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The Kings and Queens of Roam

3.43  ·  Rating details ·  1,307 ratings  ·  213 reviews
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 o
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published May 7th 2013 by Gallery Books (first published February 1st 2013)
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3.43  · 
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 ·  1,307 ratings  ·  213 reviews

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Jan 08, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Every so often I read a book so SO amazing, that I don't think I can do it justice with a review. But I do try. This is my second read by Daniel Wallace and I loved it just as much as Mr. Sebastian and The Negro Magician. And although this book didn't have any direct connection with magic, it was just as magical. I suppose, if classification was needed, this is a work of magical realism. Just how it should be done, a perfect mix of surreal wonder and absolute beauty. Wallace really has a gift fo ...more
Mar 17, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Roam, a town found in the middle of the wilderness. Once, it was the home of a great silk factory built by Elijah McCallister. When the silk worms stop producing the town slowly falls into disrepair as it's inhabitants slowly move away.

Helen and Rachel McCallister are the great-granddaughters of Elijah McCallister. Orphaned when their parents perished in a car crash, the girls live together in the home that their great grandfather built when the town was established. Helen the eldest sister is u
Lori Anderson
Mar 04, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I was thrilled to receive an advance copy of this book. "Big Fish" and "Mr. Sebastian and the Negro Magician", also by Daniel Wallace, are among my favorite books, and this book is as enchanting, if a little darker.

The book is about sisters, a dying town, ghosts, lumberjacks, magic water, and the fine line between love and hate. The story is a magical blend of vignettes from a cast of characters who are all connected by their relationship with the town of Roam. In this way, it reminded me of "Bi
Feb 19, 2013 rated it really liked it
This book was great, and everything you'd expect from a Daniel Wallace novel. Whimsy, folklore, quirk, and heartache. Told from several vantage points in time, through many different characters, the separate stories reinforce the importance and consequence of stories themselves, that the tall tales we tell ourselves and each other are perhaps a bigger reality than we will ever know. And just what happens when this reality shifts, morphs, or disappears entirely? All you need to do is read the fat ...more
Jacki Leach
Dec 05, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Daniel Wallace, author of 'Big Fish', gives us an original fairy/folk tale that will leave you mesmerized. Two sisters, one ugly, the other blind and beautiful, live in their family's moldering mansion in the near-dead town of Roam. When one learns her lessons, the other leaves the town, only to find the truth which blots out her innocence.

Colorful lies give this well-told tale an enchanting edge, but not is all 'sweetness and light'.

Yet another perfect vehicle for director Tim Burton!
Jul 01, 2013 rated it really liked it
During the five years I spent in college, I was so bogged down by research and distorted by literary analysis that I only read one book for pleasure: 100 Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. It took me three months to read...three long, glorious months, during which I absorbed every word as best I could. Each page was its own separate novel, each paragraph its own story, as though Marquez weren't just writing about the Buendia family or the little town of Macondo, but a history of everyt ...more
I made it through four discs then called it quits.

The problem I had was that, to me, this is a mediocre story made worse by the wrong reader.

The book had originally intrigued me for many reasons: It has a slightly magical description, there's a cute little fairy house on the cover, and most-important, it's about sisters. I love stories about sisters. From the first description of them, though, I was put off - the oldest was apparently the most hideous child ever birthed, so ugly that no one in t
Heather Allen
Feb 10, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I was lucky enough to get an advanced copy of the book and I have to say, I was not disappointed! The key words of this review (and book) are going to be magic, whimsy, haunting, and tragic because that is exactly what it delivered. My favorite part is the theme of magical realism that runs throughout. The magic in the water, the ghosts, the characters who seemingly never die. While I was reading, I was reminded of One Hundred Years of Solitude and The House of the Spirits.

Kings and Queens crea
Maria Kramer
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.

This book showcases a lot of the problems I have with magical realism as a ge
May 21, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Helen and Rachel McCallister are sisters. They only have each other now that their parents are gone. For years Helen has been jealous of Rachel and her beauty. Due to Rachel’s blindness, she can not tell any different what Helen is telling her when she tells Rachel that she is ugly. Helen’s lies grow when she creates this world around Roam filled with flesh eating birds and other monsters. However Helen could never know what her story was actually doing to Rachel until Rachel makes an announceme ...more
Jun 18, 2013 rated it really liked it
While perusing thru the library, I picked up this book because it said Daniel Wallace is the author of Big Fish . I had only seen the movie of Big Fish and didn't know that it was originally a book. I wasn't particularly fond of the movie, but I felt there was potential in the story so I decided to give Wallace a chance with this book. And I'm glad I did.
Wallace does an excellent job of creating another world for the reader. I found myself captivated by the characters and eager to find out wh
May 17, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sisters, fantasy, sad
So, my second book in a row in which the author asks the reader to believe fantastic things as if they are commonplace . . . And in which magical happenings do not necessarily bring any joy.

There are 3 threads in this book: the sisters, Helen and Rachel, the bartender and his ghosts, and the dastardly founder of Roam, Elijah McCallister. The only thread that I found myself eager to read was that of the sisters. There is cruelty and love there, and it's unpredictable. The ghosts are just a little
May 06, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Well...I read a lot of good books that are stories that I really enjoy, written with varying levels of artistry. It was really a pleasure to read Daniel Wallace's The Kings and Queens of Roam as he is truly an artist, absolutely a master of beautiful, vivid, meaningful prose. Which means to say, not agonizingly artsy or trying in any way, just very natural and very great. In addition to that, the story was compelling and I found the ending to be beautiful, I won't say any more about that tho!
May 07, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I've had the great pleasure of seeing Daniel Wallace at book readings twice this month, and hearing the book in his voice as I read it was quite a treat. I'd call it magic realism light, fantastical and dark but often funny too. It has a lot to say about how we create our own reality, or allow others to do so for us.
The best book from Daniel Wallace yet! I highly recommend this disarmingly beautiful and haunting story of two sisters that transcends time and reality. Love!
Angie Lisle
Nov 12, 2013 rated it liked it
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 r
Apr 23, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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 ye
Jun 04, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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 bli
Diane Barnes
Apr 05, 2014 rated it really liked it
I am not a big fan of magical realism, which is what I consider this book. However, once in a while an author comes along that can make you believe in the impossible. One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Marcia Marquez is such a book, and now Daniel Wallace has done it with this one. The things that happen in the town of Roam stretch the imagination and defy logic, but the REASONS they happen stem from very real human emotions. Love, hate, envy, ambition,and everything in between is here in ...more
Feb 15, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: goodreads, 2013
I was lucky enough to get this as an advance reader copy via Touchstone and Goodreads. I have read Wallace's novel Big Fish and Mr Sebastian and the Negro Magician and am well aware of DW's majestic tall tale style. I enjoyed The Kings and Queens of Roam, but not as much as the others. I have one sister, and the bond and hurts and love that comes out of that relationship are comparable to no other in my life. Wallace tells the tale of one beautiful but blind sister and an older uglier sister. Th ...more
Diane S ☔
May 01, 2013 rated it really liked it
3.5 In lyrical prose Wallace gives us the story of a magical yet dying town of Roam. I first saw the movie "Big Fish", never actually read the book but the story behind the movie was quirky and delightful. In this book, Wallace once again tackles a story with many moral ambiguities and characters that are hard to like and yet sympathetic in their humanness. How this town came to be and why it is now dying is what kept me reading. The two sisters could have been young sisters anywhere, but not al ...more
Lydia Presley
Aug 16, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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. Lost Entwife.
Bridget Healy
I made it about halfway until I gave up on this one. I'm not one for sad, thought-provoking novels about how horrid people can be too one another, and the dark places we all have inside us. My dark places want to read something happier. If that makes me shallow, so be it. It's why I'm not in a traditional book club.
David Allen
Nov 27, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The book was amazing. Never a dull moment. Fell in love with Rachel and, surprisingly, Helen. Amazing characterization and setting. It's everything I wanted and expected Wallace's latest novel to be.
Lolly K Dandeneau
Loved this book. You hate the characters and you love the characters, the same way you feel about most people in your life at any given moment. Review to follow soon, but this is the type of novel I devour and enjoy most. Novels that are magical, mysterious or maybe just strange.
Feb 01, 2014 rated it really liked it
More like a 3.5/5
It was a sweet ride and an easy read, but I don't think I'll remember this book forever !
Whitney Maas
May 20, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction, fable, favorites
I read this entire book today and have not found myself so lost between the pages of a story in a long time. I plan to read this wonderfully beautiful story at least 3 more times :)
Katie Hill
Sep 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sep 02, 2013 rated it it was amazing
In a word: A strikingly original folktale, full of secrets and lies, some very complicated relationships, and a just a splash of magic realism.

So Helen remained and discovered in her sister’s absence what love and the loss of it is; she discovered both at the exact same time. It’s not just a feeling; it’s a real thing inside of you made of a paper-thin glass, and when it breaks the shards move through your blood and cut you to pieces.

I never got to read Big Fish, Wallace’s first book, but I did
Andrew Logan
Oct 18, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Although this is a book that contains some unpleasant people who did some pretty despicable things, it is also a book with some honesty and kindness. A book with some hope and some forgiveness. Importantly, in a world full of cynical books whose authors seem to think themselves clever when they write sad and even distressing endings to books, this book has a happy ending.

It has real ghosts and other elements of magical realism. It has characters that don’t feel like real people but feel like the
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Daniel Wallace is author of five novels, including Big Fish (1998), Ray in Reverse (2000), The Watermelon King (2003), Mr. Sebastian and the Negro Magician (2007), and most recently The Kings and Queens of Roam (2013).

He has written one book for children, Elynora, and in 2008 it was published in Italy, with illustrations by Daniela Tordi. O Great Rosenfeld!, the only book both written and illustra
“A storyteller makes up things to help other people; a liar makes up things to help himself.” 235 likes
“He believed in himself, believed in his quixotic ambition, letting the failures of the previous day disappear as each new day dawned. Yesterday was not today. The past did not predict the future if he could learn from his mistakes.” 35 likes
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