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When Stars Come Out by Scarlett St. Clair

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 mistrust, 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.
Source: I received a free copy of this book and opted to post a review. Genre: Fantasy, Paranormal, Urban
Pub. Date: October 31, 2018

Front cover image of WHEN STARS COME OUT by Scarlett St. Clair


Anora Silby is anything but typical; she can see the dead and turn souls into gold coins. After an incident at her previous school, Anora and her mother move to a new town to make a fresh start. The problem is, Anora's peers are also not typical teenagers; their mission is to protect the souls that have yet to move on. After Anora is forced to use her abilities on the ghost of a former student that hangs around her new school's campus, her peers notice that the student's ghost is missing. It's only a matter of time before they discover who is behind the ghost's disappearance and uncover Anora's secret.

When I read the blurb, I thought this book had a "grim reaper-in-training" vibe. I was so wrong, and it's definitely not what I expected! Elements of the plot are inspired by Greek mythology; some adhere to the well-known interpretations of Greek myths while others are imaginative elaborations of their mythological counterparts. This is not a critique of the differences between the academic perspectives and St. Clair's perspective of Greek mythology, merely an observation.

At first, the premise doesn't seem terribly unique; however, it becomes apparent after the first couple of pages that St. Clair has deviated from the typical "teenager hiding some sort of paranormal secret" trope to create a rare and fascinating world. It's a hauntingly beautiful world in which all is not what it seems and there are surprises around every corner of the exquisitely detailed landscape.

There was something about St. Clair's style that appealed to me, but I couldn't quite put my finger on until a couple of days after I finished the book, then it dawned on me. While the book features young adult characters, the tone of the book seemed to target adult readers. I've read quite a few novels for adults about young adults, and the word choices and tone are generally better suited for a young adult audience. While some may argue that St. Clair's characters are too mature to be realistic, I disagree. It made perfect sense to me that the teenagers in the book were mature beyond their years because they were groomed from a young age to become protectors.

I connected more with Anora than the other characters. It's not that the other characters came across as two-dimensional, it's just that St. Clair focused more on developing Anora's character and backstory than the other characters' stories. I also appreciated how St. Clair gives readers a peek into the alternate society she created while withholding enough information to demonstrate to readers that this will be the first in a series of books.

If you're looking for something different in the paranormal fantasy genre, give When Stars Come Out a try; you won't be disappointed!

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About Scarlett St. Clair

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 (Oct 2018). 

Book review of WHEN STARS COME OUT by Scarlett St. Clair