In a future dominated by a brutal, self-righteous empire, the old man, Jenchae, has been sentenced to death for speaking on behalf of his colonized people. When Elek, a murderer at the mercy of his own fury, is thrust into a prison cell with Jenchae, the aged revolutionary knows only that he wants to help him.
Mired in violence and loss since childhood, Elek has fought uncontrollable fits of rage all his life and left a trail of corpses behind him, including a woman he loved. Certain that his long years of struggle have taught him wisdom, Jenchae offers to bond telepathically with Elek to dampen his anger and bring him comfort. Longing for peace of mind, Elek reluctantly agrees, yet their telepathic bond and blossoming friendship are fraught with resentment. The deeper their bond grows, the more Elek questions Jenchae's motives. Jenchae once failed to help a dear friend overcome his violent urges. Elek wonders if Jenchae's concern for him is merely an attempt to correct that old failure.
With the arrival of a third prisoner, Meravyn, Elek must face his own guilt head on. Absurdly devoted to her ex-husband, Meravyn has forfeited her life by shooting down a ship attempting to detain him. While Meravyn struggles with her culpability as a killer, Elek sees in her his own dead lover, a woman he could not forgive for her devotion to another man. Elek finds himself reliving past mistakes through Meravyn, just as Jenchae relives his past through Elek. Together, through heartache, anger, humor, and compassion, the three stumble toward becoming their better selves in what may be the final hours of their lives.
The Hour before Morning unwraps the damage an empire unwittingly wreaks on the lives of its colonized peoples and explores the vast potential of the human heart to find hope and healing in the darkest places.
"Spicer's imaginative narrative will certainly pique the interest of those who enjoy top-notch world building." -Publishers Weekly
"[A] carefully paced, rewarding sci-fi debut." -Kirkus Indie