Jennifer Marie Brissett’s 2021 Destroyer of Light is a stand-alone science fiction novel.
Centuries earlier the trans-dimensional krestge decided that humans were potential dangers too alarming to tolerate. They methodically exterminated humanity on Earth. Humans could not resist. A few humans, a mere remnant of the pre-genocide population, was permitted to settle on a distant, tide-locked world that humans called Eleusis.
Conceived on Earth, Cora does not remember the lost home of humanity. It is a shame, therefore, that the only world she has known is such a nightmare.
The refugees arrived with the means to provide for everyone. The first people to arrive realized that they could set themselves very comfortably if they commandeered most of the supplies and let later arrivals suffer. Humans on Eleusis have re-created the same haves vs have-nots arrangements that had been familiar on Earth.
The population is now divided into three classes: Day is rich, Dusk lives hand-to-mouth, and as for Night… They live in the three zones of the tide-locked world. Day has sunlight; Dusk lives in the penumbra; Night lives in darkness.
Too bad for the folk of Dusk, already poor and oppressed, that they are being raided by insurgents based in Night. The insurgents want children who can be brutalized and indoctrinated. Anyone too young or too old is murdered. They’re the Lord’s Armyanalog on Eleusis.
Cora, our protagonist, was one of the unfortunates carried off to Night, where she is raped and brutalized. Then she is noticed by Okoni, the leader of the gang. Okoni believes that Cora can become a weapon against the hated krestge, who have approached the humans of Day with soft talk and sweet words, as though their earlier attempt at genocide had never happened.
Okoni attempts to mold Cora into an agent who will never defy him. He believes he has succeeded. Cora is dispatched to Day, there to carry out Okoni’s schemes.
Cora is indeed the weapon Okoni envisioned. She is not, however, the obedient servant he believes he created. She is free of his direct control and can act of her own volition.
There will be consequences.
Wow, parts of this are very off-putting. Particularly the child soldier tactics. Okoni’s forces have to keep recruiting because they bleed soldiers, lost in fights or killed by their bosses if deemed insufficiently loyal. This is all entirely within the norms of human behavior, but unpleasant to read. Granted, the book comes with a warning up front about sexual violence, but there’s so much more that’s painful.
On the matter of the krestge: it’s not out of the bounds of possibility that there’s a historical precedent for powerful entities who having done everything in their power to crush another group, now expect the descendants of their victims to be besties. Who seem, in fact, a bit put out that the humans seem obsessed with that whole attempted genocide deal. Who reserve the right to engage in violent reprisal should the humans seem too cranky. In fact, there are a lot of precedents but I would be willing to make a guess at which one the author had in mind.
The narrative is a bit frustrating in that while those whose crimes were off-stage are subject to reprisal, the worst humans, whose atrocities occur where the reader can see them, generally skirt punishment. The rich are going to continue hording the wealth, while Okoni’s fate, I regret to report, is not half as disappointing to him as it should be. The Duskers will keep paying to keep Day and Night happy. I suppose there’s historical precedent for that as well.
This wasn’t my cup of tea, but some of you may like it.