The Girl Who Would be King uses alternating first-person narration to tell the stories of two young women who discover that they have unusual abilities, their struggles to understand and adapt to them, and the conflict those struggles eventually draw them into. Along the way Bonnie and Lola become, more or less, a superhero and a supervillain.
There’s a lot I really liked about this novel. I’m a fan of reversing the stereotypical gender dynamic of most comic books: men are reduced to sidekick and love-interest roles. Thompson strives for emotional realism in her characters. I didn’t always find the results believable, but I certainly found Lola memorably creepy. The backstory is eventually revealed to have a mythological underpinning with some novelty to it.
Thompson’s prose isn’t showy or particularly inventive, but it’s generally clear and fairly lean, the sort of move-the-story along that’s appropriate for a very plot-driven book, and rather easy to undervalue.
I didn’t find the ending satisfying either in emotional terms or on a thematic level — it felt a bit arbitrary (and maybe calculated to leave room for a possible sequel). But I had a lot of fun reading it, and I would read more from Thompson.