
LikeLiked by 1 person