Issue #6

Mysteries Ahead by Morgan Meneely

“There are no lessons in it. There’s just this harsh, horrible world touched with beautiful magic.”

—The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert


Letter From the Editor

As a child, I was a cliche; I adored fairytales. They were sugar to my childhood teeth. I left my window open for Peter Pan, I kept my eyes peeled for white rabbits, and I went hunting in my mother’s garden looking for the fairies from Cottingly. As an adult, I am not much different. Several of my published works are inspired by fairytales. I wrote and produced a documentary all about Little Red Riding Hood, I even have Snow White’s poisoned apple tattooed on my arm. Fairytales, myths, legends, folklore, all hold a special place in the heart of humanity that, I don’t think we’ll ever be able to fully explain what it is about them that makes them so eternally intoxicating.

I know lots of people want to attach morals and lessons to these stories, but I never saw them like that. These stories, most of which are older than any of us can possibly know, and even the ones we can date back to a specific date, all posses a universal magic—a universal truth. Terrible things can happen, and probably will happen, but you can still live—you must live. So this issue is a beautiful basket of writing, artwork, video, and photography that captures the various elements of these eternal stories that keep us coming back again and again.

Molly Likovich (she/her)
Lead Editor


A big thank you to the Thank You, Five podcast for supporting The Elephant Ladder. The Elephant Ladder is a proud supporter of art in all it’s many forms, so a podcast about musical theatre is clearly something those of us here can get behind. Click the link below to subscribe to the podcast today!


Matt and David are dusting off their degrees to tell you all about musicals! What is the show about? What’s the history of the show? What’s the story of the making of the show? Learn about musicals that aren’t Hamilton (Which is amazing and you should see it if you can, mind you) and join us! Find us on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts! Five minutes please! https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/thank-you-five/id1449931844


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“I can’t go back to yesterday, because I was a different person then.”

—Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll


Roots

by Michelle D. Ring

Once upon a time in a small desert suburb, there was a dead girl lying on the sidewalk. People often passed by and saw her there, festering in the heat, but they were always quick to avert their gaze and keep walking, eager to get on with their days with as few interruptions as possible. They did not stop and they did not ask any questions. Eventually most of the locals stopped noticing her at all. 

As time wore on the sun bleached her skin, leaving her flesh brittle and cracked like the desert all around her. This continued for days and weeks and years until finally, the little spark of life that was left inside the girl’s body could no longer be contained. It was then that a mighty saguaro cactus burst forth from her ribcage. This cactus, much like the rest of its kind, was hearty and strong with roots that could easily pierce through the concrete below, allowing it to continue growing long after the rest of the girl was gone. Now, the same conditions that had once claimed the poor girl’s life were allowing her to thrive, but still people tended to keep their distance. 

Although most people had very little interest in her, the cactus possessed infinite interest in most people. She spent her days silently surveying the passersby and wondering what their lives were like. Every so often a person came along that the cactus found herself particularly fond of. Currently it was a teenage girl, probably around the same age that she herself had been back before her breath had halted and aging ceased to matter. This girl was slender and tall with awkward limbs that jutted out at odd angles, making her look like something out of a storybook. She usually passed by the cactus with her nose in a book or her eyes glued to the sidewalk below, but now and again something beautiful would catch her eye or something amusing would happen in one of her books to elicit the most radiant smile the world has ever known. The cactus lived for these moments. 

But one morning her girl was not there. The cactus waited all day with her spines perked up, hoping to catch a glimpse, but it never came. The girl was also absent the next day, and the next. The cactus was beginning to suspect that maybe her girl had moved away, but then, just as suddenly as she disappeared, she resurfaced with dark, angry bruises all down the sides of her beautiful face. There was no book in her hands. There was no spark in her eyes. She walked with her chin tucked down and her thumbs hooked in the straps of her frayed backpack. She looked as though someone had stolen every ounce of joy from her body. The cactus bristled, desperately wanting to attack whoever did this to her, but she had no way of knowing. All she could do was helplessly watch her favorite girl forlornly walk on by.  

The girl did not look any happier on her way home from school. In fact, she seemed even more beleaguered than before. As the cactus watched, a small group of children rounded the corner, rapidly approaching her girl. 

“Yo, Destiny,” the leader of the pack called out. 

The forlorn girl stiffened and stopped in her tracks.

“I heard Stephanie Williams beat your ass for trying to make out with her, is that true?” 

The girl called Destiny turned around and stubbornly lifted her chin. 

“What do you want, Amanda?”

Amanda smiled and gave a little shrug. 

“I’m just trying to get answers here. Right girls?”

Her cronies dutifully nodded. They were all rather large and standing in an intimidating formation. Destiny subconsciously took a step back, bringing her just a foot away from the cactus. Amanda glommed onto this small show of weakness like a baby to a bottle.

“What’s the matter, huh?” she cooed. “I thought you liked girls?”

Amanda’s friends erupted into laughter and Destiny shoved her hands into her pockets. 

“So what if I do?” she said, voice warbling. “What are you gonna do about it?”

Amanda abruptly stopped laughing and sneered at her. 

“Disgusting,” she whispered. 

Then, faster than any of them could register what she was trying to do, Amanda reached out her meaty hands and gave Destiny a hard shove on the shoulders. The cactus watched in horror as Destiny stumbled back. It seemed as though she was coming toward her in slow motion, but the cactus was helpless to stop it. All she could do was brace for the impact. 

Destiny let out a wail of pain and yanked her arm back. With it, came more than a dozen of the cactus’s thick spines. Whether it was remorse or fear of repercussions, Amanda and her friends ran off quickly, leaving their victim to bleed by herself. It was heartbreaking to see Destiny lying in the same spot where she had once laid down and died. The cactus wanted so badly to reach out and comfort her, but she knew that she couldn’t. She was the source of the girl’s pain, not the solution. 

To make matters worse, now that her spines were lodged in Destiny’s body, the cactus could feel shades of what the girl felt; all of the physical pain, and all of the shame and humiliation over being rejected by her peers. And underneath all of that, buried deep down below the surface, was the same aching loneliness that the cactus knew all too well. Destiny wanted the same thing she wanted, the same thing everybody wants at some point or another: to feel understood. 

Destiny laid there on the sidewalk and allowed herself to weep for a few minutes before carefully rising to her feet and hobbling away with her arm held out to the side. Even after the girl was no longer in her line of sight, the cactus continued to feel and see what Destiny did. She stayed with her through the winding neighborhood streets and marveled at how much they’d grown since she put down roots. Destiny’s house was less than five minutes away, but that five minutes felt like an entire lifetime to the cactus. She was seeing and experiencing new surroundings for the first time in over a decade. It was almost too much excitement for her plant-based consciousness to withstand. 

When they reached Destiny’s house, the girl immediately locked herself in the downstairs bathroom with a pair of tweezers and began painstakingly removing every needle from her arm. The cactus could feel the loss of sensation in each one of them as the blood-encrusted appendages cooled in the open air. When the task was done, Destiny bandaged herself up and carefully gathered the spines in her good hand. The connected feelings were fading fast, but the cactus could feel the warmth radiating from the other girl’s palm and easily picked up her train of thought. She was trying to decide how best to dispose of the needles. Not wanting to damage the garbage can, Destiny decided it would be best to return the spines to the earth from which they once came. Once embedded in the soft dirt of Destiny’s backyard, the cactus’s mind returned to her main body. The needles were nothing more than a dull itch she could not scratch. 

The cactus did not expect to see Destiny the next day, but in the late morning after all of the earliest risers and latest stragglers had come and gone, she made a very welcome appearance. Her long limbs made purposeful strides toward the cactus and then stopped directly in front of her. The two beings stared at one another for a good long while. It felt almost as if Destiny could see right through the cactus to the girl underneath. Slowly, she reached up and placed her bandaged hand over the newly bare spot on the cactus’s trunk. 

“I’m sorry for hurting you,” she whispered.

And I’m sorry for hurting you, the cactus longed to say back.

Destiny stayed only a few moments before withdrawing her hand and continuing on her way. Frustrated, the cactus began to cry. Her tears were not visible, but they were solid and real. They slid down her extensive root system and eventually made their way across town to the needles buried in Destiny’s backyard. The tears nourished the dormant needles, and from them, a girl began to grow. This girl was similar to her predecessor, but sturdier, with green hair and tan skin and hundreds of dark, tiny freckles where her needles used to be. A ring of glossy white blooms circled her newly-formed head like a crown. Her body was draped in soft pink fabric.

Olivia by Sirenia Maciel 

Curious, the girl lifted her hand and curled the fingers inward. She had almost forgotten how sweet it felt to have limbs that could move independently of one another. Next, she bent her knee and tried to lift her foot off the ground, but she only teetered forward a bit before falling back on her heels. She was still attached to the ground by her roots. She didn’t have the heart to be mad about it though, not after all those roots had done for her. Now there was nothing left to do but bask in her new freedoms and wait for Destiny to return home. 

Destiny was not as surprised or as frightened as she should have been when she discovered the ethereal being growing in her backyard. She very calmly exited the screen door and made her way over, surveying the girl with more curiosity than concern. 

“What are you?” she asked.

The cactus girl opened her mouth to respond but found that her throat was too dry to produce words. She coughed and coughed until Destiny brought over a hose and had her drink from it. The water slid down the back of her throat and pooled in her roots, causing them to loosen ever so slightly. 

“I don’t know what I am,” she answered honestly. “Does anyone?”

Destiny shrugged. 

“No. I guess not. How did you get here then?”

“You planted me.” 

Destiny’s brows knitted together for a moment and then she reached out to take the other girl’s hand. There, just above her wrist was the only patch of skin that was free of freckles. The patch was exactly the same size and shape as the web of needle-pricks hiding under Destiny’s bandages. 

“It’s you,” Destiny said in amazement. 

The cactus girl smiled. It felt so good to finally be seen by the human she admired most. 

“Yes. It’s me. Whoever I am.” 

The two of them spent the next several hours talking. The cactus girl shared her life story, all of her experiences and all that she’d learned from sitting and observing over the years. In return, Destiny explained a bit of what the world was like in this new age. The cactus girl sucked up all of this new information like a sponge. It made her feel young and alive and free. 

“My mom’s going to be home soon,” Destiny said when streaks of pink and purple lit up the sky. “I don’t think she’d take kindly to you growing in our backyard. Is there any way we can get you out of the ground?”

The girl shrugged.

“I don’t know. As far as I know, my roots are keeping me alive. I don’t think it’s a good idea to cut them, but they’re too deep in the ground to dig out.”  

Destiny hummed quietly to herself as she mulled it over. 

“Well it’s not like your presence here adheres to any sort of logic,” she said finally. “So maybe there’s a magical solution.”

“Like what?” 

Destiny began to blush.

“Well, in storybooks, the only way to get out of tricky situations is with a kiss.” 

Warmth pooled in the pit of the cactus girl’s stomach and traveled up her spine.

“Oh,” she said. She could feel her heart racing in her ears.

“We don’t have to,” Destiny added quickly. “It was just an idea.”

“No!” the girl shouted, catching Destiny off guard. “Sorry. I mean, I want to. We should try it.” 

Destiny looked up at her and flashed her brilliant smile. 

“Really?” she asked. 

“Really.” 

The girls leaned into one another as darkness fell around them. Their lips met and it was as if something deep within the core of the universe clicked into place. The cactus girl reached up and wrapped her arms around Destiny’s neck, putting her closer. There was a fire spreading from her lips all the way down her spine and into the earth below. 

You can let me go now, she thought to her roots. I’ll be okay. Thank you for taking care of me. The ground rumbled in response, and the girls broke apart. Then, when she thought she was ready, the cactus girl pulled back and lifted her dirty feet out of the ground.

“I remember my name now,” she said, surprised to find that there were tears in her eyes.

Destiny gently wiped them away.

“What is it?” 

“Olivia.”

Destiny smiled. 

“It’s a pretty name. It suits you. Would you like to come inside and get cleaned off?”

Olivia nodded and took her favorite girl’s hand. From that moment on, there was no more loneliness for either of them. Only soft, gentle pleasure.

They lived happily ever after. 


Michelle D. Ring (she/her) is a freelance writer and self proclaimed “cool dude” from sunshiny Phoenix, Arizona. Her hobbies include reading, soapmaking, and overanalyzing everything.


“Be bold. Be bold. Be bold. But not too bold.”

—Mr. Fox


Traveling Snakes

by Lauren Wilson

“Have I not reason?”
—Macbeth


Lauren (she/her) is a Barista, Poet, and storyteller. She resides in Maryland, and she can make a kick ass latte in addition to writing poetry. 


“There was no superstition. Just existence. We are the fairytales now.”

—Ours Not Yours by Molly Likovich



Erin Anastasia (she/her) is a spoken word poet from New Jersey. Her work has seen national stages at the National Poetry Slam and Women of the World Poetry Slam. She dedicates most of her free time to filming and editing videos for her YouTube channel, and her debut poetry collection “Mapless” can be found on Amazon.


“I’m not good. I’m not nice. I’m just right.”

—Into the Woods


The Wise Old Woman

by Jordan E. McNeil

A long time ago, there was a wise old woman who lived by the sea. Each morning she rose with the sun and washed in the tide. She greeted each creature of the sand and every creature of the water before settling into her work. Some called her witch, some called her hag, but the wise old woman paid them no mind—as she often did with the opinions of small-minded men.

Instead, she sat on the rickety porch of her humble shanty, singing the words of old as she tended her plants. Her house was home to many luscious greens and beautiful blooms that, in usual circumstances, would never survive amongst the salt air and brine. But the wise old woman was not one for usual circumstances.

Neither were the women who walked the beach to visit her. Many came because they had exhausted all the usual options; they had tried the typical remedies, taken the common routes, and yet did not find what they sought. So they walked the beach, guided to the wise old woman’s home by her lilting song. The women would find her on the porch, a cup of tea in one hand and a warm smile waiting for them.

And so they followed her to her table, discussed their troubles, felt safe in her presence as she blended the right tincture, performed the right spell, or imparted the right wisdom each woman needed. They would always leave in the warm light of sunset, hearts full and minds calmed.

The wise old woman would sleep satisfied, having accomplished her work for the day. And when the sun rose, she would begin again.


Jordan E. McNeil (she/her) writes fairytales, rages at videogames, and takes selfies with goats. Her work can be found (or is forthcoming) at Curating Alexandria, The Arcanist, Arsenika, and Liminality. She can be found on Twitter, @Je_McNeil.


“You are the monster I claim.”

—Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones


Tam Lin’s Companion

by Maisie Dickson

Ψ

When wandering through the woods near Carter Hall, 
Here’s a warning I give to all, 
Wear a cloak of green and ring of gold, 
For then Tam Lin’s gaze will not hold. 

There are some that say the wood surrounding Carter Hall is cursed, that the myth of the one known as Tam Lin will take your virginity if you do not wear the cloak the color the leaves and ring the color of the sun. 

When wandering through the woods, you’ll come across trees of golden, silver and tress with leaves made of diamonds. Further down the path is a clearing that surrounds itself with beautiful flowers; bluebells, forget-me-nots and roses. Stay too long and you’ll come across Tam Lin. If you were wearing a green cloak then his fae eyes will not see you, however, if you are not wearing a green cloak, a gold ring is said to be the offering he prefers. If you have neither then he will collect on what he desires. 

I always loved hearing the myths and stories about the woods that surround Carter Hall—my childhood home. I remember asking papa about the woods and what they held. To his credit papa never looked dismayed at my interest in these stories even as I got older and my sisters and I started to blossom. 

I’m one of twelve sisters. I’m third oldest, which means that while papa is still strict on my upbringing, I have more freedom than the two eldest—Adeline and Teresa.

As I stare out the window looking towards the woods, I can’t help but wonder if the myths are true. 

“Janessa! Janessa!” 

I’m pulled out of my reverie and my attention is drawn to my youngest sibling—Lacey—one of three triplets. She has our mother’s auburn hair and our fathers’ blue eyes; I smile down at her. 

“Come along! It’s time for your gift from papa” 

This has been a custom for a long as I can remember, when we reach the age of 20, father gifts us something that is too be ours completely. My two eldest sisters had both been gifted the gardens and the north tower.  As I hitch my skirts up and follow Lacy to the library—papa always worked from there—she talks excitedly about what papa will give me. 

“Maybe he’ll gift you part of the library or one of the ballrooms! We could dance all night!” 

“That would be nice, or maybe the stone dancing pavilion! I love dancing with the lanterns surrounding us.”

I said happily as we walk to the library; It is the second largest room in the house. The largest is the ballroom, my sisters and I love to dance, ever since since we were young girls, and our mother taught us; we were taught formal dances such as the Waltz, to silly dances of us sisters together. 

We loved dancing and even after the death of our mother, dancing was a way to stay connected to her. The triples were told stories of her and I spent hours teaching them the dances that she taught us. Papa has allowed us to still dance and play music but not like when Mama was alive. I can see that he has slowly started to recover from her death, but I see in his eyes sometimes, that he still misses her. 

Pulling the large oak doors to the Library open, Lacey wanders ahead of me. The shelves are covered in scrolls and letters, records of history gone past and myths and legends. I read a lot when I was growing up, hungry for the myths and the beckoning the call of magical realms. 

“PAPA! Janessa’s here!” 

I follow her excited voice to Papa’s study, which is tucked away from the main part of the library. When we enter, Papa looks up from his records as we curtsy. 

“Jane, Lacey” 

Papa says as he rises from his chair. I wait patiently as he walks around his oak desk. After thanking Lacey for bringing me to him, he excuses her, she leaves with a smile and then heads off to find our sisters. 

Watching her leave, I turn back to Papa, his gaze feels like he’s remembering better times. He often told me I most resembled Mama. My curly auburn hair and hazel eyes are identical to hers. He pushes a stray hair behind my ear and smiles again. 

“My sweet, Janessa, you’ve come of age and now it’s time for your gift. I thought long and hard about what I should gift you and have ultimately decided for the woods that surround this place.” 

“What?” I gasp, taking in his words. He’s gifting me the entirety of the woods that surround our house? So many emotions run through my head. 

After a few minutes of the news sinking in, I leap up and hug papa, thanking him over and over again. He hugs me back and I smile in delight. 

Ψ

In the hours that pass, I walk through the parts of the woods that are familiar to me. Growing up, exploring these woods was my favorite part of the day. I found specific places and smells that were intoxicating, where the leaves changed constantly. Now, I find myself nearing the spot where the leaves turn to gold; stepping into the cluster of tress, I find myself wandering down the gold-lined path with trees of silver, with diamond leaves. I stop an admire them, touching as the suns sparkle seeps through. 

A bit further up is where the enchanting smells are. The clearing full of vines, beds bluebells, forget-me-nots, lavender, and bushes of roses. I stop myself to admire everything, especially the cluster of purple roses—a perfect gift from the forest for Lacey. Leaning down to pick the flower, I hear a voice call out from somewhere. 

“Halt! do not take that! It doesn’t belong to you” 

I straighten myself up slowly and turn around to face the voice who has addressed me. He’s quite handsome, more handsome then the knights that guard Carter Hall, and he’s younger than them as well. His piercing green eyes and wild hair are intriguing, and I feel feverish with desire.

“You wear no cloak of green, nor do any of your fingers bear a ring of gold. Surely you know how this story gets told.” 

Tam Lin. The myths and warnings are true. But the warnings made no mention of his handsomeness or his deep voice, both of which are drawing me in. I put on a smile and take a few steps forward to close the gap between us. His gaze pours into mine and I feel myself blush. 

“I wear no cloak, nor a ring, but I can offer something, and assure you of the pleasure it will bring.”

He brings his lips to mine, and they’re soft. He lays me down on the flower bed and makes me feel things that I’ve only read about in books. As the pleasure continues I feel our bodies intertwine and I am sure that the sounds I make echo throughout the woods. 

Ψ

By the time Janessa made it back to Carter Hall, the sun was just setting across the amber dotted sky. She didn’t want to think about what happened within the woods nor did she want to imagine doing it again. 

Walking past the knights that guarded the entrance to her home, she headed straight for her shared bedroom. It was nice and roomy with all twelve beds aligned along each wall. As she entered her sisters eyed her wearily as she went into the shared bathroom, cleaning herself up from her forest adventure. 

A few weeks had passed, and things had changed in Janessa’s life; she was noticeably pregnant. When her father found out, he got angry and demanded her to tell him which of his ‘faithful and dutiful’ knights had done such a thing and Janessa simply responded

“No knight did this to me, this child is the responsibility of me and my lover in the woods”  

She didn’t made mention that it was Tam Lin for fear of her father’s reaction. 

 Sometime later, she returned to the woods, a sack slung over her shoulder that contained a book and a green cloak; she wore a simple gold ring on her finger. Coming across the clearing full of flowers again, she took the book out and kneeling by the flower bed with her book open to her, started to collect the flowers necessary to brew a potion to aid in pregnancy, weighing up the option to brew a separate one that would cause quite a different result.

Sensing Tam Lin behind her, she turned around, flowers in hand. He walked closer to inspect her figure and she nodded as to confirm his suspicions. Taking a breath, he sat against a tree while she continued her flower picking, he started to recite his story to her to pass the time. 

She listened to him as he told her that he was not a fae, nor a daemon, but was an old solider returning from war, and that when riding through the woods, something spooked his horse, causing his horse to throw him off, and land in the lap of Queen of The Fae—Titania. 

Becoming consort to the queen of the fae had its privileges, as no fae would dare mess with the Queen’s favorite, however, he had heard the other fae talking recently about using him for this year’s sacrifice. Worried that it would come true— the ever clever, Janessa—came up with a plan. 

The fairies’ procession had started, and Tam Lin rode on his horse, trying to keep himself calm. Janessa hid behind a tree as the procession started— covered in her green cloak to hide from the eyes of the fae. Seeing Tam Lin’s horse she leaped out from her hiding spot to pull him off his horse, landing on the grass. 

Titania quickly noticed this turn of events and was not pleased that her favorite sacrifice had tried to escape. She turned Tam Lin into a quick procession of things: a snake, a lizard, a large bear, a hot piece of iron, and finally a ball of fire. Janessa held on and knew that in every form he wouldn’t hurt her as she was carrying his child. She quickly rushed to a nearby stream where she tossed him into it as he changed from a ball of fire into a regular, but naked human. 

Wrapping her green cloak around his naked form, Janessa breathed a sigh of relief. Titania not amused that her plan had not succeeded, but bitterly admitted defeat. 

Before taking her leave she told Tam Lin, in a voice dripping with venom: “Had I foreseen when you landed in my lap that you would fall for this mortal woman, I would have petrified your eyes to stone”

Ψ

They reside now in a small house within the woods. Janessa along with her daughter, visit her family, who still live in Carter Hall. Eventually she’ll take up the seat as Protector and Lady of Carter Hall. 


Maisie Dickson (she/her) is a demisexual content creator and storyteller who lives in regional Australia. When not reading, writing, or illustrating, you can find her escaping into a book with tea in hand. 


“…it tastes older than stories. It tastes like myth.”

—The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern



Bridget Barnsley (she/her) is an avid book reader, and fiction writer from Connecticut, who loves fairytale retellings. She is currently in her Sophomore year of college where she plans on double majoring in creative writing and film. She wrote, directed, acted, and edited the Harry Potter web series Ravenclaw Rules. She loves superheroes, comedy, and expressing her opinions. She is an active member of the BookTube community. 


“Never is an awfully long time.”

—Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie


To Journey’s End by Morgan Meneely

Morgan Meneely (she/her) is an artist, photographer, and part-time dungeon master currently residing in Phoenix, Arizona. She can often be found dreaming about magical worlds and stories left untold. You can keep up to date with her colorful adventures on Instagram @sleep_deprived_art or buy her prints at https://www.etsy.com/shop/SleepDeprivedArt


“Have courage and be kind.”

—Disney’s Cinderella (2015)


Book Review: A Curse So Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer

by Maisie Dickson

Dear Reader, 

Have you ever had a book see through you so plainly—so clearly—that you wept at the end of the book because it perfectly captures your experiences and also validates them? To be completely seen in ink and paper is a wonderful feeling. 

I’ve had books that I saw my personality in, that represented experiences I’ve had, but never something that I could say, ‘yes that me on page.’ It was like getting crumbs for many years and then—finally—getting a whole cake. 

This book, dear reader, is A Curse So Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmer. It’s a Beauty and the Beast retelling that involves a disabled beauty and is also a portal fantasy. It’s just absolutely delicious.  

Harper, our beauty, is from our world and has unilateral cerebral palsy, which focuses in one of her legs. She’s headstrong, feisty, and an enjoyable heroine. I loved her telling off our beast character for asking why she was injured, which is a question I face on a near daily basis. 

I loved her character as the disability didn’t take over her character, nor did it define her character. She was just a regular character that had been dealt a tough hand in life but was able to make it her own. 

Rhen, our beast character, took me some time, but eventually he grew on me. I loved his backstory and character development. His banter with long time Captain of the Guard, Grey, was entertaining and had me in stitches at times. 

Grey was my favorite character. He was snarky, strong, and was someone who just had me laughing. He felt like the bridge between the two as the relationship between Harper and Rhen began to build. I loved the friendship between Harper and Grey and how he was her guide to everything Emberfall (the magical realm within the book) related.

Overall, I loved this book so much. Not only did it give me the representation that I long desired; but it also gave me a great heroine, an exquisite world and a fantastic adventure.  


“You’re nobody’s doorway but your own, and the only one who gets to tell you how your story ends is you.”

—Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire


Worlds Beyond by Katy Likovich

Katy Likovich (she/her) is a public school teacher in Los Angeles, California where she lives with her dog, Dragon, and her cat, Ollie. She has healthy obsessions with both Harry Potter and My Favorite Murder. Some of her other works can be found in multiple early 2000s issues of Echoes and Visions as well as Wordstock Magazine ’09.


“To the stars who listen—and the dreams that are answered.”

—A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas


A big thank you to the patron of this issue: writer, photographer, and former science teacher, Susan Marie Doyle.


Susan is currently working on environmental science research and activism. Follow her on twitter @suzanroze


Follow The Elephant Ladder on twitter @LadderElepant and on Instagram @theelephantladder. If you’d like to help fund the next issue of The Elephant Ladder, please consider donating to our ko-fi page at: http://www.ko-fi.com/theelephantladder Lastly, if you’re interested in running an ad in the next issue of The Elephant Ladder, email us at theelephantladder@gmail.com


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