Title: The Ankulen
Author: Kendra E. Ardnek
Synopsis: Fifteen-year-old Jen can’t remember her imagination. She knows she had one once, though, and honestly, she’d like it back. It’s been eight years. One day she finds a young boy who claims to be one of her imaginary friends and that her imaginary world is being eaten by a hydra-like monster called the Polystoikhedron. He helps her find the Ankulen, a special bracelet that had given the ability to bring her imagination to life and together they embark on a quest to find friendship, healing, and perhaps even some family.
Available here: Paperback & Kindle
The Ankulen…. This is going to be a difficult review to write! How do I talk about a book that I loved so much, that was so touching, and so good, but that I started out hating and being quite disenchanted with, a book that is totally outside of my usual reading choices.
Let me start with what I disliked. To be honest, there was next to nothing overall. In fact, there is only one thing that I wish was different. I wish that Ardnek had made a greater distinction in her story between the imaginary world and the real. Of course, I have no problem with the wild events and strange, beautiful creatures and landscapes that are a part of Jen’s imagination–after all, anything can happen in one’s imagination. However, I would have liked it better if the imaginary world had not overlapped into the real world so much. I wish the author had given a more plausible and realistic explanation for Chris and Tisha’s appearance into the real world (such as, perhaps the real Chris had died and Jen had gone on imagining about him to deal with the pain of loss). But, other than that, I would give this book 5 stars!
Why did I start out hating it then? Because at first I did not see the purpose to the strange tale that Ardnek was weaving. “Maybe I’ll read it to my kids someday,” I told myself with a sigh. After all, I had to admit that Ardnek was proving to be excellent at awakening the dormant imagination to the point where it felt that I was actually experiencing the tale I was reading. “And why in the world am I only 1/4 of the way through the book?” I ranted after reading long after when I thought this “short children’s story” would have ended. “What in creation more could Ardnek have to write about?” Well, I had no idea!
About half way through the book, Ardnek began to blow me out of the water with the depth her story was taking. There are so many allegorical lessons woven in, not to mention beautiful lessons about courage, loyalty, and forgiveness. And the very fact that these lessons are bound up in this vivid and enthralling tale made them that much more impacting and powerful. I took away from this story the importance of fighting for what’s beautiful, overcoming darkness with the light of God’s word and the brightness of purity and love, and living in self-sacrifice for the benefit of others. Parts of the story nearly had me in tears, parts of it had me laughing, and when I finished the book, I was thoroughly sobered and thought-provoked! So much for this story being a kids’ fairy tale. It most certainly would be enjoyable to children, but is so much more besides. You will come away from reading The Ankulen with a new perspective on life.