Scion: Dawn of midnight

A debut novel by Chellé Luckie

Scion: Dawn of Midnight. Global Book Publishing, 2023.

Astra wakes up from a nightmare. Her father, Victor, is readily by her side, to give comfort, while her mother, Elisabeth, is ready to battle: enough is enough she says. Evaline can not keep failing classes because her sister keeps waking her up in the middle of the night when she is having nightmares. He is dead, says her sister, stopping living your life won’t bring him back, especially because he wasn’t your boyfriend but your best friend’s boyfriend. That doesn’t make it any less painful, replies Astra. We will then find out that this mysterious ‘he’ has a name, Azazel.

The next morning, Astra walks downstairs to a surprise: at the breakfast bar sits Tracy, her best friend and Azazel’s girlfriend, who came to pick her up to go to school. It’s been a month since Azazel’s death, and during this time Astra barely left her room, didn’t go to school and avoided all her friends, including Tracy. It’s time for her to react, insists Tracy.

But once the two girls are alone in the car, Tracy drops the act and pulls a bottle from under her seat. She is drinking again. The two girls start to talk about Azazel’s last minutes: he took Astra to the Old Lady Bella, but we don’t know why. What we know though is that Astra is researching this place called Hiboria, which is potentially dangerous, the Carabinieri are taking their sweet time to conduct their investigations and while Astra thinks Azalea was affiliated with the Kipi, Tracy says that someone in the Shikka must be involved instead.

“You know what’s not cool?” Tracy hissed, “You! Your mother is the ice queen bitch of the Shikka who has cursed more of the Kipi’s children than I can count. Your uncle is the dark prince—a tyrannical investigator who causes most of his victims to commit suicide afterward. And then Gabe—”

“Shut your mouth,” Astra warned, unbuckling her seatbelt. “Anyone but him!”

Astra snaps, pointing a finger at her friend. The Kipi is composed of Gio adults — adults whose megin hasn’t awaken yet. Everyone has megin. Most people just don’t have enough for an affinity— or enough to manipulate majik. But what if what happened to Azalea is connected to my megin? wonders Astra. If my megin was activated, would Tracy hate me too? Astra’s mother is a Bahkir with an affinity for Cryokinesis. Her father is a Gio, like herself and Evaline, but they are still expected to turn because of how strong their mother and uncle are. Well, Astra tries to reassure herself, next year is the year of the truth. If it doesn’t happen then, it won’t happen at all… or usually this is what happens to others.

In class, Astra meets Troy, who seems surprised to see her. He also asks her about what she told the Carabinieri, but she doesn’t remember. We learn a bit more about the word Astra lives in when she meets another classmate.

Gabriel stretched as he walked out of his first class with his new charge taking her time trailing behind him. It amused him how interested she was with the mundane structure of a Gio’s life. It bored him to tears. Gio had the luxury of understanding and knowing the details of the life of a Bahkir because the megin would only sometimes activate in their body. Scientists weren’t sure if it was a matter of anatomy, genetics, or a stressor that causes the megin to activate. They only knew it to lie within all, and like other genetic traits, it could remain dormant for one generation and grow stronger than ever in the next.

In the middle of class, Astra is called out and when she arrives, Azazel’s sister and a Carabinieri are waiting for her. Right behind here, there is Gabriel, listening. Azael’s sister starts moving accusations about Astra killing her brother and it’s too much for Astra, who releases her veil, a psychic form of magic that can stop others. Victor, Astra’s father, is in school as well and promptly arrives to stop her. Only then he notices a light coming off her chest: it’s a sigil to her megin that her mother set up.

Astra passes out and her father calls her mother to ask why. I didn’t put that sigil, she says. It’s a very good replica of mine, but I can assure you it’s not mine. Whoever did it, though, did it with a specific purpose, which is to stop Astra. Partially convinced, but not totally reassured by the explanation, Victor picks up Evaline too and the three of them go to a place called Kora’s Temple. It’s basically a strip club, despite the fancy name. Inside, he asks for Rita, the owner, he needs her help. Astra is rapidly blue.

“She was and will always be a Kipi,” Tirany snapped, ignoring Lionel’s shaking head.

Rita takes Astra to another place, where there is a whole new lot of people, we hardly know anything about. They are involved in something, but we don’t know who they are or what they are doing nor why.

We discover something more about Old Lady Bella, though: she is the owner of a shop where lines and lines of belladonna fill the walls. She also is Azazel grandmother.

The big mistery we need to work out is Astra’s megin, and how she woke it up the night Azazel died. What actually happened that night? And why can’t Astra remember? 

During the ritual that will remove, or at least attempt to remove, the two sigils that are interfering with Astra’s memory and life, another entity takes possession of her, and she wakes up in Limbus. This will only lead to a long streak of events, where multiple characters will chase, help and disrupt each other’s path only to reach an unforeseen conclusion.  

The story itself is quite interesting: there are many innovative elements, a good combination of real world and fantasy, a good pace. However, there are too many characters, and most of them have no roots, they fly high like kites in the sky. When narrating about a supernatural or fantastic world, it’s important to explain to readers the set of rules they will encounter during the book. A few, very specific, very detailed lines that will set the tone from the very first pages. We feel that in this book, instead, we get to a point where several names start popping up but no one knows who these characters are.

While we appreciated the fast pace, at time, though, it was too fast, and narration has been sacrificed for the sake of action, making the book an infinite sequel of events quickly happening one after the other. There are also too many chapters ending with a cliffhanger, but there is no building up to them, which made us question why they were there in the first place.

Overall, we are under the impression that being a debut novel, perhaps the pressure to publish fast might have gotten in the way of crafting a better thought through book, which is honestly a shame.

SCION: Dawn of Midnight is available for purchase here.

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