Shaula by AM Kherbash is a sci-fi horror about a strange creature. Ben and Grim have to make a delivery, but things are not as easy as you’d think.

All quotes are from an advanced reader copy, and may or may not reflect the published edition.

From Goodreads:

The sight of the body did not sicken Ben. Not right away. Guilt was what got him: the mounting consequences rising in his throat, and the truth which would inevitably come spilling out.

Sometime after the events at Duncastor (See Lesath), two men are dispatched to make a delivery.

It was a straightforward assignment: take the sealed cargo—a container roughly the size of a child’s casket—and deliver it to a reclusive specialist residing in a lakeside cabin. What this specialist did or specialized in was never mentioned. Not that it mattered, when the task was simple—simple enough that even a young and inexperienced bureaucrat like Ben could handle it. If only he weren’t charged with keeping an eye on his wayward senior.

The lakeside cabin was the last remnant of a closed down resort, which Ben guessed was bought by a dummy corporation belonging to their employers.

All the other cabins were torn down, leaving them with an empty property that served to distance the lakeside cabin from public grounds. Something about it reminded Ben of the horticultural practice of pruning spent flowers to further enhance the beauty of the crowning blossom. Not that it did anything to improve the cabin’s appearance he observed, as they stood in front of the stocky wooden building, sheltered under interlacing branches of towering evergreens. Much like the faded photos, an eerie hush permeated the place: no breeze ruffled the reflected image on the lake’s surface, nor susurrated through the green needles above.

It was all very quiet.

This review is tricky, at best. It wasn’t that I disliked the book – it was that I didn’t care. The writing style was somewhat jarring. Other reviews seem to praise the style of the prose, however, I struggled with it. There were many times I had no idea who was talking, or who was being referred to. I had to reread sentences over and over to understand. This really affected my ability to enjoy the book.

For clarity, I did not read the first book. However, previous reviews and the note in the book states that you do not need to. I wish I had read the first book, though, so I would have known a little more about the writing style. The plot summary that we are given also doesn’t explain much at all about the story. This plot summary is, in fact, not at all what the book is about.

“O child, lorn child, lost and wayward. Unlike him, Grim never tasted the loving strain of her arms. Foul and fallow, she will take him, restore him, make him pure and whole once more.”

Due to the way you are somewhat thrown into the story, I struggled to connect to any of the characters. This made any danger they were in something I felt indifferent towards. Their struggles, and their secrets with the organization, were “meh” at best. The concept of the monster was interesting to me, both as a siren and some kind of worm. I felt that I still didn’t know what it was though and that I had more questions than answers at the end. Maybe this was the point.

“The more I learn, the less I feel like I understand what the hell is happening.”

This quote explains really how I felt about this book as a whole. It’s hard to pinpoint my feelings in this review because the pacing was fast, I finished it to know what was happening. But- I still don’t know what was happening. Perhaps it was just me and my struggle with the writing style, or perhaps it was the plot itself. I probably won’t ever know the answer to that, either.

“Maybe I just like the idea that we’re not alone. I think others feel the same way. They just won’t admit it.”

Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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