Cover Reveal: WE SHALL BE MONSTERS
Cover reveal! Frankenstein meets Indian mythology in this twisty, darkly atmospheric fantasy where the horror is not the monsters you face but the ones you create. Get ready for We Shall Be Monsters by Tara Sim, coming to shelves June 25, 2024!
When her sister Lasya dies, Kajal vows to bring her back to life using any means necessary. But in preventing Lasya from rejoining the cycle of reincarnation, her sister’s soul turns corrupt and warps into a bhuta—a violent, wraith-like spirit hell-bent on murdering those who wronged it in life. With each kill, her sister’s bhuta becomes stronger and angrier, and Kajal’s chances of resurrecting Lasya with her soul intact grow slimmer.
Blamed for Lasya’s kills and declared a witch, Kajal is locked away with little hope of escape until two strangers who label themselves rebels arrive and offer to help free her. The catch: She must resurrect the kingdom’s fallen crown prince, aiding a coup to overthrow the usurper who murdered the royal family decades ago. Desperate to return to Lasya’s body, Kajal rushes to revive the prince…Only to discover that she hasn’t resurrected the crown prince, but another boy entirely.
All her life, Kajal has trusted no one but her sister. But with Lasya dead and rebels ready to turn her over to the usurper’s ruthless soldiers, Kajal is forced to work with the boy she mistakenly revived to find the right prince—before the rebels discover her mistake, or Lasya’s bhuta finally turns its murderous fury on the person truly responsible for her death: Kajal.
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Cover art Amrit Brar, cover design by Maria Fazio
Kajal knelt before a barrow and tore at the compacted dirt. It gathered under her nails and in the lines of her palm as it gave way. Part of her expected to see something horrifying, a decaying corpse with gray, diseased flesh.
But the yaksha-blessed earth had done its job preserving the fallen soldier. The face under his slanted helmet was ashen, twisted in agony. Old, brown blood stained his armor and lips. Kajal recalled prayers for the dead recited by pujaris, and considered for half a second whether she should voice one.
Kajal stepped over a rusted shield and dug through two more mounds, shoulders tensing every time a scream or shout or clash of steel rang across the field. Sezal and Vivaan worked quietly and quickly, often scanning their surroundings like paranoid cart vendors on the lookout for thieves. The bodies she discovered here were much the same as the first: gray, bloody, in the midst of some terrible pain. None of them wore armor suitable for a crown prince.
The whispers were now in her ear. Ice crawled along her spine, freezing her in place. If she moved too fast, she felt the faint touch of hands on her arms, encircling her wrists. It was all too easy to imagine a thousand bhutas grabbing hold of her, ripping her limbs from her body. Stopping her heart. Dragging her down into the earth with them.
Their fingers fitting to the bruises Lasya had left around her throat.
She couldn’t swallow, could barely get a breath in. The building tension around her was sharp and brittle, a low drone of anger that had dread pooling in her gut.
She shut her eyes even as those phantom hands touched her, grasping, taunting. Her heart was lodged in her throat, blood rushing through her head.
It took her a moment to realize she had started humming.
The notes were trembling and barely formed, a gentle vibration in her throat. The song was simple yet familiar. A comfort from a past life.
It had the same effect on her it always had. Her body began to relax, her heartbeat slowed, and the hands of the bhutas gradually let go.
Kajal opened her eyes.
A small white butterfly fluttered before her. She stared at it and wondered if this was another trick. It was too bright and too lively for a place like this.
Kajal stretched out a hand. The butterfly perched on her finger, flapping its wings—once, twice—before taking off in the direction she had been walking.
Kajal followed. The soldiers’ drying cries slipped off her like water, and if the bhutas were gathered behind her in a resentful wave, she didn’t notice. She kept her eyes fixed on the white butterfly, wanting to see where it would lead her.
Eventually, it landed on a barrow. Its wings quivered when Kajal crouched down, and it took flight when Kajal reached for it again.
Slowly, as if moving through a dream, she broke through the thick layer of dirt that covered the body. The bhutas drew closer, as if they, too, were curious.
Once the soil had been shifted, Kajal found a helmet made of bronze, with a chain-mail curtain. This was certainly different. Carefully, she pried the helmet off to study the corpse’s face beneath.
He was dirty and bloodied, like the rest, but he wore an expression of serenity, like he hadn’t fought his death at all. His hair was thick and black, ending in loose curls at his neck, and his lashes were surprisingly long. Kajal stared at his bloodless lips, the elegant arches of his eyebrows. Although his head was tilted to one side, his right arm outstretched in the same direction, the ground beside him was empty. She examined the spot until she grew dizzy, then forced herself to study him further.
His armor was similar to the other soldiers’, a green-and-gold chilta hazar masha, layers of fabric studded with small nails. But whereas the others’ coats were lined with brass, this one was properly gilded. Not only that, but his chestplate was emblazoned with two suns intersecting. The royal crest.
She had found him.
Kajal stood to get the rebels’ attention. But as she waved her arms over her head, an icy hand grabbed her wrist.
The prince’s face appeared before hers, eyes blazing red.