In this month's roundup of the best-reviewed BookLife titles, we highlight a story about a reluctant princess, a post-apocalyptic novel, a space pirate adventure, and others.

★ The Ex-Princess


Synopsis: Princess Abelia Olivia Jayne Venenza Ribaldi Porchenzii has renounced the throne in favor of an independent life and a menial job. Unfortunately, she’s still beholden to a royal marriage contract.

PW’s Takeaway: West’s debut is a vibrant, utterly readable adventure.

Comparable Title: Alyssa Cole’s A Princess in Theory: Reluctant Royals

Sample Line: “The moonlight poured in through her window onto the quilt on her bed, one of the few vestiges of her old life.”

★ The Nothing Within


Synopsis: Several generations after the destruction of civilization, only Amish culture has survived.

PW’s Takeaway: This magical, terrifying, and whimsical debut is a genuinely original and immersive take on postapocalyptic SF.

Comparable Title: Scott Hawkins’s The Library at Mount Char

Sample Line: “My name is Root. I was seventeen when I first heard the voice no one else could hear.”

The Renaissance Club


Synopsis: While visiting Italy, an art history professor is transported to the Renaissance.

PW’s Takeaway: Dacus’s debut, the first in a series, is a delightful dance between present-day and Renaissance Italy.

Comparable Title: Lisa Grunwald’s Time After Time

Safe Passage


Synopsis: On the run from an organized crime syndicate, a software engineer joins a crew aboard the Black Flag pirate vessel.

PW’s Takeaway: Ford launches an adventure series with this fun and unexpectedly tenderhearted novel.

Comparable Title: Mike Brook’s Dark Run

The Show Must Go On

Kate Karyus Quinn

Synopsis: An aspiring stage director’s life is derailed when her husband awakens from a coma.

PW’s Takeaway: Readers won’t be able to resist the protagonist’s bittersweet and satisfying journey of the heart.

Comparable Title: Sophie Kinsella’s I Owe You One