Persephone Station by Stila Leicht is an emotional space opera. In Persephone Station, we follow a crew of mercs as they try to protect a planet from one psychotic woman.
Persephone Station is an uninhabitable planet except for Brynner, a city walled off from the rest of the planet. It is run by several crime bosses, although there is a government at work as well. This book starts with a conversation outside of the wall with Visalia and the Emissaries. We don’t quite know who the Emissaries are, but we do find out later. Later, we meet the mercenaries crew- Angel, Enid, Lou, Sukyi, and their boss- Rosie. They’ve been sent on a relatively upfront job, and things go awry. They meet Kennedy Liu, and odd sort- and little do they know, Kennedy is a sentient AGI.
“It’s funny that no matter how many times they pulled you back from the big black, death didn’t get any less scary.”
For a book that is not a series, this is so well rounded, with such in-depth characters. You find out the backstories of our main characters in a satisfying way, and you have time to become attached to them in different ways. The relationship between Angel and Sukyi wrecked me on levels I didn’t expect at all.
This story is intricate, and there are moments where I had no idea what was going on except “they/them mob boss and space.” (This is actually how I sold the book to Art at inkandplasma). Several plotlines were going on at once, and they all wrapped up in the last 90%- which, admittedly, was going to give me a heart attack.
“I am a veritable paragon of virtue and manners,” Sukyi said. “When am I not?”
Additionally, Leicht does a fantastic job of including representation and making it look effortless. There are non-binary and queer characters abundant. There’s even an underlying concept of the disrespect that people with viruses experience.
This crew all genuinely care for one another, and shows over and over again. The banter in the middle of a battle made me laugh during my anxiety, and I genuinely enjoyed the break from the stress the last 25% of this book gave me.
All in all, this was another significant step in the SciFi genre for me, and I’m thankful to Netgalley and the publisher for giving me a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.