An ancient religion grotesquely modernized, The Purpose, deifies children for their deformities—a beautiful girl with three arms, a brave boy with one eye… the exceptional list goes on. Painted and costumed, they are worshiped on stage. Shy and exposed, they are ridiculed in the streets, often by the same faces. Glorious or repulsive? Gods or freaks? How deep will the identity divide be dredged, and to which side will the truth finally tip? Out of the city, through strange forests and dark dreams, we follow six young friends as they chase their answer. Lightning-lit and pulling moon into mountain, it awaits them at the top of the world.
Author Jeffrey Kinsey is a native of Jacksonville Florida, and a settler in Charleston, South Carolina. He makes cool stuff with his wife, Amelia Dreglewicz, goes for long walks by the water, and has a heavy interest in the dynamic, graceful and inventive interface of prose and visual art.
It’s that interface that takes center stage in “Areh” – a book that combines prose and art. That may sound like nothing new, but “Areh” is something unique – a book that places equal importance on both aspects, binding them together to create a memorable, special, and beautiful tome that, even when reading on an ereader, brings a story to life in vivid, colourful detail.
Set in a dark and trouble society, the book becomes a race against time to prevent a terrible catastrophe befalling the land. However, whilst there is a definite sense of pace to the story, the use of poetic, flowing language makes this a read that manages to be both timeless and current – the sometimes epic art lending it a feel of myth or fable. It doesn’t skimp on character either – with the plight of the children at the heart of this tale one that is conveyed with a great deal of sensitivity, and the character interactions between the children are cleverly written – reading as contemporary and youthful, without falling into any of the traps that many writers seem to plunge into when focusing on the language and syntaxes used by youths in an new setting.
The art that accompanies the prose is mesmerising – beautiful chapter headings that draw the readers eye without fail. Clearly influenced by ancient art forms, they help immensely to transport the reader to an other world, and some patterns linger long in the mind after the close of the book – intricate, delicate designs that represent points in the story and the characters lives.
All in all, “Areh” is a wonderful read – ambitious and original, it’s refreshing to read something that is clearly the product of years of hard work, determination and love between a group of people.