The Kings and Queens of Roam by Daniel Wallace

The Kings and Queens of Roam by Daniel WallaceThe Kings and Queens of Roam by Daniel Wallace
Published by Touchstone on May 7, 2013
Pages: 288
Source: I borrowed this book from my local library.
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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 is a magical novel reminiscent of old fables and tall tales. Daniel Wallace has such a way with storytelling, I found myself believing every single unbelievable thing the happened. I was completely absorbed in this quirky world: I felt like the kid in The NeverEnding Story, unable to pull myself away from the book.

There was so much to think about in this story, and it was all a natural part of the greater fabric that held the tale together:

  • Uncomfortable realizations about the way disabled people are treated. Our self-serving intentions, which we think are good intentions because we aren’t really thinking about the recipients. How being overprotective toward disabled adults demeans and diminishes them as individuals.
  • Autonomy! Liberty! The freedom to direct our own lives, period. Why it’s important to let others do the same, even if we think we know better for them. I absolutely loved the way this theme was handled throughout the story.
  • Segregation, exploration, and colonialism.
  • How do we react when everything we thought was truth turns out not to be reality? How do we deal with the emotions that come with that enlightenment? How do we then act?
  • The way we behave in small, insignificant moments when our first reaction might be to lash out: Those moments can be more important than we think. Those moments can change things…not always for good.

There was some amazing symbolism in the story as well, especially the inclusion of the goldfinch: “Since the early medieval period, the goldfinch was thought to have the gift of healing sight. It was said that a finch could cure a person’s disease just by looking at him or her.” [source]

The Kings and Queens of Roam is a captivating story, beautifully told. I echo the advice of Jennifer at The Relentless Reader: Read it! You’ll thank me later. (And hey Jen, thank you!!!)