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Review: Ailuros – Matt Doyle

Ailuros - Matt Doyle

Genre: Sci-Fi, Horror, Experimental

LGBTQ+ Category: Bi, Gay, Gender Fluid, Lesbian

Reviewer: Damien

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About The Book

#Begin *Ailuros*

In the *present // future*, Alex and Josh must face *their own // a* monster if they are to salvage *their relationship // Ailuros Unit 23* ;

These *are not* separate stories.

The following report represents a summary of the incident involving the abandoned microgravity holiday destination, Ailuros Unit Twenty-Three, and the crew of the Salvagers Guild Three ship, The Orca. The report is comprised primarily of the official transcripts of both the aforementioned events on board the unit and my interview with Guild Director, Sarah Walker. The final entry consists of my summarizing thoughts on the case.

As is often the case in investigations such as this, in the end, Ailuros itself is as much the key to understanding the events as the people involved are.

Circumstances as well as personal choices are important, after all.

The Review

Set in the future amid human space travel, Ailuros keeps you grounded to reality with a format that reads like a galactic version of Dracula. Transcripts, descriptions of videos, audio recordings from the “events,” and diary entries drive you through a story of mystery and intrigue.

Alex and Josh are the relatable characters on this journey for whom you will root. But the discovery of an abandoned “microgravity holiday destination,” Ailuros Unit Twenty-Three, propels them on a doomed quest to either discover what happened or salvage the remnants.

Aboard the Salvagers Guild Three ship, Alex, Josh and the rest of the crew set out to investigate. We learn about the pitfalls of the various crew members even before they set out, and more comes to light during their mission.

On Ailuros, they find a mess, but I disdain spoilers in a review so will leave you to go discover what transpired when you read the novel! And you should read this fun story!

Alex and Josh also have a relationship to save, if possible. There is a cryptic side to their love life, too. Can they save their marriage?

I loved the format of Ailuros. It invokes an almost Victorian sense of pace and adventure, but was updated for a new era and time. In a pretty quick read, Doyle creates very human characters. They all have flaws, some more than others, but also struggle with the reality presented to them while showing glimpses of the “good” person inside.

Doyle blurs the line between obeying the law, criminal behavior, and what is ethical and just. He leaves you contemplating those deep philosophical questions, even though you will read this for pleasure, as a fun thriller. The author generates tension by telling the reader from the onset about the outcome, but not the reasons for it. Authors attempt such ploys but often fail to deliver, because you as the reader kind of know what’s coming. Doyle avoids this pitfall and instead, engages this strategy with the best of them.

Wait! I forgot to mention the scariest aspect! How could I fail to warn you that creepy unknown space creatures are here, too? You should read Ailuros just for them. They’ll be in my nightmares tonight.

Part of the authentic documents feel that Doyle creates includes footnotes within the transcripts and other evidence. While clever and in line with a realistic feel, having to click into or go find a footnote was at times distracting. They yanked me out of the story, and induced a feeling of being in a college classroom.

That minor issue aside, Doyle spins you into an exciting space mystery. Alien creatures, back-stabbing humans, and difficult love stories keep you guessing until the bitter end.

The Reviewer

Damian Serbu lives in the Chicago area with his husband and two dogs, Akasha and Chewbacca. The dogs control his life, tell him what to write, and threaten to eat him in the middle of the night if he disobeys. He has published several speculative fiction/horror novels with NineStar Press. Keep up to date with him on Facebook, Twitter, or at

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