The Lying Reflection By Pael Khugan
| Onkareshwar Pandey - Editor in Chief - CEO, IOP - 31 Oct 2020


Pael Khugan: Turning to Become a Golden Signature

Her second novel ‘The Lying Reflection’ has hit the market and creating new sensation

By Onkareshwar Pandey

Pael Khugan is silently turning to become a Golden Signature. Her second novel ‘The Lying Reflection’ has hit the market and creating new sensation.

As similar to her first novel ‘The Never Ending Nightmare’, which has been a big favourite among the horror fans and is in the midst of being converted to a screenplay for the silver screen, ‘The Lying Reflection’ is also being liked by the readers and critique alike.  

Pael Khugan's novel ‘The Lying Reflection’ is an extremely well planned, beautifully written gothic horror novel. It immerses the reader within its magic spell and doesn’t let go, long after the last page has been read.

But who is Pael Khugan!

A well educated professional woman, Pael Khugan has worked as an editor with the Oxford University Press and has also been an educator.

Pael, who is presently the Group Executive Director of The SKB Group of Companies,  a consortium of a few international, financial and corporate consultancy firms, lives in Kuala Lumpur Malaysia, along with her husband and their son.

Writing, however, has always been her first love and she knows the pulse of readers who love horror novels.

“There’s a saying, ‘Even the longest journey starts with just a single step forward.’ It has never been truer for me, than when I started writing The Lying Reflection. ,” says Pael when asked how she started writing this novel.

And how did the story idea come to your mind?

“ Some years back, when the world was a much safer place, one of my friends had visited Skagen in Denmark. As she spoke about her trip, she mentioned going to the beach where two seas met.  Just that partial sentence created a story in my mind. At that time I had never been to Denmark, yet thanks to Google, it wasn’t very difficult to find out about the point in Skagen where the North Sea and the Baltic Sea met; but they didn’t mix. Of course scientists have given explanations about the phenomenon saying that the densities of the waters of the two seas are different,” said Pael.

Intriguing... How did a topography lead to this novel?

“Well, you see, the writer in me imagined that sort of landscape to be a representation of the good and evil in this world. Where they meet, but never mix. And so was born the novel, and along with it was born Æsa—an antagonist who doesn’t apologize for being evil, doesn’t give a sad back-story as to why she is evil, proving that there can never be any justification for malice, for evil,” she said.

“At times writing from her point of view, the way she saw the world, the way she argued about the unfairness of the Almighty, I used to become very uncomfortable. Somehow, some of her words created questions in my mind that I had no answer to. But that is when I realised that I have actually created the perfect Dark Angel, because that is the true vocation of evil. To falsely convince us that our bad deeds are justified,” Pael recalls.

In her own words, ‘The Lying Reflection’ is just like the two seas meeting, in each of us lives a bit of Æsa luring us, tempting us to do the wrong thing. On the other hand in each of us lives a Katarzyna, who is kind, caring, resilient and with an unshakeable faith in herself and God. The choice is ours, who we follow; because we can only be one of them, there’s no grey area. For even the two seas meet but doesn’t mix.

About the Novel

It’s a story that spans over a few timelines, yet blends in so well that the reader doesn’t feel the transition.

The story revolves around the concept that, every religion believes that God sends his Messiahs to this world to spread his words. Taking it further, what if Satan does the same? What if every few centuries his Dark Angels are born on earth to create mayhem and destruction?

When Trisha Brown received an ornate antique mirror for her eighteenth birthday, little did she realise that it was fated. For only through her could the ancient demon step into our world.

The Marcussens were among the most illustrious noble families of Denmark. In their veins flowed the Viking blood and their ancestral history could be traced back to the fifteenth century. They had everything, wealth, honour, fame…..and a curse that broke through the barriers of generations. For they were the chosen ones; chosen by the Prince of Darkness himself. Their family was doomed to endure among them the birth of Dark Angels—demons born to promulgate destruction of man.

Centuries back one such Dark Angel was born a Marcussen. She had created terror and tyranny that had almost brought an end to their ancestral kingdom. Through a hallowed rite she had been trapped and kept a captive over generations.

But now, she is out and determined to finish what she started; to make man kneel before her Lord and her. Only a Marcussen can stop her.

Ian Marcussen was the odd one in the family. For neither was he superstitious, nor did he have the patience to pay heed to the family legends. He had a business to run. But when what he thought were childhood myths, started to become real, when he felt the presence of unparalleled evil accompanying every footstep, he knew that his grandfather had foretold of a time, when it would be up to him, to restore fate in the world.

The story has some very powerful characters in it. Katarzyna, an old Polish woman who had in her life time, experienced the second world war and its atrocities, and yet remains unshakeable in her faith in God. Ian Marcussen, who has all the qualities that makes him stand out as a worthy protagonist. Mathew Brown, staunch, capable and a worthy ally to Ian Marcussen. Trisha Brown, a sweet, endearing, young girl but with a backbone of stainless steel that speaks volumes about her European ancestors.

However, among all, the most memorable is by far the character sketch of Aesa the antagonist. She is the messenger of Satan whose sole objective is to make mankind kneel before her and Satan himself.

 Ms. Khugan has created such unique layers in Aesa’s personality that, when the reader sees the world from her point of view, it is difficult to negate or to disagree with her thoughts. She is dominant, persuasive, manipulative, yet provides a perverse pleasure to the reader as the story unfolds. Very few fiction pieces have been written where a female antagonist commands this amount of fear or awe.

As with any story, there is always room for improvement. In the case of The Lying Reflection, the fault lies in the fact that perhaps the number of back stories for each secondary character could have been reduced. Right when the story becomes intense, Ms. Khugan likes to divert the story to another branch. Perhaps for some that can be entertaining, while others may find it anti climatic.

However, it is also true that the back stories are written in such lyrical, such compelling manner, that soon the readers forget to complain.  They end up enjoying the sub plot as much as the main plot.

The other thing that I feel that the author could have explored further was the character of Katarzyna. She is such a compelling personality, and her back story is one of the best part of the novel. However, she isn’t as much present within the main story, as much as one would expect.

The horror elements in the story are terrifying, disturbing and hard hitting.  Yet Ms. Khugan has not cheapened the narration with unnecessary, meaningless so called “jump scares”. Thus every horror scene remains an intricate part of the narration.

The story is gripping. I would recommend it to both horror fans, and as well as readers who are looking for something to read that creates questions and layers in their thought patterns.

The Lying Reflection

Pages – 266

Publisher- SKB Publishing House


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(Onkareshwar Pandey is Founder, Editor in Chief & CEO, Indian Observer Post and former Senior Group Editor- Rashtriya Sahara (Hindi & Urdu) and also former Editor, (News), ANI. Email - SMS- 9910150119)





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