Thursday, March 16, 2017

For Moms and Dads: Kasper Mutzenmacher's Cursed Hat by Keith Fentonmiller

(Life Indigo, Book One)
by Keith R. Fentonmiller
Curiosity Quills Press
Historical Fantasy

MARCH 20, 2017!!!

Kasper MUtzenmacher keeps a divine "wishing hat"--a thought-operated teleportation device--locked in the wall safe of his Berlin hat shop.
According to an old prophecy, after Kasper's Greek ancestor stole the wishing hat from Hermes, Fate cursed his progeny to sell hats, on pain of mayhem or death. Kasper, however, doesn't mind making hats, and he loves Berlin's cabaret scene even more. But his carefree life of jazz and booze comes to a screeching halt when he must use the wishing hat to rescue his flapper girlfriend Isana from the shadowy Klaus, a veil-wearing Nazi who brainwashes his victims until they can't see their own faces.

Isana and Kasper's happiness proves fleeting. Years after her mysterious death, Kasper struggles as a lonely, single father of two until he meets Rosamund Lux, recently released from a political prison where Klaus took her face. Kasper soon suspects that Rosamund is no ordinary woman. According to the prophecy, certain Lux women descend from the water nymph Daphne, who, during Olympian times, transformed into a laurel tree to avoid Apollo's sexual advances; they, too, suffer from an intergenerational curse connected to Hermes' stolen hat. As Kasper falls deeper in love, Rosamund's mental health deteriorates. She has nightmares and delusions about Klaus, and warns that he will launch a night of terror once he's collected enough faces.

Kasper dismisses the growing Nazi threat until the government reclassifies him as a Jew in 1938. His plan to emigrate unravels when anti-Jewish riots erupt and the Nazis start loading Jews on boxcars to Dachau. Then Rosamund goes missing, and Klaus steals the wishing hat, the family's only means of escape.

Kasper, however, will face his most difficult battle in America. He must convince his wayward son and indifferent grandson to break the curse that has trapped the family in the hat business for sixteen centuries. Their lives will depend on it.

Book One of the Life Indigo series, Kasper MUtzenmacher's Cursed Hat is a fantastical family saga about tradition, faith, and identity, set during the Jazz Age, Nazi Germany, and the Detroit race riots of 1943.



This is a well-woven tale, which mixes history and myth in a moving yet tension filled way.

Kasper is a hat maker living in Germany right before WWII and although he has friends opposing the building Hitler movement, he himself tries to stay out of trouble. But Kasper harbors secrets. His family is cursed thanks to a magical hat his ancestor stole from Hermes, one which teleports him to any place he wants. He refuses to use it until the Nazis arrest his girlfriend and allow a man who removes women's faces to torture her.

There are so many clashing elements in this book that it's hard to shove it into a certain genre. First, there's Nazi Germany. From the historical side, this is a moving novel, which takes a look at an every day craftsman and the challenges he faces during and after the rise of Nazi Germany. Kasper is not a brave man, but rather tries to mold into society as best he can to avoid trouble. But he doesn't side with the growing movement either, and keeps friendships and connections with Jews, communists and other 'rebellious' groups. Especially his children, who are half Jewish, enrich this historical aspect and make it clear how difficult it was for people in this situation to deal with the growing troubles. Kasper knows the world around him is falling apart, but doesn't know how to deal with it outside of fitting in as best he can.

The other aspect of this novel is the fantastical side. Greek mythology not only plays a role with the hat but peppers in with the world around Kasper. His second love interest, Rosamund, has a close connection to his family curse and ties into Daphne's (nymph) ancestral line. Her 'powers' as well as others in the story, bring the myth world to life while weaving seamlessly into the historical one.

As if solving the curse and handling life with Nazi Germany wasn't enough, the story also deals with the tough relationship between father and children. Kasper's relationship to his children is often not as close as it could be, but then he is raising them with his mother, since his wife already passed away. The different opinions between father and son, the distance that can form between them and how to patch a relationship pull at the heart strings.

Moving from one scene to the next, there's never a boring moment. The plot holds momentum the entire way through, swallowing into the world and characters. During the first part of the book, the children come across older than they really are. And there are moments where the information dumps a bit heavy, making it tempting to skip paragraphs now and then. Other elements, however, were done masterfully. There are hints of what might come--clues almost--sprinkled into the scenes. Also, a radio voice rattles off a daily program, which brings to life the atmosphere of society in a way which almost comes across light-hearted while still demonstrating the serious brain-washing and pushed ideals.

Summed up, this is an interesting read in so many way. Fans of historical fiction and light fantasy are sure to enjoy this different twist and will be left thinking long after the book is laid to the side.

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