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The Kings and Queens of Roam: A Novel Hardcover

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Touchstone; First Edition edition (May 7, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1476703973
  • ISBN-13: 978-1476703978
  • Product Dimensions: 2.2 x 3.3 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (42 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #267,315 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Somewhere in the deepest, wildest part of America, there is a place called Roam. Once a thriving mill town founded by unscrupulous silk merchant Elijah McCallister, it is now a virtual ghost town. Of the few people remaining, none are more curious than Helen and Rachel McCallister, Elijah’s great-granddaughters. Like sisters out of the Brothers Grimm, they are as different as chalk and cheese. Rachel is beautiful, trusting, kind, and blind. Helen is as hideous inside as she is out, a vindictive harpy whose shrewish behavior and tortured visage isolate her in self-imposed exile. So jealous is she of her sister’s beauty that, after their parents die and Rachel is left solely in her care, Helen vengefully tells the most vicious lies to keep Rachel in her thrall: that Rachel is ugly; that the world is a gothic and dangerous place; that no roads lead into or out of Roam. Like a maiden princess locked in the witch’s castle, Rachel accepts her fate until the day she discovers she can orchestrate her escape. Teeming with dwarfs and giants, feral dogs, and wily spirits, Wallace’s eerie fairy tale for grown-ups is a melancholy yet enchanting pastiche of love, loss, redemption, and revenge. --Carol Haggas


“Darkly funny and wildly inventive . . . There’s a wealth of enchantment here—curses, an evil sister, a miraculous spring, teetotaling ghosts, and, most importantly, the transformative magic of loss." (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

“Masterful . . . Wallace gives nothing short of a bravura performance in the art of storytelling. . . . Balances the primary goal of storytelling with the underlying one of providing inspiration and insight, and he achieves both aims spectacularly. . . . [A] complex and gratifying yarn.” (Indy Week)

“Do you remember Big Fish, the wonderful novel by Daniel Wallace and the movie it inspired? They made us suspend disbelief and go into a magical world of stories and characters. Wallace has done it again in his latest novel, The Kings and Queens of Roam, which is full of the magic he uses to draw us into his worlds of imagination.” (Richmond County Daily Journal)

“From the first line of Daniel Wallace’s new novel The Kings and Queens of Roam, it’s clear a sweeping story is about to unfold. . . . Wallace ensures that forgiveness and redemption are part of the balance in this richly imagined world.” (Asheville Citizen-Times)

“Wallace has imagined yet another extraordinary fantasy world filled with odd and colorful souls—both living and dead, tragic and comic.” (Birmingham News)

“Wallace illustrates the power words have to make worlds, both in the tragic whimsy of the world his words create and in the sad, scary world one character builds for another.” (Jackson Free Press)

“A fabled book much like Wallace's debut novel, Big Fish.” (Memphis Flyer)

“Wallace has returned to many of the . . . techniques of Big Fish. . . . We are in the land of the tall tale, the fable, fantasy and fairy tale—and not the tooth fairy kind where there is no down side, just the delivery of a silver coin in the night, but the Brothers Grimm variety, laced with darkness, anxiety, bad behavior, guilt, envy, and pain.” (Alabama Public Radio)

"A tall-tale jaunt . . . A whimsical, tender tale about friendship, trust and the price of second chances." (BookPage)

“Wallace’s eerie fairy tale for grown-ups is a melancholy yet enchanting pastiche of love, loss, redemption, and revenge.” (Booklist (starred review))

“An imaginative, sentimental modern-day tall tale . . . Wallace’s far-fetched, rollicking yarn, written in the vein of Manly Wade Wellman and Fred Chappell, consistently engages the reader.” (Publishers Weekly)

“A fanciful story layered in symbolism and ripe with lyrical language.” (Kirkus Reviews)

“Daniel Wallace is one of our most masterful storytellers and his latest creation, The Kings and Queens of Roam, is brimming with his brilliant visions and wise observations about life. Part fairytale, part myth and legend, the city of Roam and her inhabitants--both living and dead--materialize in ways that are equal parts comedy and tragedy. At the heart of it all are two sisters: Rachel and Helen, the twists and turns of their relationship leading the reader on a journey that ultimately is a moral tale--one of grief and forgiveness and the meaning of love.” (Jill McCorkle, author of Life After Life)

“Full of adventure, ghosts, steam-punk industrialists, silk-traders, wild dogs, and mysterious lumberjacks, Daniel Wallace’s The Kings and Queens of Roam is touched with both magic and whimsy. I paused just as often to savor the beauty of Wallace’s sentences as I did to wipe away tears at his characters’ predicaments. An epic and modern fairy tale of sisters and friendship, The Kings and Queens of Roam is about the lies we tell, to ourselves and to each other, and how those stories go on to shape the world around us.” (Hannah Tinti, author of The Good Thief)

“There is much magic in Daniel Wallace's superb new novel--curses, caves, even a haunted wood--but the most impressive magic is Wallace's understanding of the human heart's depths and vagaries. The Kings and Queens of Roam is a fairy tale for adults.” (Ron Rash, author of Nothing Gold Can Stay)

“Reading The Kings and Queens of Roam is like living, for a few hundred pages, in another world: beautiful, epic, tragic, and ultimately redemptive. In Roam Daniel Wallace has created his own Macondo. This is his best novel yet.” (Wesley Stace, author of Charles Jessold, Considered as a Murderer)

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By P. Woodland TOP 1000 REVIEWER on June 11, 2013
Format: Hardcover
I must admit that this was not a book within my normal genres but I'm quite happy I chose to read it. I truly love that when I go outside of my norms and find a book that keeps me so engaged. I did not read Mr. Wallace's first novel, Big Fish so I knew nothing of his style when I started this one.

The book is two stories; that of two sisters, Helen and Rachel and that of the town of Roam itself. Helen and Rachel are left alone after their parents die and Rachel is dependent on Helen as she is blind. Rachel is beautiful and as the book tells us, Helen is not. Helen is very jealous of Rachel and starts to tell her a series of lies about herself and her surroundings. The reader also learns about how the town was founded and about its founders.

The writing is just magical and so are the stories; there is a fair bit of fantasy involved in the tales and I'm not usually a fan of such but the book is just so well written you can't help but get drawn into the story and well, believe.

Rachel finds that she doesn't need her sister as much as she thought she did and Helen realizes she needs her sister more than she thought. It doesn't end with unicorns and rainbows and the book does make you think - which I just love in a novel. The two tales come together giving, if not answers, then an end. I'll keep this one to read again and with all that I read, you know those books are few and far between.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Toy Loving Momma on May 22, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Books like this one are the reason I read! I absolutely love this book. It's the type of book where halfway in, I am already thinking of reading it again.

Helen and Rachel are two sisters living in a dying town called Roam. It was founded by their ancestor and they live all alone in the house he built. Rachel depends on Helen to take care of her because she is blind. Helen also depends on Rachel, but she does not entirely realize it. There lives have gone on in a fairly predictable manner for years until..something forces one of them to seek out an entirely different life.

All of the characters are well developed. In fact many of the chapters are named after them. You come to love them, hate them, and love them again over the course of the book. Even the side characters that usually no one pays attention to are really fleshed out (well, flesh might not be the right word)

It's hard to pinpoint what is so special about this book because there is so much going on in this fairly short story (under 300 pages). There are ghosts, magical water, vicious dogs and plenty of bears...can't forget the bears. People are deceived, trusted, killed, healed, shunned, forgiven, and abused (but not in that particular order).

I HIGHLY recommend this book especially if you like magical realism. I know I can't wait to read it AGAIN!

I received this book in a goodreads giveaway. My review is unbiased.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By John on June 5, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The characters in the book are fanciful as are the ordeals they must face but the book is written in such a graceful and tender way, you are drawn into the story to feel the joy and pain of the characters. The origin of the many unusual circumstances in the book are not explained but somehow that adds to the flow of the story and makes this book a very fun read.
If you liked Big Fish or Snow Child, this is a book for you.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Lolly on May 21, 2013
Format: Hardcover
I'm not sure why, but every time I finish a novel of Daniel Wallace's, I wind up dreaming about it for months. This one may take up space in my sub-conscious for years. It is a must read... I can not compare it to anything I have ever read. So beautiful and so dark but equally complicated and funny...
Long after you finish it, it's hard to put down.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Lydia TOP 1000 REVIEWER on August 20, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Although I have not read any of Daniel Wallace's books, I am a big fan of the movie Big Fish so when I got an email asking if I'd like to read The Kings and Queens of Roam I jumped at the chance. There's something about magical realism that just... speaks to me. It makes me feel tingly inside and sends me into this relaxed state of being when I'm reading and I love any chance I can put my hands on a book that will bring that about.

Well, let me tell you that The Kings and Queens of Roam did not disappoint me. This story, centering around two sisters, had paradox after paradox and was written in such a unique way that my interest was completely caught and, even now, has yet to fade with the book ending. I keep thinking about the different histories, stories, and issues raised throughout the book and the more I think about it, the more excited I get about the message that is wrapped up in this book.

The biggest story is that of Helen and Rachel. Helen, the older of the two, orphaned sisters is bitter and her personality is reflected through her face which is described as being very ugly. Rachel is beautiful, so beautiful that people cannot help but look at her and her personality matches that beauty by being sweet, naive, and innocent. But Rachel is blind, so she is unable to see her own beauty or the reactions to it.

One day, Rachel asks Helen a question, and from there the story takes off.

Each chapter contains a portion of a story within a story. The history of Roam is told and the history of the sisters being orphaned is also told. Forgiveness, loathing, hatred, love, fear, forgiveness - all of these are touched on and used to cause a twist that I feared would come and, then when it did, I found myself resigned and accepting of it. This is a beautiful story that highlights the changeable nature of humans. I loved it. I think I'll leave it at that.
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