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Fruit of the Dead

A novel by

An electric contemporary reimagining of the myth of Persephone and Demeter set over the course of one summer on a lush private island, about addiction and sex, family and independence, and who holds the power in a modern underworld.

Camp counselor Cory Ansel, eighteen and aimless, afraid to face her high-strung single mother in New York, is no longer sure where home is when the father of one of her campers offers an alternative. The CEO of a Fortune 500 pharmaceutical company, Rolo Picazo is middle-aged, divorced, magnetic. He is also intoxicated by Cory. When Rolo proffers a childcare job (and an NDA), Cory quiets an internal warning and allows herself to be ferried to his private island. Plied with luxury and opiates manufactured by his company, she continues to tell herself she’s in charge. Her mother, Emer, head of a teetering agricultural NGO, senses otherwise. With her daughter seemingly vanished, Emer crosses land and sea to heed a cry for help she alone is convinced she hears.

Alternating between the two women’s perspectives, Rachel Lyon’s
Fruit of the Dead incorporates its mythic inspiration with a light touch and devastating precision. The result is a tale that explores love, control, obliteration, and America’s own late capitalist mythos. Lyon’s reinvention of Persephone and Demeter’s story makes for a haunting and ecstatic novel that vibrates with lush abandon. Readers will not soon forget it.

Genre: Literary Fiction

Praise for this book

"A brilliant and luminous reimagining of the Persephone myth. Lyon explores power, consent, motherhood, capitalism, and addiction, in prose as lush and entrancing as her book's seductive island setting. Incantatory and razor-sharp, Fruit of the Dead casts a powerful spell." - Jessie Chaffee

"Ancient Greece meets Succession by way of Emma Cline, Fruit of the Dead is a deliciously dark examination of agency and power, and the savage complexity of the mother-daughter bond." - Ruth Gilligan

"A brutal, brilliant reimagining of the Persephone/Demeter story, shifted seamlessly into a 21st-century thriller of addiction. My heart was pounding for teenage Cory, coerced into a billionaire's Hades, and for her mother, who dismantles her own compromised life to bring her daughter back from the brink. Fruit of the Dead is a scathing and stunning indictment of patriarchal mythology." - Maria Dahvana Headley

"Mesmerized and profoundly alarmed, I read this in one go; I've been haunted by it ever since. I've passionately loved Lyon's writing for years, and Fruit of the Dead further confirms what I've long suspected: I want to lunge to read anything she writes." - R O Kwon

"Rachel Lyon's genius, alluring novel is a mythic and modern love story: between mother and daughter, between a young woman and the danger she needs to experience, between her darkest and brightest selves. I read with my heart in my throat and my breath held, a total glutton for its sentences and Cory's propulsive, sparkling, and often terrifying journey." - Danielle Lazarin

"Opulent and unsettling, Fruit of the Dead explores the island where ancient myth meets the contemporary body. This story is vivid, shocking, evocative. It is both of this time and outside it. It is purely Rachel Lyon. It is wonderful." - Julia Phillips

"In hallucinatory prose, Rachel Lyon evokes a world lush with pleasure and peril. She has an uncanny grasp on what it is to be a teenage girl, caught between the safety of a mother's love and the alluring offerings of adulthood. An all-consuming fever-dream of a novel, Fruit of the Dead pulls you under and refuses to let go." - Alexis Schaitkin

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