Fruit of the Dead: A Novel (Hardcover)

Fruit of the Dead: A Novel By Rachel Lyon Cover Image

Fruit of the Dead: A Novel (Hardcover)


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“The Demeter and Persephone legend, placed in a modern setting with constant tension. The novel portrays all the power, control, corruption, and gender disparity in modern society and the unrelenting, visceral ferocity of a mother’s love.”
— Bill Cusumano , Square Books, Oxford, MS

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.
Rachel Lyon is the author of Fruit of the Dead and Self-Portrait with Boy, a finalist for the Center for Fiction’s First Novel Prize. An editor emerita for Epiphany, she has taught creative writing at the Sackett Street Writers Workshop, Bennington College, and other institutions. A native of Brooklyn, New York, Rachel lives in western Massachusetts with her husband and two young children. Visit  

Product Details ISBN: 9781668020852
ISBN-10: 1668020858
Publisher: Scribner
Publication Date: March 5th, 2024
Pages: 320
Language: English
"Alternating between the perspective of mother and daughter, we can indulge in the full thrill of being young, reckless, and newly independent—and the full propulsive terror of being older and knowing better. Though Lyon pulls the bones of the story from ancient mythology, the book’s characters are intensely—at times achingly—human and its plot is urgently contemporary." Oprah Daily

"Twisty and unsettling." —People 

"A mesmerizing, fantastic retelling of an ancient myth." Town and Country

“Superb... refreshing... Lyon twists the tale just enough to needle our conceptions of coercion and desire." —New York Times Book Review

"Gorgeous prose that’s so vivid and luminous it contrasts starkly with the darkness of the subject matter. Every sentence is a feast." —

“A Greek myth retelling! Wonders—and risks—abound.” —Elle
“A mesmerizing, fantastic retelling of an ancient myth.” —Town & Country
“Epic… Greek mythology enthusiasts will especially fall for this modern retelling of the myth of Persephone and Demeter.” —Lilith Magazine

“Riveting and lush…a spellbinding account of a young woman’s hunger for freedom, the sordid underbelly of big pharma, and the siren call of addiction.” —Leslie Jamison

"In lush, hallucinatory prose, Lyon narrates from the perspectives of both mother and daughter and evokes the classic myth without distracting readers from the striking contemporary setting and subject matter." Booklist, Starred Review

"Irresistible... brilliantly told... an affecting, engrossing, and resonant tale about lost innocence and the enduring bond between a mother and daughter.” Publisher's Weekly, Starred Review

"Lyon’s skillful and luscious prose encourages empathy... an affecting novel with touches of the fantastical, weaving explorations of power, youth, wealth, and familial love." Kirkus, Starred Review

"A gripping literary thriller, Fruit of the Dead presents a coming-of-age tale that is so well-observed and intoxicating that the reader will lose track of time, but won't forget how they spent it. Jennifer Egan and Emma Cline fans: assemble." —Caoilinn Hughes, author of The Wild Laughter

"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, author of Exhibit and The Incendiaries

"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, author of The Butchers

"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, author of The Mere Wife

“Irresistible and devastating. I devoured Fruit of the Dead in a single day. Lyon has spun an utterly absorbing, lush, and terror-laced retelling of an ancient, archetypal tale—a young woman tempted and taken, a mother’s feral grief—that is both timeless and crisply contemporary." —Melissa Febos, author of Girlhood
"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, author of Disappearing Earth

"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, author of Saint X

"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, author of Back Talk

"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, author of Florence in Ecstasy