“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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