Title: The Kings and Queens of Roam
Author: Daniel Wallace
Published: 2013, Touchstone
Genre: Fiction, Magical Realism
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.
I picked up this book because it's cover caught my eye even though it was at the back of the new books display at my local library. I don't know if you ever get a book because of the cover but I do it a lot. I've been exposed to and liked many different books that I would never have picked up just by reading the cover blurb.
This is a story of two different times. It shifts from the time when Roam was being built up into a great town known for silk and the days when Roam is quickly becoming a ghost town. Each chapter switches narration between the sisters, the two founders of Roam, and a few other characters.
As the description states, Helen is the older, ugly sister and Rachel is the young, beautiful sister. As children, Helen tells Rachel a lie that snowballs as their life passes, continuing even after their parents die young. The story centers around the relationship of these two sisters and their perceived need of one another. Their story is not a healthy one, but as it progresses the sisters learn so much about their places in the world.
While the story focuses mainly on the sisters, the secondary characters flesh out the story wonderfully. The sisters' great-grandfather who allows his ambitions to affect the greatest relationship he's ever had. The great-father's reluctant traveling companion who only wants to be with his family. The quiet lumberjack who loves his dog more than anything. The lonely bartender who keeps company with ghosts. They all have their unique storylines that add a depth to the town of Roam.
I did enjoy this book, however I lost interest towards the end of the story and was disappointed with the ending. Even though the story started to fall flat towards the end, Wallace's writing was still descriptive and filled with magic. I wouldn't buy this book but it was a fun, fanciful read that I would recommend.