Fruit of the Dead: A Novel

We rated this book:


I was so hopeful about this novel from Rachel Lyon, but Fruit of the Dead is a difficult read for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is its “reinvention of Persephone and Demeter’s story” which, if you don’t know it, will absolutely be lost on you as you read.

The central idea is solid: a young girl, Cory, goes off with a wealthy man, Rolo, who likely has nefarious intentions and her mother, Emer, proceeds to move heaven and earth to find Cory. There is some strong writing, some solid commentary related to the nature of mother/daughter relationships, and some powerful implications about middle aged men who think pursuing eighteen year old girls is appropriate. But, it is often difficult to track who is speaking due to a lack of quotation marks and speech tags (“I’m happy,” she said), so I spent a great deal of my reading in the state of re-reading, trying to figure out which character was speaking. And the choice to write in present tense doesn’t lend an urgency to the novel so much as it creates confusion regarding the timeline of events.

Lyon has skill, there is no doubt. The opening pages which recount a camp production of the Wizard of Oz is funny and smart if a little overwritten, and the poetic nature of some of the writing is lovely though, on occasion, tortured. I’m a high school teacher, and if one of my students turned in the sentence “A daydream knocks on the open door of her mind,” I’d tell them to edit and then resubmit which, ultimately, is what I think should have happened with Fruit of the Dead.

Reviewed By:

Author Rachel Lyon
Star Count 2/5
Format Hard
Page Count 320 pages
Publisher Scribner
Publish Date 05-Mar-2024
ISBN 9781668020852 Buy this Book
Issue March 2024
Category Popular Fiction