Eleven tales from the beyond - for the heart, mind and soul.
In Collecting Feathers, Daniela I. Norris blends pitch-perfect storytelling and a keen spiritual awareness to bring us a beautiful and haunting set of tales from the beyond. A feast for the heart, mind and soul, each story is layered with unfolding intrigue, and each one will stay with you long after the pages have been turned.
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The book Collecting Feathers, by Daniela I. Norris, is a collection of eleven short stories about people who have passed over to the “other side”. But long after they've gone, the deceased still linger within the land of those still living. Each story explores the themes of life, time, and death while offering a glimmer of hope for those left behind living with grief. This book is a great read and flows easily. The author does a terrific job of casting the hook, and reeling the reader in. In the first story, the main character, “Ollie”, was finally being released from a mental institution after many of years. Ollie was planning on killing himself with sleeping pills which he had been storing up for some time. But then, as if by fate, he met a kind, old women. He carried her suitcases home, and was invited in for tea. He soon learned that the woman's son and father had killed themselves in the same way that he had planned. He fell asleep on her couch and “met her son” in a dream. Her son asked Ollie to take care of his mother until she passed away, giving Ollie a reason to live. Another great story in the book is a story called “Clockworks”. It is an inventive story where watches made in Switzerland begin slowing down due to physic experiments going on at a collider at CERN. The best story in the book was “Repent” It is a great story about a character named Paulo who tries to dig himself out of a proverbial hole which he's dug for himself. The stories span many time periods and cultures, and the author does an amazing job bringing these stories to life. It is clear that a lot of research went into achieving these great stories. Collecting Feathers is highly recommended and has earned the Literary Classics Seal of Approval. ~ CLC, http://www.clcreviews.blogspot.fr/
Five Stars ***** Collecting Feathers by Daniela Norris has this serene way of showing glimpses from the border between the living and the dead through its eleven short stories. Each plot is skillfully developed, gripping the reader and not letting go until it delivers the punch line, thus teaching a lesson about love, living, family or remorse. Some things run so deep that they go on beyond death. The characters are as diverse as the places in which these “feathers” are found. There is a “feather” about a suicidal Parisian ex-banker in his thirties, who finds a reason to postpone the day he will die, another about a young thief in Luanda who is cursed for stealing a blind witch’s bag, another about a cafe where you were not welcomed back if you stayed more than two hours, and the list goes on. The stories take place all around the world, from Europe to Africa and South America. Even if the events are set during modern times, there are moments in which time seemed to have been captured in objects, places and even people, causing past and present, dead and living to collide in surprising ways. The smooth flow of details and actions portray the power and depth of each story in the collection. It is the mark of skill when a single description tells much more than its words say. These “feathers" are a welcomed lesson for anyone since they bring a sense of balance, peace and humbleness that make you see there are more important things in life than the trivial, everyday quarrels that obscure people’s perspective. Awesome "feathers"! Great writing. Great emotions. ~ Maria Stoica, Readers’ Favorite
Here we have eleven short stories which are very gently ghostly. Not a book for the horror fan these tales are mostly uplifting accounts of contact written from a medium's perception of the Inner Planes. ~ The Inner Light, Vol 35 No 1
This gentle read of thought provoking short stories made me think, once again in my life, how there must be more to just living life. There are such things are guardian angels, spirits and bonds that go beyond the living. If you feel the same way, you will love this book and if you don't feel the same way.....try it anyway. It's a wonderful read. ~ SMR, Amazon.com
Beautiful, thought provoking collection of short stories to uplift the soul and enrich the mind. Well written, very enjoyable read, and I found food for thought (and the soul!) behind each story. Looking forward to reading more by this author. ~ Debi WH, amazon.com
I won Collecting Feathers in a giveaway and received it a few days ago, and, boy, am I happy I did. This book was really good! After reading each story I put down the book and thought about what I’d just read and then rated the story. Each story got between 5 and 4 stars, and the average ended up being just below 4,5, so my rating ended up being 4 stars, even though several of these amazing short stories deserve 5 stars… I’ve just recently discovered an interest in short stories, I used to connect them with school and assignments (school not being a good thing), but for some reason my mind flipped and I now love short stories, so this win has excellent timing. But since my love is still quite new, I do not have that much experience with short stories, but this is what I felt… The theme of the stories really intrigued me, I’ve always had a fascination with death, being an atheist the idea of heaven and a heavenly afterlife seems unlikely… But these stories, though some a bit creepy, gives hope of an afterlife from the viewpoint of different people, which I quite enjoyed. As I said before I did not used to like short stories, which was mostly because of the lack of character in the stories. One of my favorite things in fiction is character and character development and there isn’t much of that in short stories. But somehow Daniela Norris mastered the art of capturing the reader within a few lines and making me instantly feel for the character. So I applaud you, Daniela Norris, for proving me wrong and shattering my prejudices. Not all of the stories spoke to me equally, but all were good. My favorites include A Reason to Go On, The Day of the Dead, Recognition, The Café and The Year Spring Turned into Winter, and, of course, they all received a five star rating from me, the rest got four well-deserved stars. This book was sweet, it was hopeful, it was haunting, it was creepy and so much more. And I know that it was good, because as soon as I had read it, I started looking forward to time passing so I could read this with a different and further aged mind. So I look forward to revisiting this book in a year or two, and maybe I’ll find new favorites, who know… ~ Maja, Goodreads
Collecting Feathers: Tales from the Other Side is a short story collection presenting works that are spiritual, diminutive, filled with action, and satisfyingly compelling reads; especially for busy readers who prefer to digest their stories as short staccato pieces rather than winding, full-length productions. Its focus is on human connections and love, and it imparts these basics using a variety of protagonists, settings and circumstances that reach into everyday lives and flavor them with a dose of spicy reflection; whether those events be as mundane as shopping in a grocery store, as poignant as visiting a child's grave, or as world-changing as a suicide attempt. Many universal messages are embedded in these vignettes, from health struggles depicted in 'A Reason to Go On' to portraits of loss, despair, struggle and redemption. Throughout them all, Daniela I. Norris's lyrical, poetic hand adroitly captures the heart and feel of lives at crossroads, even in seemingly-ordinary scenes: "We saw storms in the eyes of the other patients. They stared at us enviously as we walked away on that grey, miserable morning. Could they have seen us both? We were the ones getting out, they were staying behind. Or was it the other way round?" Does darkness hide everywhere - or is it the individual who refuses to let it go? Each story is replete with some kind of darkness and some kind of light; whether it be physical, psychological, or spiritual. And each is permeated with Norris's attention to detail, which betrays a poetic hand lurking in the background of vivid description: "I could hear the early summer winds whistling their melancholic tunes, accompanied by the sound of a distant piano. They whistled at me, for me. No one else seemed to hear them. Whoosh, whoosh, they would say, and I whooshed back at them, ignoring the loud protests of the starlings which must have been trying to distract me." It would be all too easy to present the trappings of what each short story in this collection is estimably about - but that would be doing the overall collection a grave disservice. Really, it's about reasons to go on living and where (and how) these reasons are found. Birth, death, afterbirth and afterlife are all intricately wind together against the backdrop of tragedies happening daily and how people cope, move on, and move outward. That's the living, breathing, beating heart of Collecting Feathers, especially recommended not for those who expect entertainment from their short stories, but for readers more interested in reflective pieces spiced with poetic imagery and succinct (but striking) revelations. ~ Diane Donovan, Midwest Book Review
Death rarely comes alone. In our human experience, it is usually accompanied by pain, or suffering. Generally speaking, we are conditioned to greet the phenomenon with fear and dread. For me, this collection of thought-provoking tales presents the reader with a more gentle aspect, shading in the space so often perceived in black and white, evoking subtle shifts in consciousness around the subject. Each story in this collection is a sole feather floating graciously to the ground. Whether the context is the unexpected warp of classic, Swiss time in ‘Clockworks,’ or set amongst the garden shadows of a stately hospital facility in ‘A reason to go on’, there is a comforting sense of blurring the edges between life and death, of softening the sense of finality that death often brings to the grieving. The author’s attention to detail in ‘Train’ lulled me into false sense of reality, before artfully transporting me to an alluring state of liminality. Prepare to be taken on a most unexpected journey! ~ Helen Noble author of Scorpio Moons; The 49th Day and Tears of a Phoenix, Goodreads
Despite the title, and repeated motifs of death and the other side; Collecting Feathers is actually a collection of tales more about the journey to get to the end point of crossing over, than death itself. Each of the short stories in this book is completely different from the last, and yet also curiously similar. This variation forms a powerful reflection of the book’s major theme: the vast range of human journeys through life. Looking at characters that range from a psychotic teenager, to a woman who has lost her son, to a sci-fi scenario involving CERN allows Daniela Norris to explore a wide variety of human experiences. The lives that she looks at are fictional and at times surreal, but also read as if they could be authentic biographies. Almost like Shakespeare’s oeuvre, Norris makes an attempt to look at all aspects and areas of human life. Her characters spiral off in different directions, using the physicality of the book only as a rudimentary base of operations- just as real humans use the natural world. However there are elements that tie the stories together. On their individual pathways a lot of the characters are obsessed with death and the afterlife, or are at least very aware of their mortality. Time is unclear throughout; both the era and sense of time passing within the story are ambiguous. This timelessness is a technique that allows people in Norris’ stories to represent a wider social group as well as themselves. It also allows the reader an extra opportunity to identify with the characters. Yet at the same time the characters each have a type of fluid identity. They often discuss phases in their life, or how they became a completely different person due to a mood change or major life event. Shifts in identity like this, especially ones that happen before the plot timeline within the story, are very rare in literature. Perhaps this is due to suspension of belief leaving the reader vulnerable and therefore grasping for a solid character to guide them through the story. In most literature the protagonist does change, but always in response to events within the plot. Norris doesn’t allow her readers this safety net. The result is confusing and uncomfortable, but also fascinating. It is an observation on the randomness of life; something that writers are frequently terrified of. Norris allows for the movement of internal and unconscious factors on identity, as well as external happenings. For example the depression and psychotic symptoms that the character Oliver in the first story experiences. This story is entirely seen through a lens of mental illness (something that dribbles through to frequently make an appearance in the other stories). In this story the major change is internal- the process of supposed recovery. Norris describes the process beautifully: ‘The dark shadows that lurked in my head when I first arrived now hid in my liver, in my kidneys, in my joints and under my skin. They hid where they could not be seen by others, but I knew they were there.’ This is also an example of Norris’ theme of identity division and fluidity- there are three phases clearly mentioned in the story, before illness, illness and life in a psychiatric facility and then the appearance of recovery. Other links between the stories include symbolic motifs such as abandoned houses representing the empty shell of humanity. Norris’ characters are also mostly lonely, and several of them see imaginary friends, ghosts, or outright hallucinations to compensate for this. Yet despite common traits of mental illness, the characters Norris writes about are not usually outsiders of society. Instead they are mostly surprisingly ordinary, with jobs and families, yet still have plenty of capacity for mental anguish. As one in four people suffer from mental illness, this representation is more accurate than other writers approaches of describing eccentric traits alongside mental illness in their characters. All of the stories are impositions on their character’s lives. This seems to sharpen Norris’ words and adds to the story’s fake realism. We enter the character’s lives at a point of questionable identity and leave each story at a dramatic moment that usually wouldn’t be deemed appropriate as an ending. As readers we are given no answers and no comforting finish. This mirrors the mysteries of real life perfectly. Collecting Feathers: Tales from the Other Side is a woven text of people, places and tales that try to imitate real life; yet with a fresh viewpoint that changes slightly with each story. The result is a beautiful and varied piece of work. It is vital reading for any curious mind that wants to be taken to new and inventive places. ~ Sarah Gonnet, www.sabotagereviews.com
I’ve never really mastered the art of writing the short story and I have a great of respect for those who have; added to that my years as editor or a literary magazine and judge of short story competitions has left my appetite for them rather jaded. Collecting Feathers: Tales From The Otherside is an exception to that rule and offers a wonderful collection of stories set in various parts of the world and with a subtle otherworldly feel. For aficionados of the ‘fantasmagoriana’ short story brought up to date, this beautifully crafted collection is enhanced by those essential ingredients of a skilful use of language, evocative descriptions and read-on factor. Suzanne Ruthven: Editor of Writers’ Wheel magazine and Commissioning Editor for Compass Books ~ Suzanne Ruthven, Editor: Writers' Wheel
It would be all too easy to present the trappings of what each short story in this collection is estimably about - but that would be doing the overall collection a grave disservice. Really, it's about reasons to go on living and where (and how) these reasons are found. Birth, death, afterbirth and afterlife are all intricately wind together against the backdrop of tragedies happening daily and how people cope, move on, and move outward. That's the living, breathing, beating heart of Collecting Feathers, especially recommended not for those who expect entertainment from their short stories, but for readers more interested in reflective pieces spiced with poetic imagery and succinct (but striking) revelations. ~ Midwest Book Review, http://www.midwestbookreview.com/mbw/oct_14.htm
The settings of the eleven stories of Collecting Feathers are scattered around the globe - Africa, the Swiss Alps, Canada, Paris, South America… - but there are no real borders to these tales that cross our planet and stray between this world and the next. "Life is full of cycles," says the old woman in A Reason to Go On and it doesn't matter that she is addressing a suicidal banker in Paris, as her words would be understood just as well by Iolanda who visits the grave of her nameless firstborn son on the Day of the Dead, Laurent who meets the ancient travelers of Curmilz, or Sarah as she shops at Trader Joe's. The names may change, the story details differ, but family ties and loyalty remain stronger than death and "truth is beyond words. ~ Gwyneth Box, Poet and Poetry coordinator, SWWJ.
Like an interesting doorway into a secret inner garden, Daniela Norris' stories invite you into a rich experience of strange and fascinating personal culture. Before you know it, you find yourself on the other side of familiar boundaries of this life and what is beyond. ~ Mark Perry, CCHT, C-NLP, educator, healer, life fulfillment coach.
Daniela Norris is a writer of subtle intelligence. While her stories seldom have a twist, each tale has the power to wriggle out from under the readers' expectations. ~ Jason Donald, author of Choke Chain, a novel.
Most of us know 'life on the other side' only as a phrase. Daniela Norris shows considerable experience of this mysterious dimension, and shares it through her characters' everyday existences. The naturalness of her viewpoint captivates and she never blinks. ~ Wallis Wilde-Menozzi, author of Toscanelli's Ray, a novel.
'Collecting Feathers' transports us to a world where our mental barriers and overly constructed stories no longer reduce our existence. It opens a door to another dimension where imagination and reality collide, liberating us from our self inflicted limitations. Daniela Norris exposes gracefully in this brief but powerful collection of short stories, how we are all connected, and how without judgement, evaluation, or labels, we are capable of accessing the greatest power of our Universe. ~ Sophie Parienti, Founder & Editor in Chief, Yogi Times.