Reviewed by Lit Amri for Readers’ Favorite
In Elah’s Pearl by Shean Pao, Mokole is asked by the brotherhood of Bohar to kill his little brother, the third-born Aidan, whom they suspected to be the blessed Pearl of Elah. They believe that Aidan possesses the royal blood, and this will prevent their plan to eliminate the caste system. Mokole refuses and challenges Varchaka for the leadership of Bohar through the ‘Display’, a battle between the noble bloods. When he fails, he has no choice but to obey the brotherhood and kill Aidan. Is Aidan truly the Pearl of Elah? His family believes so, and Mokole must try his best to protect him. His failure would mean the loss of his brother, his family, and even his secret human lover, Ceara.
Pao’s mystical short story of the Muirru society, a race of half fish-half human, is highly engaging from the start. I find the introduction of the world building effectively narrated for a novella (better than some novels that I’ve read before). This imaginative story offers an assessment of the caste system, justice, familial bonds, and love between the fascinating and well developed characters. The dialogue is well-written and Pao even managed to add a great, unpredictable twist to the plot. I find it interesting how fate leads to Mokole’s moment of epiphany. Overall, Elah’s Pearl is a compelling short story with a strong premise and storyline, as well as a sublime quality of prose and characterization. It’s truly a remarkable read and Shean Pao is beyond doubt an exceptional writer.