Title: Persephone Station
Author: Stina Leicht
Publisher: Gallery / Saga Press
Publication Date: Jan. 5 2021
Genres: Science Fiction
Shelves: Female-authored, Female-fronted
If you can get stick with it through the first third of the book – it’s a bit of a slog that manages to both info dump on characters and yet hold back on world-building – Persephone Station is a pretty kickass bit of dark-and-gritty space opera.
Stina Leicht has crafted a fiercely feminist work of science fiction that is almost entirely populated by women, one of whom is casually introduced as transgender, another of whom is boldly non-binary, and all of whom are damaged in some way. The relationships between them vary from strained trust to unshakable friendship to anxious love, but they feel genuine and the way they come together in the second half of the book is where the story shines brightest. They’re all assassins and mercenaries and soldiers, on the wrong side of the law but, like the best anti-heroines, they only do bad things for good reasons.
Like I said, the world-building is a bit lacking in the how/why department, but I love that we get cool aliens, an awesome exploration of artificial intelligence, and some fantastic details surrounding terminal illnesses in a world where resurrection is possible. The action scenes are visually explosive, with some very cool bits and pieces of technology, and even the dramatic bits tend to be explosive, with bombs and guns always at the ready. Once it gets going, once it gets beyond that initial slog, the pace is almost breakneck, careening along towards an ending that wasn’t what I expected, but certainly fitting.
The writing here is strong, making for a very easy read, and the dialogue is not just quips and comments, but part of the overall spirit. I really liked the characters, especially Kennedy, who may be the best AI character I’ve encountered in years, and Sukyi, the terminally ill black woman with a passion for explosives, whose friendship with Angel shapes much of the novel. Even Enid, the coldly quiet assassin, is revealed to be a character whom you can’t help but love. I quickly found myself invested in their struggles, and I kept reading as much for them as for the story.
Rating: ♀ ♀ ♀ ♀
My sincere thanks to the publisher for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review.