Roan Harken considers herself a typical high school student — dead parents, an infected eyeball, and living in the house of her estranged, currently comatose grandmother (well, maybe not so typical) — but she’s uncovering the depth of the secrets her family left behind. When a powerful fox spirit saves Roan's life from Death itself, she must learn to harness an ancient power to battle the snake-monster Zabor, who lies in wait in the Assiniboine River, hungry for her yearly sacrifice.
American Gods meets Princess Mononoke in Scion of the Fox, the first instalment of S. M. Beiko's YA fantasy trilogy, The Realms of Ancient. Below you'll find a Reader's Guide, which includes ten discussion questions to inspire you dig deeper into the series!
(WARNING: Major spoilers ahead!)
Reader's Guide: Scion of the Fox
1. Of the Five Families, which do you think you would belong to and why? Is that the Family you’d want to be in?
2. Roan often calls out the Chosen One narrative that’s hijacked her life. What other Chosen One stories do you know? In what ways is Roan’s the same or different?
3. Roan gets a new eye that allows her to see previously invisible things — something that happens to all of us (metaphorically) as we grow up. Have there been times in your life that you’ve suddenly paid attention to things you’d never really noticed?
4. While Roan longs for her parents and feels as if she doesn’t have a real family, she ultimately discovers she’s created a family of her own: “I looked round to the lot of them. My friends. My new family, mixed and ragtag as it was. But still mine” (334). Why do you think the “family of choice” trope is so popular and important? Why are parents so often absent in young adult novels?
5. Roan’s friends each bring their own powers to the gang, but they also each have non-magic qualities that help Roan on her mission. What human assets do they bring?
6. When Heen restores Barton’s power, she doesn’t restore his legs. Were you surprised? Why do you think the author made this choice?
7. More than one character in the book starts as an enemy but becomes an ally. What were the key events that helped make that transformation happen?
8. Roan’s first encounter with the Moth Queen is terrifying. The next time Roan meets the Moth Queen in the hospital, she is no longer afraid, and finds comfort in Death’s presence:
Though it had been only a vague memory in the passing weeks, the comfort of the Moth Queen’s darkness came back to me. The reliability of it. The peace. She was offering me a way out from the responsibility, from the consequences of failing. She was here to grant my wish.I wanted it. My whole body screamed, Yes. Please. Make it stop. (319)
What does this shift say about Roan’s journey? Did you have a different understanding of the Moth Queen with this visit?
9. Roan is the narrator for most of the novel, with interjections in the present tense from other characters throughout. Why do you think the final chapter before the epilogue is told from Eli’s perspective? What purpose does this switch have?
10. The novel ends with a cliffhanger, revealing that Zabor wanted to be sent back to the Bloodlands all along and Roan and her friends fed into her plan. Who do you think the man in the Edinburgh subway station is?
Scion of the Fox is in stores October 17, 2017, and available online wherever books are sold. Learn more at ecwpress.com/scion-of-the-fox!