by David Roberts
The Blue Fairy and Other Tales of Transcendence by Ernest Dempsey consists of twenty-five intricately crafted short stories that explore a topic generally uncomfortable for many in society: death. Each story represents a powerful thought-provoking excursion into a variety of subjects related to the subject using a variety of different true to life characters and scenarios. Taking this journey with Dempsey will not only teach us more about death but about life as well.
For example, in Ally Wells’ Birthday Secret, the power of ritual and ceremony to keep the spirits of our loved ones alive is deftly portrayed. Tears for Blood illustrates how one person’s obsession with to avenge her father’s murderer led to a greater understanding of compassion and perhaps forgiveness. The Fourth Attempt compassionately navigates the sensitive areas of suicide and the right to die.
Other themes related to death that Dempsey explores are: when does death truly begin, do we survive death, and death as a teacher in life. His stories will also engage his readers as to thoughts about the existence of an afterlife, or reinforce the perceptions of those who believe in an afterlife. The protagonists in his short stories are realistic and come to life through his descriptive and conversational writing style.
Dempsey does not attempt to interpret the experiences of his protagonists; he allows the reader to interpret their challenges based on their beliefs about life and death. In this way, Dempsey empowers the reader to find his/her own truths.
The Blue Fairy is a refreshing change from the typical memoirs or how-to books on navigating grief and loss. It will inspire in-depth discussions about the many layers and facets of death and how they are intertwined with life. I also see Dempsey’s book as being a valuable resource for college professors with specialties in literature, psychology, and end of life issues. I look forward to more books from him.
The Blue Fairy is published by Modern History Press.
About the Reviewer
David J. Roberts, LMSW, CASAC, became a bereaved parent after his daughter Jeannine died of cancer on 3/1/03 at the age of 18. He has been employed in the addictions field for 24 years and is an adjunct professor at Utica College. Dave is the owner of Bootsy and Angel Books, LLC (www.bootsyandangel.com) whose mission is to provide resources on grief for bereaved individuals and professionals. He has co-authored two books on navigating through grief during the holidays and pet loss and has presented at national conferences of The Compassionate Friends and Bereaved Parents of the USA. Dave is also a contributing writer for the Open to Hope Foundation (www.opentohope.com). Dave lives in Whitesboro, New York with his wife of 28 years, Cheri and Jeannine’s two cats, Bootsy and Angel. They have two sons as well.