Next SFF Author: Christopher Priest
Previous SFF Author: Susan Price

SFF Author: Cherie Priest

Cherie Priest(1975- )
Cherie Priest’s short stories and nonfiction articles have appeared in Weird Tales, Subterranean Magazine, Publishers Weekly, and the Stoker-nominated anthology Aegri Somnia from Apex. Though she spent most of her life in the southeast, she presently lives in Seattle, Washington, with her husband and a fat black cat. You can read excerpts of her novels at Cherie Priest’s website.



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Marion Chats with Cherie Priest

Cherie Priest has written ghost stories, monster stories, tales of the Elder Gods, urban fantasy and steampunk, but she is probably best known for the EDEN MOORE series, and for Boneshaker and the subsequent books in her CLOCKWORK CENTURY series. The Inexplicables, the fifth book in that series, was released earlier this fall. In addition to moving from Seattle to Chattanooga, Tennessee, Priest just finished up a book promotion tour, but she found time in her schedule to answer a few of my questions for Fanlit.


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Four and Twenty Blackbirds: Southern Gothic that shows a lot of promise

Four and Twenty Blackbirds by Cherie Priest

If you’re a reader who can’t get enough of crumbling antebellum mansions, dark family secrets, and muggy Southern weather, you’ll enjoy Four and Twenty Blackbirds (2003). This Southern Gothic ghost story was Cherie Priest’s first novel, and while it’s imperfect, it’s quite readable and shows a lot of promise.

Set in Chattanooga, Tennessee, Four and Twenty Blackbirds possesses a strong, tangible sense of place. I once spent a brief time in Chattanooga during the summer,


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Fathom: Not the best beach book

Fathom by Cherie Priest

Fathom is an entertaining horror novel once it gets going. Cherie Priest spends the first 100 pages of Fathom setting a scene, complete with pages upon pages of infodumps. One character will tell another character a story about a third character, for instance, or a character will have a prolonged recollection of a scene from his past. In addition, the time in which the novel is set does not become apparent until the last few chapters of the novel.


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Those Who Went Remain There Still: Southern Gothic

Those Who Went Remain There Still by Cherie Priest

Those Who Went Remain There Still is a short Southern Gothic horror novel by Cherie Priest which I listened to in audio format. The story follows two plotlines told in alternating chapters. One is excerpts from Daniel Boone’s Reflections Upon the Wilderness Road which he wrote while leading a group of trailblazers across Kentucky. Every night, Boone and his men are being stalked, picked off, and eaten by a huge bird-like monster.

The second plotline follows the history of Daniel Boone’s descendants in the rural Kentucky area where Boone met the monster.


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Boneshaker: Steampunk Seattle

Boneshaker by Cherie Priest

CLASSIFICATION: Set in an alternate history Seattle, sometime around the year 1880, Boneshaker is a steampunk-flavored adventure that incorporates elements of zombie horror, pulp fiction and post-apocalyptic retrofuturism. Think The Wild Wild West meets Fallout (a videogame series) meets George Romero…

FORMAT/INFO: Page count is 416 pages divided over 28 numbered chapters, an Epilogue, and an excerpt from Unlikely Episodes in Western History which serves as the prologue. The book also includes a map and an Author’s Note regarding the historical and geographical liberties taken in the novel.


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Clementine: Even better than Boneshaker

Clementine by Cherie Priest

One of the most entertaining novels I read in 2009 was Cherie Priest’s Boneshaker. Full of exciting cross-genre adventure (zombies, steampunk, post-apocalyptic retrofuturism), memorable characters and a cool twist on American history, Boneshaker was a blast to read. I couldn’t wait to see what else Cherie Priest’s CLOCKWORK CENTURY had to offer. Fortunately, I didn’t have to wait long thanks to Subterranean Press and their publication of Clementine.


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Dreadnought: Pleasure and disappointment

Dreadnought by Cherie Priest

CLASSIFICATION: The CLOCKWORK CENTURY series is set in an alternate history America, circa 1880, flavored with steampunk, western, intrigue, and horror.

FORMAT/INFO: Dreadnought is 400 pages long divided over twenty-two numbered chapters. Narration is in the third-person, exclusively via the nurse, Mercy Lynch. Dreadnought is self-contained, but loosely connected to Boneshaker and Clementine, the first two volumes in the Clockwork Century series. September 28, 2010 marks the North American Trade Paperback publication of Dreadnought via Tor.


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Ganymede: Priest is writing the best steampunk around

Ganymede by Cherie Priest

When Hollywood makes a movie of Ganymede — and they have to — I hope they subtitle it “The Battle of Barataria Bay.” That sequence comes near the end of Cherie Priest’s latest CLOCKWORK CENTURY novel, and is fasten-your-seatbelt, grip-the-arms-of-your-chair exciting.

Priest’s books always feature strong women, and in Ganymede, the main character is Josephine Early. Josephine lives in New Orleans, running an upscale bordello. Nearly twenty years into the American civil war,


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The Inexplicables: A journey through a poisoned city and an addict’s mind

The Inexplicables by Cherie Priest

The Inexplicables is the fifth book in Cherie Priest’s CLOCKWORK CENTURY series. This one returns to its roots, the walled, Blight-ridden city of Seattle. It’s 1881, and the American Civil War is still going on. Eighteen years earlier, a powerful mining device tapped into a vein of gas deep into the earth, and the gas spilled out into Seattle, killing most people and turning them into “rotters” or zombies. The source of the outbreak (downtown Seattle) was walled off and abandoned,


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Fiddlehead: Suspenseful and satisfying

Fiddlehead by Cherie Priest

In the North America of 1879, the American Civil War is still going on. A deadly drug from the Pacific Northwest is killing people, then converting them into undead monsters. While technological advances burgeoned during the war, both sides are depleted of soldiers, revenue and hope. This conflict can’t continue, especially with the drug disease making its way to the highly populated north-and-southeast. President U.S. Grant, finishing up his second term and preparing a run for his third, has an opportunity to end it once and for all,


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Jacaranda: A horror novella

Jacaranda by Cherie Priest

Jacaranda is a horror novella set in Cheris Priest’s CLOCKWORK CENTURY universe. This story, set after the end of the USA’s long civil war, is a shivery tale that focuses on supernatural evil rather than the sap-infected zombies of the series.

Priest brings three characters to the Texan island of Galveston, to investigate a long string of strange deaths at the cursed Jacaranda Hotel. Horatio Korman is a Texas Ranger, a smart, clever investigator. Father Juan Quinteros Rios is a Catholic priest with a dark past and a supernatural gift.


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Bloodshot: Familiar territory with a few refreshing twists

Bloodshot by Cherie Priest

I was pretty excited to read Bloodshot. I first encountered Cherie Priest by way of her Southern Gothic novel Four and Twenty Blackbirds several years ago. Since then, her name keeps popping back up in my consciousness, both as a writer of several acclaimed steampunk novels I haven’t had the chance to read yet, and as a Person Who Says Interesting Things on the Internet. So when I heard she was dipping her authorial toes into one of my favorite subgenres,


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Hellbent: Has one of the best urban fantasy sidekicks

Hellbent by Cherie Priest

Cherie Priest gets Big Imagination points for the potent magical artifacts she conjures up in Hellbent, the second Cheshire Red Reports novel. I’m not going to spoil the fun for you by telling you what they are; you’ll know by the end of the first chapter.

Priest introduced vampire thief Raylene Pendle in Bloodshot, along with Raylene’s charges, two street kids who were squatting in one of her warehouses; and Ian, a vampire who has been mysteriously blinded and can control the weather.


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Maplecroft: A gothic tour de force by a writer at the peak of her powers

Maplecroft by Cherie Priest

There is a special joy when a dedicated reader finds a book, written by a gifted writer at the peak of her powers, who journeys into slightly different territory and completely masters it. That joy is what I felt as I finished Maplecroft by Cherie Priest.

Priest has written a lot and she has never tied herself to a single sub-genre. She’s crafted dark fantasy, steampunk, steampunk zombie books and vampire fiction. Now she has essayed Lovecraftian Gothic with Maplecroft,


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Chapelwood: Frightening, eerie and engrossing

Chapelwood by Cherie Priest

Maplecroft, the first book in Cherie Priest’s Lovecraftian series THE BORDEN DISPATCHES, was one of the best books of 2014. With Chapelwood, the sequel, Priest delivers again with an intricate, frightening story written in a completely different tone. Many familiar characters are back, and we meet some new ones, including some adversaries who are chilling, and not only because they are the servants of the Old Ones.

Leaving the chilly,


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I Am Princess X: An exciting YA thriller

I Am Princess X by Cherie Priest

My 14 year-old daughter (Tali) and I recently listened to the audiobook version of Cherie Priest’s I Am Princess X. We took a look at the print version, too, since the story is part novel, part comic. It’s about a slightly awkward girl named May who, back in fifth-grade, became best friends with a girl named Libby during recess when the two of them, both new to the school, had to sit out. Bored on the playground,


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The Family Plot: You’ll think twice about a nice hot shower after this

The Family Plot by Cherie Priest

With The Family Plot, Cherie Priest takes a break from steampunk and Lovecraftiana to tackle a tried-and-true convention, the haunted-house story. The book, filled with atmospherics, family feuds and long-buried secrets, is a spooky read that will leave you side-eyeing bathrooms and showers for days after you’ve finished.

The Dutton family business is salvage, and Music City Salvage has just purchased a bonanza of a job — a full Southern estate, built in the 1800s,


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Brimstone: The Queen of Southern Gothic delivers again

Brimstone by Cherie Priest

Brimstone (2017) is a throwback to some of Cherie Priest’s earlier work in theme and in setting. The story takes place in Florida, this time in Cassadaga, a real town which, like Lily Dale in northern New York, was founded by spiritualists. Cassadaga still exists and still draws the public for psychic readings, classes and attempts to contact deceased loved ones. In Brimstone, Alice Dartle comes to Cassadaga to learn about her own psychic gift,


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The Agony House: A fun and instructive haunted house mystery

The Agony House by Cherie Priest

When she was too young to remember, Denise Farber’s father and grandmother died in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina. She and her mother fled to Houston. Now, with Denise about to enter her senior year in high school, her mother has just remarried and their new little family is returning to New Orleans. They have very little money, so they’ve purchased an old dilapidated Victorian style home that they hope to fix up and turn into a Bed & Breakfast.

After moving into the house,


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The Toll: Priest breathes creepy, swampy, glimmering life into Southern Gothic

The Toll by Cherie Priest

Cherie Priest’s 2019 Southern Gothic novel The Toll delivers the creeping terror, the strangeness and the surprises I’ve come to expect from her, since she is the queen of this subgenre. From the weird, dying little town of Staywater, Georgia, to a house haunted by dolls, to “granny women” and ghosts, to that thing in the swamp, The Toll builds and delivers on a mood that progresses from shivery to biting-your-fingernails suspenseful.


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Grave Reservations: A quirky, engaging protagonist anchors this Seattle mystery

Grave Reservations by Cherie Priest

Leda Foley is trying to keep her single-person travel agency afloat. Grady Merritt is a Seattle PD detective away at a conference. When Leda changes his return flight plans without notice or explanation, she saves his life — and outs herself as a psychic. Back home in Seattle, Grady hires her to assist on a baffling cold case he won’t let go of. Abruptly, a psychic episode shows Leda that this case and unsolved murder of her fiancé Tod three years earlier are connected.

2021’s Grave Reservations is a slight departure for Cherie Priest;


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Fort Freak: A WILD CARDS novel that can be read as a stand-alone

Fort Freak by George R.R. Martin

Fort Freak is the twenty-first entry in the WILD CARDS universe, a long running series of mosaic novels edited by George R.R. Martin. It is not necessary to have read the previous twenty volumes to read this one; Fort Freak works fine as a standalone. There are numerous references to earlier books and cameos by characters that starred in them, but nothing that makes it absolutely necessary to have read earlier volumes. That is probably a good thing.


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Mythic II: Compact and precise

Mythic II edited by Mike Allen

Much like its predecessor Mythic, Mythic 2 feels compact and precise. Both the prose and poetry (and everything else in between) are easy to read and have a lyrical tonality. The anthology is even and consistent, with no sudden drops or spikes in the quality. Editor Mike Allen also continues the format of alternating between both mediums, which makes the book work.

For the most part, I found the poems to be decent and the fiction enjoyable.


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Steampunk II: Steampunk Reloaded

Steampunk II: Steampunk Reloaded edited by Ann and Jeff VanderMeer

Steampunk II: Steampunk Reloaded is the second steampunk anthology edited by Ann and Jeff VanderMeer, following 2008’s first installment. It contains about twice as many stories as its predecessor, but unlike the first collection the quality is more uneven here, resulting in a less impressive but still fascinating anthology that should please fans of the genre.

While the first anthology only contained one story I was less than happy with, there are at least four or five in Steampunk II: Steampunk Reloaded that I could have done without.


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Rogues: A diverse and satisfying collection

Rogues edited by George R.R. Martin & Gardner Dozois

Rogues, a short-story anthology by George R.R. Martin and Gardner Dozois, is a marvelously diverse collection of stories and genres, tied together by those scoundrels, those tricksters, those rascals, those rogues that you can’t help but love. I listened to it on audiobook and loved the experience, especially because a few of the readers were actors from Game of Thrones.

When I picked this up, I was most excited to hear two stories in particular: “How the Marquis Got His Coat Back,”


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Why You Should Read… Cherie Priest

Our second article in the ongoing feature Why You Should Read… is by Adam Christopher, published author and blogger. He can be found on Twitter as @ghostfinder. He has chosen to talk about Cherie Priest.

(Pic courtesy of Caitlin Kittredge)

As a writer, reading the work of others elicits one of two reactions. As John D. MacDonald once said, you read everything with grinding envy or a weary contempt.

Take Cherie Priest.


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Next SFF Author: Christopher Priest
Previous SFF Author: Susan Price

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