Book Reviews

Persephone Station, by Stina Leicht

Rating at a Glance…

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

A backwater planet in the middle of nowhere is about to be the starting point for a conflict that involves a convoluted cast of characters. From crime lords to government officials, with a handful of mercenaries, aliens, and hyper-intelligent AI’s thrown into the mix. This is the story of a rag-tag bunch of honorable killers, intent on saving the day, getting paid, and maybe doing the right things along the way. The cast is heavy on female and non-binary leads, the romance is non existent, and the pacing tight, but did it live up to what is was compared to? Read on to find out!

What It’s About…

At it’s core, it’s a story about a group of mercs with questionable ethics but hearts of gold, who are put in an impossible situation and essentially told to take on an army. But it’s also a story of friendship, trust, and betrayal, with a healthy serving of alien creatures, mechs, and drinking coffee thrown in for good measure. Our three main leads are Rosie- a nonbinary former Catholic Missionary who has been on Persephone for a long, long time. No longer leading the religious life, they instead own and manage Monks, a shady bar with an even shadier back room. Next up is Angel, a former member of an elite group of militant scholars and body guards with a ship I’m really into. And finally there is Kennedy, and Kennedy… well… let’s just say I can’t tell you much about her, other than she’s very unique, and very special, and her very existence is illegal. The three of them are up against Vissia- Rosie’s former friend and fellow missionary, and the head of Serrao-Orlov, a large corporation that has been exploiting some of Persephone’s original residents, until she decides it’s time to wipe them out completely. What ensues is a battle against the odds, where Angel, her ship the Kurosawa, and a motley assortment of friends/crew mates and allies go toe to toe with a highly trained army of mech-wearing mercenaries.

How I Felt About it…

This story was so close to being amazing- teetering on the very edge of greatness, and I think a lot of that has to do with needing a little more time with the characters. I liked Angel a lot, was getting there with Kennedy, and while Rosie is a complicated character, I felt like I could have really enjoyed them more if their motivations and feelings had been a little more transparent. Not to mention the side plot involving Kennedy felt like it deterred from the main plot of the story for the first part of the narrative, and it wasn’t evident till later what the purpose of this side plot was. When it did make itself known, it felt a little shoe horned. Perhaps I missed some foreshadowing that could have warned me as to what was to come, but when it’s revealed what the antagonist has been doing, I wasn’t impacted greatly because it seemed like a bit of a bait and switch. While I don’t want to spoil anything for future readers, I think if the side plot had involved a much more independent and active approach from Kennedy, it would have come across as a little less contrived.
That being said, I really enjoyed the pacing of the story, not to mention Angel and her interactions with her ship. Of all the characters, Angel felt the most fleshed out and relatable, so it’s a good thing we spend most of our time reading from her perspective.
Besides a singular moment that confused me because it never seemed to serve a purpose or resolve itself, this was a coherent plot with an interesting set up, and I can see where people are coming from when they make comparisons to both Cowboy Bebop and Magnificent Seven– these are criminals with hearts of gold, who are desperate for higher pay, more sleep, and more coffee. I really enjoyed how all the major players were female or non-binary; it never felt forced or contrived, just refreshing. All in all it was an enjoyable read with a few surprises and a likeable cast- though I’m curious if their stories will continue. Especially in the case of Kennedy, where there is a lot of set up for her continuing her journey.

You Should Read it if…

You like your space dramas grungy and desperate, with plenty of long shots and stacked odds, questionable allies and true friends. It’s also great if you just want to read something action packed, relatively light, and completely lacking a male presence. The characters are enjoyable, if not in need of a few more pages of back story and fleshing-out, and the planet is interesting, especially as you come to learn more about it’s natural habitats, past, and native inhabitants. Kurosawa is a great ship, and coffee is a great drink.

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6 thoughts on “Persephone Station, by Stina Leicht

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