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Reviewed by Saifunnissa Hassam for Readers' Favorite
Ishmael A. Soledad's Sha'Kert: End of Night is a science fiction story that begins on a futuristic Earth and continues on a far distant planet, Sha'Kert. The story is told from the points of view of different characters. The futuristic Earth is technologically advanced and many distant planets now have human settlements. Greg Robertson and Louise Hierro face a terrifying dilemma when their 6-year-old daughter Penny is diagnosed with a terminal genetic illness. To pay for the medical procedure, Greg commits a crime. When Greg's crime is exposed, the entire family is sent into exile to a distant planet. Traveling with them on the spaceship Pegasus is a group of Amish families, seeking a new place to continue their traditional way of life. Something goes wrong on the space journey, and the Pegasus lands on an unknown planet.
I enjoyed reading Ishmael A. Soledad's Sha'Kert - End of Night particularly for its compelling characters: Greg, Louise, Henry, and Menno. Their personal narratives, and the richly imagined environment and ecology of the planet Sha'Kert brought the characters vividly to life. For me, Greg became the central figure. He feels an immediate connection to the new planet. His relationships with others become complex. The pace and tension of the story pick up considerably with Greg's exploration of the planet. I liked the way Greg's new discoveries reveal the very significant differences in the Amish way of life and Greg's independent thinking. I thought the character of Henry Stoll, Menno's son, played a very important role, a bridge between Greg and the Amish because Henry left the Amish when he was 17, preferring a modern education and way of life. I felt the most emotionally difficult and heartbreaking part of the story is the impact on Greg's wife, Louise. Her greatest concern is their daughter Penny's life. I saw Louise as a remarkable and courageous woman, even as Greg's drive to explore the planet turns into a wedge between them. A well-crafted fascinating story, of love, of conflicts, of courage, resilience, and of the unquenchable curiosity to explore, to search for other intelligent life.