REVIEW: “Princess Mine” by Darby Harn

Review of Darby Harn, “Princess Mine”, Strange Horizons 19 Mar. 2018: Read online. Reviewed by Danielle Maurer.

The irony of reviewing a short story about a TV show reviewer reviewing a TV show is not lost on me.

That said, I really enjoyed “Princess Mine.” It’s framed as a blog post by the narrator, who discovers a heretofore unseen and unannounced third season of a show which featured a has-been actress as both herself and not-herself. The third season makes the narrator realize the emptiness in her own life, the lack of connection she has been experiencing, and in a sense, it saves her life.

Like all the best stories, this one features a relatable main character. The problem she’s struggling with–and the problem the character of the TV show, in turn, is also struggling with–is common in our modern era. With everyone hidden behind a screen, it’s hard to form real human relationships, and that can make it hard to find a reason to keep living. The strange third season of the TV show serves as the narrator’s wake-up call, her warning that she needs to make a change in her life or risk ending up like the TV show character.

It’s a simple framing device, but effective at delivering the message. The writing is sharp and engaging, interspersed with “interviews” given by the actress and the narrator’s own fan script for the actress’s one big role. There are several clever turns of phrase, such as “armed with a blood alcohol level approaching godhood.”

All in all, “Princess Mine” is a strong story about finding connections and combating depression. This is yet another story I’d highly recommend.