Title: Blood Scion
Author: Deborah Falaye
Review Copy: ARC from publisher
Availability: Available now
Summary: This is what they deserve. They wanted me to be a monster. I will be the worst monster they ever created.
Fifteen-year-old Sloane can incinerate an enemy at will—she is a Scion, a descendant of the ancient Orisha gods.
Under the Lucis’ brutal rule, her identity means her death if her powers are discovered. But when she is forcibly conscripted into the Lucis army on her fifteenth birthday, Sloane sees a new opportunity: to overcome the bloody challenges of Lucis training, and destroy them from within.
Sloane rises through the ranks and gains strength but, in doing so, risks something greater: losing herself entirely, and becoming the very monster that she abhors.
Review: This is a hard review to write because I really wanted to like Deborah Falaye’s debut novel. It seemed to have everything I would love – African mythology, magic, a fight against oppression, a strong Black lead, etc. Unfortunately, while it had a lot to love, the novel was just too violent for me. Deborah Falaye did give a trigger warning at the beginning of the book, which I appreciated because it prepared me for what I was about to read. Since I do enjoy a good thriller and a touch of horror, I felt I would be able to handle the violence in the book. I was wrong. I ended up not finishing the book because the violence became to brutal for me. Personally I stay away from stories & media that emphasize Black Pain and Blood Scion, for me, pushed that edge too much.
The world that Blood Scion takes place in is a world where the land the Yoruba people inhabited was invaded by the Lucis, and have now been in a constant war for at least a hundred years. The Lucis rule with military might over the people and use extremely brutal methods to control. Scions, like Sloane, are hunted down and killed, therefore she lives in hiding until she is drafted into the Lucis military. There she has to hide her powers in order to survive and succeed. It is here where I had to stop reading. For example, the first military test was for Sloane to killer her best friend, who it turns out was a Scion too, or allow herself to be killed. That is a horrible position for anyone, let alone a 15 year old, and the horrors continued on from there. She has to go on a mission to hunt down other Scions, one of which is a child. Within the military compound she witnesses children being beaten, assaulted, killed, etc, and after Sloane is whipped is where I stopped. Deborah Falaye stated that she wanted to make comment about child soldiers, but I feel like the book went too far with the violence. It was constant, seemingly to occur every few pages, and there didn’t seem to be a sense of hope. Based on the summary, I knew it was coming but my heart could not endure the journey to get there.
On the positive side, the world building that Falaye created was immense and very real. Sloane is a complex character, and I really did like her, empathize with her, and admired her strength to continue on in the face of such brutality. I also greatly loved how Falaye created the old Yoruban Kingdoms and how, through Sloane’s descriptions, really showed what had been lost and how the Shadow Rebels, remaining Yoruban’s fighting the Lucis, are working to maintain their culture. Sloane’s connection to her family and her history was a bright spot in the novel.
If based on my review you still feel like you want to read the book, by all means do so. If you are like me, then find a different read.