FRIDAY SF & FANTASY – When Stars Come Out
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When Stars Come Out
Scarlett St. Clair
Publication date: October 31st 2018
Genres: Urban Fantasy, Young Adult
Anora Silby can see the dead and turn spirits into gold coins, two things she would prefer to keep secret as she tries to lead a normal life at her new school. After all, she didn’t change her identity for nothing.
As it turns out, hiding her weirdness is just one of many challenges. By the end of her first day, she’s claimed the soul of a dead girl on campus and lost the coin. Turns out, the coin gives others the ability to steal souls, and when a classmate ends up dead, there’s no mistaking the murder weapon.
Navigating the loss of her Poppa, her mother’s unpredictable behavior, and Roundtable, an anonymous student gossip app threatening to expose her, are hard enough. Now she must find the person who stole her coin before more lives are lost, but that means making herself a target for the Order, an organization that governs the dead on Earth–and they want Anora and her powers for themselves.
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A woman with blond hair and a pink blazer smiles at me.
“Can I help you?” Her voice sounds robotic, filtered through the round metal intercom.
“I’m new. I don’t have my schedule—”
“Oh! You must be Anora Silby!” She retrieves a folder from her desk and hands it to me via a small opening at the bottom of the glass barrier. “Inside you will find your schedule and your student handbook.”
I open the folder and stare at the materials. My schedule sits on top. I have already zoned in on my first hour: trigonometry…a.k.a. Hell.
“Be sure you are aware of curfew.”
“Oh, I don’t live on campus.”
“Curfew is countywide,” she advises. “No one’s to be outside after midnight.”
It takes the lady a moment to realize I’ve asked her a question. She blinks.
“It’s always been like that. Since the twenties. You know, after the murders.”
“No, actually…I don’t know,” I wave my folder around to remind her I’m the new girl.
“It’s nothing to be worried about,” the lady assures me. “There haven’t been any murders since then. The curfew’s just in place as…a precaution. It’s best if it’s obeyed.”
She says it like a warning, like she thinks I’m one to break the rules. I can understand curfew for campus, but why is it countywide?
“Would you like a guide to help you find your classes?” Her voice brightens, her smile intensifies. It looks fake, and I get the sense I’m not welcome anymore.
It’ll be nice to have a map of this place in case I get lost trying to avoid the dead. The lady disappears from view and I take a closer look at the pictures on the wall. I’m partly hopeful I’ll see a picture of the girl outside in one of the photos, but I don’t find her. The images are mostly of buildings on campus in their prime. Gold plates beneath the frames indicate the year they were built. My favorite is Rosewater—that sounds calming.
I run my fingers over the cold metal, tracing the name.
“You must be Anora Silby.” The voice is energetic and warm, but it startles me. I tear my hand away from the plate as if I’ve been caught stealing and yelp, twisting to find a boy standing beside me. He has striking blue eyes and sharp features. My gaze drops to his lips, which are initially pulled into a smile until I face him, then it falters.
“Sorry, I didn’t mean to startle you.”
I study him for a moment—lively eyes, faint color in his cheeks, and…warmth. He’s definitely alive. I guess I stare too long because he clears his throat and says, “Can I help you find your classes?”
“Oh…um…the lady was getting me a map.”
A smile stretches across his face again, brightening his expression. “I’m your map.” He extends his hand to me, keeping the other in his pocket. “Shy.”
I stare at his hand, confused—did he just call me shy?
He chuckles under his breath. “It’s my name—Shy Savior.”
“Oh.” My cheeks flame and I want to hide. I fumble as I cradle my folder in my arm and reach for his hand. “Anora Silby…er…I guess you knew that.”
“Yeah,” he breathes, and then quickly adds, “But that’s okay. You have a nice name.”
He doesn’t move his gaze from mine as he shakes my hand firmly, and it is a little unnerving, especially since the pigment of his eyes is so concentrated—seriously, he has to be wearing contacts.
“Um, are you going to let go of my hand?”
“Sorry.” He drops my hand and snakes his behind his neck. “It’s just…have we met?”
I laugh. “No. I think I would remember you, Blue Eyes.”
Shy smiles and turns the faintest shade of pink. “You just feel so familiar.”
“I hope I’m familiar in a good way.”
God. I’d have to say that, wouldn’t I?
I’m breaking my second rule: Absolutely no boys.
“Yes.” He narrows those gorgeous eyes and my resolve weakens. “Yes, only in a good way.”
I inhale and hug myself, feeling self-conscious.
“Mr. Savior, I think it’s about time Miss Silby made it to class,” the lady in the pink blazer advises from the counter.
Shy turns and smiles at her. “Yes. Sorry, Mrs. Cole.” He looks at me, clearing his throat. “So, what’s your first class?”
I’m glad the distraction gives me a reason to look away from him because my cheeks are on fire. I open my folder to look at my schedule. I’d seen it a few minutes ago but now, I can’t remember anything.
“Um, Mr. Val, trig … in Walcourt?”
“What?” I lean away to get a good look at his face, but he just shakes his head, eyes focused on my schedule.
“Nothing—what’s your locker number?”
Shy directs me out of the lobby, down a hallway flanked with a large trophy case and a couple bulletin boards covered with flyers for homecoming.
“The lockers, dorms, and cafeteria are all located here in Emerson,” he explains. “It’s a little inconvenient, but you just have to make sure you have everything you need for your first four classes before lunch,” he pauses and nods to my locker, then the one next to it. “That one’s mine.”
I smile at him and it feels like I’m falling into a trap. “I guess I’ll see more of you, then?”
“Yeah.” He grins, showing his teeth, and runs a hand through his blond hair. I like the way his eyes crinkle at the sides when he smiles, all things I shouldn’t notice about him, considering my rules. “Yeah, you will.”
Scarlett St. Clair lives in Oklahoma with her husband. She has a Master’s degree in Library Science and Information Studies and spends a lot of time researching reincarnation, unsolved murders and Greek mythology-all of which made it into her debut novel, When Stars Come Out.
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