Tuesday, June 30, 2015

C.S. Lakin and Hidden Kingdom (a book review)

The Hidden KingdomThe Hidden Kingdom by C. S. Lakin
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Any reader fairly well versed in fairy tales, myths and legends will immediately find C.S. Lakin's, The Hidden Kingdom exceptionally well written and welcoming. Imagine you're in a great national forest and you find a hidden trailhead from the side of the main road that you could swear wasn't there before when you visited. Winds whisper so many ethereal secrets through the tall tree branches. Birds sing. You hear Lakin's voice, the storyteller, inviting you into her impeccably created world and you can't resist. You just know this is going to be great fun:

The mat of dry silver leaves crunched under Meris’s feet
as she tromped along the winding path to the spring. She
loved this part of the woods and this time of year, when the
shimmering round leaves of the quaking firth trees rang out like
tinkling chimes, filling the hollow with glitters of song. The fireflies
were thicker here, drawn to the music and adding their own
tinny, high-pitched shrilling. As she set down the heavy clay urn,
they circled her head in a flicker of bright light that rivaled the pale
dome of pink sky overhead—although the sky seemed awfully dim
this morning, and the wind colder than usual.

It's difficult to find on the page anymore a make believe fairy tale world so complete and so time honored true to the genre at its legendary best as you will find between the covers of The Hidden Kingdom. C.S. Lakin's masterful culmination of The Gates of Heaven Series almost exceeds mere mortal expectations and nods divinely as James Joyce eloquently said when The Muse runs open at full throttle as it does for Lakin in this book:

The artist, like the God of the creation, remains within or behind or beyond or above his handiwork, invisible, refined out of existence, indifferent, paring his fingernails.

In other words, it's almost impossible to find the author's voice in this text, so well crafted with mores, magic, and crisp detail not to mention pithy use of omniscient third person. For example, in this scene the magic seeking Meris' father, Ta'sus embarks on a dangerous journey for his daughter's sake:

Ta’sus shook his head. The way out of the hidden kingdom had
always been a stone’s throw away. Right there, under their noses.
Why had he never sensed it? For that matter, why had he never
thought there might be more—more world, more life, more to
existence than what he knew and saw and experienced? But why
would anyone suspect an unseen world beyond that one they experienced
from day to day? How would anyone know of such a thing
unless it was told or shown to them?

Indeed, gentle reader, Lakin will point out the unseen other-world that we swim in like proverbial fish without awareness in a way that deserves a standing ovation in the final book of this magnum opus. Once you recover from Lakin's amazingly simple, yet brilliantly and originally recreated ending, her literary acknowledgements make perfect sense. G.K. Chesterton and Roger Zelazny pull out a seat at the table for C.S. Lakin, because as she writes at the end of her book in the afterword:

I believe... that one day all those riddles will be
answered to our satisfaction. But, in the meantime, we have to be
content with the mystery.

And in the end, it's the mysterious power of C.S. Lankin's, Hidden Kingdom that contents the reader.

Check out Conrad Johnson's website for more @ www.writersalive.com

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