Priscilla the Great is an immediately engaging novel, clever, quirky, and comical. The author, Sybil Nelson, has created a character who is incredibly endearing while still feeling “real”. Well, as real a a girl who can start fires with her hands could possibly be! She is exactly what you want in a heroine, especially one whose destined to develop superpower powers and live up to the novel’s title.
The story starts with a prologue with our heroine bound in a mysterious room, held by menacing captors, but despite her situation you immediately get a feel for her sarcastic and optimistic attitude. From there, Sybil takes us to the origins of Priscilla’s powers, chiefly the ability to create fire and warmth in her hands. She develops her powers while struggling through the typical dilemmas of a middle school teenage girl, but the addition of the development of superpowers and the inability to control them, especially ones as dangerous as inadvertently starting fires and shooting flames from her fingertips adds an extra dimension to her stress and insecurity, making it anything other than typical.
All through the early parts of the novel there are hints that Priscilla’s childhood has been a very strange one: her mom is absent, far more often than she’s present, and the excuses her parents give are flimsy and inconsistent. Her dad is comically overprotective. The basement is forbidden territory for any of the children to enter and none of them have, but it’s not as though they haven’t tried; a sophisticated defense system that prevents them. Priscilla, being perceptive and clever, knows that her childhood is weird, but what can she do? Its her childhood. Besides she has enough to think about, what with countering the dangerous hijinks of her five-year-old adorable but destructive twin little brothers, whom she has aptly nicknamed “the devil twins” and beginning her quest for love with the unbelievably cute Spencer Callahan, along with dealing with stresses created by her older brother Josh’s love life. Just as it finally looks like Priscilla might solve all of her middle school angsty problems, the real action begins as the truth behind Priscilla’s mysterious parents and her own powers unfolds in an action-packed and hilarious adventure.
I highly recommend this novel for tweens and above.