The Kings and Queens of Roam

The Kings and Queens of Roam

Book - 2013
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Helen and Rachel McCallister, who live in a town called Roam, are as different as sisters can be: Helen, older, bitter, and conniving; Rachel, beautiful, naive - and blind. When their parents die suddenly, Rachel has to rely on Helen for everything, but Helen embraces her role in all the wrong ways, convincing Rachel that the world is a dark and dangerous place she couldn't possibly survive on her own . . . or so Helen believes, until Rachel makes a surprising choice that turns both their worlds upside down. In this new novel, Southern literary master Daniel Wallace returns to the tradition of tall tales and folklore made memorable in his bestselling novel Big Fish. Wildly inventive and beautifully written, The Kings and Queens of Roam is a big-hearted tale of family and the ties that bind.
Publisher: New York : Simon & Schuster, c2013
ISBN: 9781476703978
Characteristics: 277 p. ; 23 cm


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May 01, 2017

The idea that ugly appearance leads to evil character... bothers me quite a bit, especially when the older sister is the mean one as in most other such situations, (because I am namely an eldest daughter). It is also largely stereotypical, if not racist.

mrsgail5756 Dec 08, 2013

The book was okay – but not one of my favorites.

mvkramer Aug 17, 2013

This book showcases a lot of the problems I have with magical realism as a genre, in that the plot and characters are completely secondary to the mood and atmosphere that the author is trying to create. A good example of the almost complete irrelevance of characters in this book was the Chinese element of the story. Several characters are Chinese-Americans, but this adds absolutely nothing to the story. Seriously, they could have been replaced by characters of any ethnicity and it still would have been exactly the same.

The plot of the book weaves past and present together to try to make the connection between Elijah McAllister's past sins and the sad story of Helen and Rachel -- his descendants -- but I honestly don't see any cause and effect relationship. Shouldn't a curse resonate with the crime that cased it? For a book that actually works past events into present plots very well, I'd recommend Holes by Louis Sachar, which is actually very tightly constructed. Here, the past just...hangs around pointlessly like the many, equally pointless ghosts that hang out in Roam. Yes, there are ghosts. No it's not important. The ending, while predictable, felt very rushed to me and unsatisfying, like the author was trying to tie up events and wasn't sure how to do it.

Read these instead:
One Hundred Years of Solitude
Pedro Paramo
House of the Spirits

Or, listen to some Decemberists albums.


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mvkramer Aug 17, 2013

Roam is a dying town in the middle of a dense forest, blighted by the crimes of its founder. In this town live two orphaned sisters -- Helen, who is tragically ugly, and Rachel, beautiful but blind. Out of bitterness, Helen begins to lie to Rachel about everything, the town, the forest and even about her own face. Eventually, Rachel makes a decision that Helen doesn't expect and their twisted relationship finally snaps.


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