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Destroyer of Light Puts Persephone in Space

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In Dusk, humans and krestsge coexist in relative harmony. But outside the city, humans—some who have never seen krestge in person—have much more disdain for the mysterious aliens. It is unclear to anyone why they followed humans to Eleusis, and the ambiguity of their intentions make them an ominous presence.

The story follows Cora, a young woman with a unique and powerful gift. Twins with uncanny abilities of their own, contracted to find the missing child of a human and krestge couple. An intelligence who sees all but cannot interfere. And a mother, moved to grief at the loss of her daughter. These characters’ individual journeys intersect and overlap as their stories begin to converge. And as we explore Eleusis from each of their varying perspectives, we uncover the truth of their abilities, and learn more about the world they inhabit.

“I began the structure of the book using index cards and a numbering system that helped me to keep track,” says Brissett of the writing process, which involved intricate science fiction worldbuilding. “Then as the book began to take shape, I pulled the scaffolding away like building a Roman arch.” The characters’ stories are separate but intertwined, distinct but connected, and cover large spans of time, though taking place all at once. “The story occurs in a single moment and what we read is the perspective of two entities entwining,” continues Brissett. “They come together and experience the past, the present, and the future all at once in the ‘Here and Now.’”

Destroyer of Light is not just about the fraught relationship between humans and krestge, it is also a story of survival—and hope. And it is told along the framework of the Persephone story. In Greek mythology, Persephone is abducted by Hades into the Underworld where she became his unconsenting bride. Her mother, Demeter, is so distraught by her daughter’s disappearance that she destroys the harvest and plunges the world into famine. Eventually, Zeus would decree that Persephone spend one-third of the year in the Underworld, which she is bound to because she ate its food. The rest of the year would be spent with her mother on Earth. 

To be honest, I didn’t think, oh, here’s a myth that I would like to retell,” says Brissett of the reimagining. “It was kinda the other way around. I had an idea for a story about two women – a mother and daughter. The Eleusinian Mysteries naturally came to mind, or at least it naturally came to my mind. As I began to structure the novel, I could see the myth fitting into it. The more I worked, the more I found interesting aspects of the myth that I could use … So which came first, the myth or the story? I would say the story. The myth simply helped it along and, I believe, gave the story more resonance.”

In Destroyer of Light, Stefonie is raised by the warlord, Okoni, who takes her for his bride after she and other children are forcefully recruited into his militia. The book does not look away from her plight, and interspersed throughout are several depictions of sexual assault. The book includes a content warning, which Brissett insisted on because she felt that it was important to give a heads up to readers about these scenes. Those warnings should be heeded.

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