From the celebrated author of Big Fish, an imaginative, moving novel about two sisters and the dark legacy and magical town that entwine them.
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, naïve – and blind. When their parents die an untimely death, 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 Big Fish. The Kings and Queens of Roam is a wildly inventive, beautifully written, and big-hearted tale of family and the ties that bind.
The Kings and Queens of Roam by Daniel Wallace
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I hadn't read Wallace before this book but I remembered Big Fish, which is on my to-read list though I've never gotten around to reading it. When I saw The Kings and Queens of Roam, I thought I'd give it a try and requested a free copy in exchange for review from NetGalley as a way of sampling the author's work.
The story is supposed to be about two sisters and their relationship with each other. There's a couple problems - I didn't like either sister and didn't feel like their relationship was real. I couldn't climb into their heads and I felt like I was crowd-watching them, which may be what the author intended as it makes the ending difficult to predict.
Then, I start reading and discover that this book isn't just about the sisters but also about their great-grandpa and his kidnapping of a china-man to beget the town of Roam, providing the setting for the sisters. He was more interesting than his descendents but I didn't grow to love any of the characters. Some characters, like the lumberjack and his dogs, felt out of place and I'm not sure what they did for the story, aside from providing flights of fancy.
Wallace tells a story beautifully but he didn't have much story to tell. The prose is whimsical and well-written. Wallace gives so much detail in just a few words and spins a beautiful sentence. That was my favorite part of the story - it reads so easily. Wallace's writing style is what encourages me to try some of his other books.
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