Cherie Priest

I am Princess X, by Cherie Priest

Cover Art for I Am Princess XBack when my son was in school, I noticed Cherie Priest’s YA novel I am Princess X [Amazon | B&N | IndieBound] in his Scholastic book order form. Naturally, I added that to the order we sent in!

Let’s start with the official summary from the publisher:

Once upon a time, two best friends created a princess together. Libby drew the pictures, May wrote the tales, and their heroine, Princess X, slayed all the dragons and scaled all the mountains their imaginations could conjure.

Once upon a few years later, Libby was in the car with her mom, driving across the Ballard Bridge on a rainy night. When the car went over the side, Libby passed away, and Princess X died with her.

Once upon a now: May is sixteen and lonely, wandering the streets of Seattle, when she sees a sticker slapped in a corner window.

Princess X? When May looks around, she sees the Princess everywhere: Stickers. Patches. Graffiti. There’s an entire underground culture, focused around a webcomic at IAmPrincessX.com. The more May explores the webcomic, the more she sees disturbing similarities between Libby’s story and Princess X online. And that means that only one person could have started this phenomenon — her best friend, Libby, who lives.

I stumbled a little in the beginning, because I’d gotten it into my head that this was a fantasy novel. Between the princess thing and the fact that Priest is known for SF/F… and the fact that I didn’t read the back of the book as closely as I should have. This is not speculative fiction. It’s YA mystery with a bit of a thriller feel.

It’s also a comic, which was cool. You get pages from the I Am Princess X webcomic interspersed between some of the chapters. I would have liked a bit more of the comic, but it made sense for it to end where it did, about 2/3 of the way through the book.

There’s no romance to speak of. The heart of the book is the friendship between May and Libby, which I liked a lot. I also appreciated the strained relationship between May and her father. May’s parents are divorced, and neither one of them is doing a great job of parenting. Her mother isn’t really part of the story, but I liked that her father was at least trying. Not always successfully, and he certainly messes up sometimes, but he wasn’t just a cardboard failure of a parent, or completely absent from the story.

Computer gurus Trick and Jackdaw were interesting characters as well, though they didn’t feel as well-rounded. But I’m not sure if I really wanted more of them, or if I prefer it this way, with the main focus on May and her story.

It was a little too dark for my son (he’s 11), but I enjoyed it.

You can read an excerpt here.

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Books!!!

It’s a new month, which means new books to read!  In a purely self-interested move, let’s start with the one that has my story in it.

* A Girl’s Guide to Guns and Monsters [B&N | Mysterious Galaxy | Amazon] is … well, pretty much what it sounds like. Urban fantasy women, weapons, and monsters.  Including my story “Heart of Ash,” also known as the werejaguar/dryad story.  Anton Strout and Tanya Huff also have stories in this one.

* Next up we have the mass market release of The Horsemen’s Gambit [B&N | Mysterious Galaxy | Amazon] by David B. Coe.  This is the sequel to Coe’s book The Sorcerers’ Plague.  As a Tor book, this one isn’t available from Amazon.  Fortunately, Barnes & Noble, Mysterious Galaxy, and your local bookstores are all there to take up the slack!  Read chapter one here.

* Cherie Priest has a trade paperback release out this week, with Fathom [B&N | Mysterious Galaxy | Amazon].  Another Tor book, and thus another contender for Sir Not Appearing at Amazon.com.  Publishers Weekly describes it as,  “A decidedly dark departure from Priest’s Eden Moore saga (Four and Twenty Blackbirds, etc.), this stand-alone novel is equal parts horror, contemporary fantasy and apocalyptic thriller.”

* Mark Henry‘s Happy Hour of the Damned [B&N | Mysterious Galaxy | Amazon] is out in mass market as well.  From Mark’s site, “There’s a campaign sweeping the internets to save my zombie diva from obscurity … What it boils down to is, Amanda Feral’s getting one more shot before the series gets nixed. My publisher is reissuing Happy Hour of the Damned, the first book in the series, in mass-market paperback for the paltry sum of $6.99.”  How can you refuse such a friendly-looking zombie?

* I missed posting the release of Jennifer Estep‘s book Spider’s Bite [B&N | Mysterious Galaxy | Amazon] last month because I suck.  This is the first in Estep’s new urban fantasy series about an assassin named Gin.  It’s an intense book, pulling no punches on the sex, violence, or darkness of Gin’s world.  I liked that we had more openly fantasy elements in the urban setting.  No vampires secretly living as mortals here; everything’s out in the open.  My biggest nitpick was an aspect of Gin’s magic — I lost suspension of disbelief when she was able to use ice lockpicks.  Estep is guest blogging and giving away a copy of the book at SciFiChick.com.

* Finally, we have Michelle West‘s latest novel, City of Night [B&N | Mysterious Galaxy | Amazon]. This is the second book in her House War series, the sequel to The Hidden City.  You can read the first chapter on West’s web site.

I’m sure I’ve missed some, but this is already getting long and link-heavy.  What else is out, and what have you been reading and enjoying lately?


Jim C. Hines