Book Review: Persephone Station by Stina Leicht

  • Title: Persephone Station
  • Author: Stina Leicht
  • Publisher: Gallery/Saga Press
  • Publication Day: January 5, 2021
  • Where to buy: Amazon (affiliate link)
  • Genre: Sci-Fi, Space Opera
  • My rating: 3.5 stars

From Goodreads:

Persephone Station, a seemingly backwater planet that has largely been ignored by the United Republic of Worlds, becomes the focus for the Serrao-Orlov Corporation as the planet has a few secrets the corporation tenaciously wants to exploit.

Rosie—owner of Monk’s Bar, in the corporate town of West Brynner—caters to wannabe criminals and rich Earther tourists, of a sort, at the front bar. However, exactly two types of people drank at Monk’s back bar: members of a rather exclusive criminal class and those who sought to employ them.

Angel—ex-marine and head of a semi-organized band of beneficent criminals, wayward assassins, and washed up mercenaries with a penchant for doing the honorable thing—is asked to perform a job for Rosie. What this job reveals will affect Persephone and put Angel and her squad up against an army. Despite the odds, they are rearing for a fight with the Serrao-Orlov Corporation. For Angel, she knows that once honor is lost, there is no regaining it. That doesn’t mean she can’t damned well try. 

My review:

I love a good space opera. When I read the description, it called to mind Joss Whedon’s Firefly, and I thought, oh, heck yes, I must read this! It also interested me because I’ve realized that my reading material is sometimes lacking in diversity, and it’s good to expand one’s horizons. So, space opera, female protagonists (and antagonists), broadening my reading universe – all good things. I was excited to get started!

The actual reading, though, didn’t hook me quite as much as I’d thought. It took a good chunk of the book – maybe 25-30% – for the story to really grab hold of me. The early portion focused on giving the reader a lot of information without doing a great job of using that information to build and develop the setting.

Once I got past that first part, the book was more engaging and read much more quickly. It had some fairly standard sci-fi tropes – the evil corporation looking to take over a vulnerable planet while trying not to look like a villain, the criminal with a heart of gold, artificial intelligence. It also had a lot of ripping good battle scenes, if those are your jam.

The characters were also interesting, for the most part. I was particularly intrigued by Kennedy, the AI who can apparently take human form. I would have liked to know more about her and her sisters, who were apparently not in human form. What’s their backstory? And I won’t give away what happened, but there were some parts of the story that just made me tear up. And if you’re looking for diversity in your cast of characters, you’ll find it here. Gay, non-binary, people of color, they’re all here. The only thing I found distracting was that Rosie’s pronouns were they/them, and in scenes where Rosie’s point of view was used as well as the point of view of any other group of characters, it sometimes became a bit muddled to figure out to whom “they” or “them” was referring.

But some things I didn’t really understand. What was with the sickness that we read about? Why was exposure to the Emissaries deadly for humans? If Vissia was sick and going to die, why wasn’t she a candidate for revivification? It would have been nice to have those questions answered more fully. Is Ms. Leicht going to write a sequel? Maybe so. If she does, I might read it.

Persephone Station gets three and a half stars from me. The story itself gets three stars, and I bump it up a half-star for Ms. Leicht’s excellent creative use of the English language. She does turn an entertaining phrase! It might be worth picking up if you’re a sci-fi fan and can handle finishing a book and feeling like there are loose ends still hanging.

Thanks to NetGalley and Gallery/Saga Press for an advance reader copy. All opinions here are mine, and I don’t say nice things about books I don’t actually like.

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