I met you before,
in a different land,
we talked for hours,
I held your hand.
We agreed together,
in another world,
in a changing light.
I vowed to you,
to never let go,
before the storm.
I would show.
Then we would part,
with the storm at full force,
but only temporarily,
never a divorce.
Then through the storm,
I’d be there waiting,
thinking of you,
When the storm simmered down,
and you entered again,
I’ll be holding out my arms,
freeing you from pain.
This stormy love,
had no war in our hearts,
but we came out winning,
now the storm it departs.
“It’s a book’s life.”
Have you ever wandered at the thought if books were ever alive, take on a life of their own? Had feelings like us? Well, with the latest offering from the imaginative author Ksenia Anske, you’re about to be introduced to a vengeful book, hellbent on revenge. You read that right. You will be swallowed into the world of terrifying pages that come alive, breathing with characters. In the world of literature, until a film version is ever adapted, this can only be possible. Ksenia Anske proves this to us in the process. In the way she introduces each opening passage of every chapter, like expressing a book explaining their emotions, about how it feels from the hurtful actions of a mischievous reader.
Meet Bells, or Belladonna Monterey as her mother, a famous opera singer calls her. A girl with iron determination. Mad at her for calling her a “poor scientist” saddles onto her bike eyes spilled over with tears, she runs away from home. When she regroups with her ragtag friends at a duck pond. A bunch of whiny and whimsical 11-year-olds. Peacock — the gangliest and the tallest of the boys and referred to for his cockiness. Rusty — for his rusty voice, small size body that gave him a monkey-like appearance. And Grand — for his formidable girth, cautious in making choices, with morbid obsession with death, and curbed by eating doughnuts.
At the sight of a giant book stuck in the mud which with an ominous creak, flung open in front of them magically, by itself, inviting them to examine, sinisterly. And that’s how they are sucked into the vacuum of the terrifying pages of a book, later referred to as Mad Tome, out for revenge. Specifically, against the naughty and mischievous children who never finish reading a book, abandon it, tear it, throw it away with such arrogance. Referred to as the Badlings. And so convicted of this monstrous crime, Bells and her friends are punished by being sucked in, to explore or rather experience the horrifying nature of the stories that reside in Mad Tome. In each, the characters reenacting their roles like something out of Groundhog Day, in a loop as they attempt to extract their revenge. Some of which include the Snow Queen, Dracula and his vampire sisters, Bluebeard (with his help Bells and boys are introduced to a revelation of the Mad Tome), the headless horseman. Each after a replacement, to fill in their roles, but also, hauntingly becoming them in the process. Sounds frightening if you were to replace another to live their life in a book, doesn’t it? The question is, what would you do in order to survive and escape from ever being trapped forever, living through this torture for a lifetime? Could you ever leave Mad Tome?
Myself, as a reader, I was constantly reminded of films such as The Page Master, Stephen King’s IT, Goosebumps, The Neverending Story, The Monster Squad, The Goonies or Jumanji. And yet never once did Ksenia Anske imitate these narratives, and so, it remains funny, creative, imaginatively original. Gripping, and emotional too, especially the courageous and questionable friendship Bell comes to share with Grand, Rusty and Peacock and us as a reader. I deeply admired Ksenia’s latest piece of a fairytale, and loved it hugely. Her work remains phenomenal and you will love this new, daring idea.
Ksenia crafts a memorable journey, with the unexpectedly creative twists and turns, one that stays with you like the last, but most significantly a part of yours. I loved every bit of reading through The Badlings, traveling through stories, meeting the characters. Bells, Grand, Rusty and Peacock are a joy to meet. You grow fond of them instantly. It left me hooked from the moment a deeply hurt Bells leaves her home until the surprise accumulating up until the finale. There are many revelations to be experienced and learnt throughout the narrative, which I leave you to explore, question, and contemplate. It’s actually ineffable to express the magical nature of this journey. I deeply recommend that you choose to experience this. Ksenia Anske is the female version of Stephen King, I always felt and am reminded after each of her work I continue to read. Unlike her last book, Irkadura, which I still consider her darkest and most challenging of her works, The Badlings takes on a lighter approach, appropriately, as the narrative demands it. It’s equally wonderful nevertheless. Absolutely and arguably for everyone. It’s a delight.
The true trait of a gifted writer IS to challenge themselves from one book after the next, and Ksenia continues to evolve, her journey as a truly brilliant author and her powerful, inspiring ability to produce the finest of stories and fairytales. Allow yourself to experience and recall some of your childhood memories, and the stories you would listen too. Only if you weren’t a badling, you don’t want to be a badling after reading this. So make sure you read this, to find out what happens to a badling(s).
With the heart of Stephen King’s IT. The Badlings is a must read for sure.
5/5 — Magical.
Who is Ksenia Anske?
Ksenia Anske has been a full-time writer for a few years now. Her very first fiction, Siren Suicides gained her a huge popularity and a surge of fan followers around the globe. A true inspiration for readers and emerging writers. She has offered free digital version of the books, via Kindle, iBooks & many other publishers.
Her works include, the SIREN SUICIDES trilogy, ROSEHEAD, the recently released, IRKADURA.
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The cover image has been taken from the following link below. By the talented artist Benjamin Von Wong. I wish him every success, with his intriguing work.
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A new generation of emerging artists.
Who is Lara?
I’m a 27 year old Lebanese fine arts photographer with a passion for creating surreal and conceptual images. I’ve been working seriously in photography for around five years now, after also partaking in a career in economics. I love having fun with my work and meeting new people on and off set! On another note, I’m a fashion enthusiast and a big chocolate addict.
How do you define creativity?
Creativity is the ability to create interesting and original content out of seemingly of ordinary and unoriginal elements/items.
How did photography happen to you? You seem highly enthusiastic with your kind of craft.
I was very scientifically and mathematically oriented growing up, so I never thought I would go into the arts. I always liked looking through fashion photos in magazines–so in that sense, photography was a part of my life even before I became involved with it personally. I grew to love interesting imagery I would see; it always caught my attention, and soon, photography became my dream. I didn’t start taking my own photos until I was 21 years old, and after that I juggled a career in economics along with being a self-taught photographer. Eventually I left behind that stable career to fully pursue my passion for photography, and I consider it one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.
Where do you find inspiration to create, if any?
I find inspiration through daily life, be it simple human behaviors or experiences that affect me deeply. I think that when people take the time to look around, they will realize that the inspiration to create can be found anywhere, and in anything.
Could you walk us through your editing process? Do you follow your instincts? An intuition, or do you go with the flow as it takes shape?
It actually depends on the picture–each one requires a different editing approach. Usually I use my own Photoshop Actions that I create, and then adjust the filters for every image. Sometimes the editing process is simple, with just basic Photoshop tools like “Color Balance”, “Curves”, and “Vignetting” being used, and other times I’ll add a grungy effect at the end to create some mood.
How do you feel about your work? I’m highly aware your work continues to inspire many around the globe.
I’m very happy with what I’ve achieved so far, but I always like to challenge myself with every new project. I go in new directions and take on different tasks, because learning new things is what makes me feel alive the most. It makes failure not seem intimidating, because even if I don’t succeed, I’ve learned something, so I believe both success and failure are temporary and necessary for growth.
I also feel so blessed whenever I get people reacting positively to my work. It warms my heart to have so much support from everyone.
How do you feel about social media platforms, is expressing creative work much easier or difficult? Is the future brighter for emerging artists like yourself?
SM platforms give emerging artists the chance to reach a wider audience. If it wasn’t for the internet and SM channels, my work would’ve stayed in folders on my desktop or in my room.
However, since these platforms are now getting saturated and being used for marketing purposes, it is definitely becoming more challenging for every person to get their work exposed.
Any current projects you are working on?
I’m juggling many projects at the same time, but I don’t like to reveal anything before I have any tangible results. I will say that I’m still in an experimentation phase, and I have a lot of excitement seeing where it goes.
You collaborated with wonderfully inspiring Roula Nahas (@RoulaNahas), readers try the #TheSunshineDiary hashtag. How did that come about Lara? What your experience like working with her?
Roula Nahas is an exceptional woman with an incredible presence. She is a very determined, hard worker–not to mention how fun and outgoing she is. Working with her was a pleasure–and we ended up with a very satisfying result.
Any message for emerging artists, or those with a keen interest in photography? Words of inspiration.
Always push for your dreams, pursue what you love to do, and be as true to yourselves as possible. Find your own identity in any field that you love, and strive to learn as much as you can. No matter how challenging it may be, it’s all worth it in the end. 🙂
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Am humbled by the kind response of a dear friend and emerging talent, Lara Zankoul who I met on Twitter and she instantly accepted for an interview. In great support of her, always.
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Wonderfully written by dear friend Priya, she is profoundly talented. : )