Excerpt from Black Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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Black Sun

Between Earth and Sky #1

by Rebecca Roanhorse

Black Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse X
Black Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse
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  • Published:
    Oct 2020, 464 pages


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Book Reviewed by:
Debbie Morrison
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Print Excerpt

"It's time." She stood, her face flushed with excitement, and held out a hand. "Are you ready?"

He was too old to hold her hand like a baby, but he was scared enough of what came next that he pressed his palm against hers and wrapped his fingers around tight, seeking comfort. She led him outside onto the stone terrace where the late-season winds chilled his bare skin.

The view was a feast for the eye. From here they could see the valley, still clinging to the golds and crimsons of late fall. Beyond them squatted the high jagged mountains where the ice never melted. He had spent many afternoons here, watching hawks circle the village that sat just on the edge of the valley, dropping pebbles off the ledge to watch them shatter to dust on the rocky cliffs below. It was a place of fond memories, of good thoughts.

"So cloudy," his mother fretted, her hand still wrapped around his, "but look, it changes even as we prepare." She beamed, showing her bloody teeth.

She was right. He watched as the sky cleared to reveal a tattered sun, hunched like a dull watery ball atop the mountains. And to its side, a darkness loomed.

The boy's eyes widened in alarm. Mama had told him the crow god would come today, but he had not fathomed the horror of its visage.

"Look at the sun, Serapio," she said, sounding breathless. "I need you to look at the sun."

He did as he was told and watched with a growing terror as it began to disappear.

"Mama?" he asked, alarmed, hating that his voice sounded high and frightened.

"Don't look away!" she warned.

He would not. He had endured her knife and her poison, and he would endure the needle soon, too. He could master the sun.

But his eyes began to water and sting.

"Steady," she murmured, squeezing his hand.

His eyes ached, but his mother tugged the delicate skin of his eyelids with her fingernails to keep them open. He cried out as she grazed his eyeball, and instinct more than desire made him buck. She pulled him tight, arms like a vise and fingers gripping his jaw.

"You must look!" she cried. And he did, as the crow god ate the sun.

When all that was left was a ring of trembling orange fire around a hole of darkness, his mother released him.

He rubbed at his stinging eyes, but she slapped his hands away. "You've been so brave," she said. "You must not fear now."

The edge of a bubbling panic crawled up his spine at what was to come next. His mother did not seem to notice.

"Hurry now," she said, ushering him back inside, "while the crow god holds sway over the world."

She pressed him to sitting in the high-backed chair. His limbs had grown heavy and his head light, no doubt from the poisoned cup. The panic that had tried to rise died on a soft, terrified half-moan.

She bound his feet to the legs of the chair and wrapped the cords around his body until he could not move. The rope stung where the haahan were still raw.

"Keep your eyes closed," she warned.

He did, and after a moment, he felt something wet press along the line of his eyelashes. It was cold and deadened the skin. His lids felt so weighted that he did not think he could open them again.

"Listen to me," his mother said. "Human eyes lie. You must learn to see the world with more than this faulty organ."

"But how?"

"You will learn, and this will help." He felt her slip something into his pocket. It was a bag like the one she wore around her neck. He could just reach it if he wiggled his fingers, feeling the fine powder inside. "Hide this, and use it only when you need it."

"How will I know when I need it?" he asked, worried. He didn't want to fail her.

"You will learn, Serapio," she said, voice gentle but firm. "And once you have, you must go home to Tova. There you will open your eyes again and become a god. Do you understand?"

He didn't understand, not really, but he said yes anyway.

Excerpted from Black Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse. Copyright © 2020 by Rebecca Roanhorse. Excerpted by permission of Gallery Books. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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