Mar 29
2019

Publishers Weekly starred review for The Toll

The Toll by Cherie Priest

“Priest (The Family Plot) spins a small, swampy urban legend into a riveting, swelteringly atmospheric story that questions just how far the residents of a Southern town will go to forget, or appease, a past they cannot bear to confront. Cameron Spratford has lived with his elderly cousins Claire and Daisy in Staywater, Ga., since his parents abandoned him there as a toddler. Although everyone in Staywater encourages Cam to leave, he is content to remain—until Titus Bell arrives. Titus and his wife, Melanie, are traveling through the Okefenokee Swamp when they arrive at a strange, one-lane bridge. Sometime later, Titus wakes up in the middle of the road, alone. He makes his way to Staywater and, while awaiting news of Melanie, begins to shake the secrets of the town loose. Cameron gradually discovers the truth about the bridge outside Staywater, the role Claire and Daisy played in bringing peace there once, and what they are willing to do to keep Cameron safe. Priest keeps the supernatural elements grounded by developing nuanced characters who feel as though they could walk off the page. Moody and mysterious, this gothic tale touches the heart even as it wraps chilly fingers around the spine.” — Publishers Weekly, Starred Review

Oct 10
2018

Locus on The Agony House

The Agony House by Cherie Priest

“This time she goes full creepy with a haunted house story set in New Orleans that also manages to throw in a hefty dose of the history of comic books and some thoughtful consideration of the issue of gentrification. Combined with Tara O’Connor’s illustrations, The Agony House blends ghostly visitations with classic mystery solving and serious social commentary to give readers a smart and surprisingly topical read.

Kudos to Priest for crafting a supernatural mystery that blends classic crime-solving with a thoroughly modern sensibility. The inclusion of sections with the actual pages from the Lucinda Might comic book, courtesy Tara O’Connor’s outstanding illustrations, was also a brilliant decision. The Agony House is a fast-paced read that tackles significant social issues while never deviating from its horror roots. This is how you give perceptive readers a good time: you don’t write down to them, you dish out the thrills and chills in a narrative that also makes some insightful assessment of how we live along the way. We need more of this in MG and YA fantasy, much much more.” — Locus Magazine

Sep 12
2018

Booklist starred review for The Agony House

The Agony House by Cherie Priest

“Following up on their successful collaboration in I am Princess X (2016), Priest and O’Connor neatly weave together the history of comic books and contemporary concerns about gentrification in this eerie ghost story set in a ramshackle house that’s as much a character as the people living in it. Denise, her mom, and stepdad have just moved into an nearly destroyed, once-beautiful house in New Orleans, and almost right away, Denise starts noticing odd things. First, they’re harmless, if creepy, but later, unexplained, dangerous accidents happen as they renovate the house. But the comic book manuscript Denise finds carefully hidden in the attic (pages of which appear throughout the novel) is the key to source of the poltergeists. Meanwhile, Denise’s neighbors are uneasy about outsiders capitalizing on cheap property in New Orleans, and Priest does a great job of skillfully including the important conversations Denise and her family have with their new community. At its heart, though, this is a ghost story, and Priest excels at building palpable atmosphere: Denise’s parents’ anxiety about their shoestring budget, the sweltering New Orleans summer heat, the disrepair of the house (“soggy plaster fell from the studs like wet cake”), and the increasingly terrifying haunting. Dynamic characters and a surprising mystery round out this sharp, satisfying, and engrossingly spooky story.” — Booklist, Starred Review

Jul 13
2018

Kirkus on The Agony House

The Agony House by Cherie Priest

“A white family’s attempts to renovate a storm-wracked Victorian New Orleans house are complicated by bitterly contending ghosts.

The resident spirits aren’t particularly reticent either, readily manifesting not only to 17-year-old Denise and her newlywed mother and stepfather, but to visiting neighbors as well—as a whiff of perfume, creeping shadows, a falling ceiling, and other ominous portents. But rather than being a stereotypical screamer, Denise has much in common (characterwise, at least) with intrepid, gun-toting Lucida Might, girl crime fighter and star of a 1950s manuscript comic Denise finds in the attic. Priest (Brimstone, 2017, etc.) ably weaves contemporary issues and a feminist strand into this fantasy as, while briskly fending off ghostly visitations and searching out clues to the house’s violent past, Denise makes new friends and encounters pushback from some St. Roch neighbors rightfully leery of white gentrifiers. Highlighted by a wonderfully melodramatic climax, the author brings her plotlines to upbeat resolutions with a thrilling discovery, a revelation about the comic’s author, and a degree of general community acceptance of Denise and her family. Nearly every character’s race, white or black, is carefully but unobtrusively specified. O’Connor (The Altered History of Willow Sparks, 2018) inserts multiple pages from the comic and atmospheric stand-alone illustrations all printed in haint blue. Conflicts, ectoplasmic and otherwise, laid to rest in a deliciously creepy setting.” — Kirkus

Dec 21
2017

Brimstone is one of NPR’s Best Books of 2017

Brimstone by Cherie Priest is one of NPR’s Best Books of 2017! Congratulations, Cherie!

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