*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. Copyright 2012 Booklist Reviews.Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews
The fifth novel from Wallace (Big Fish) is an imaginative, sentimental modern-day tall tale. Its setting, the village of Roam (quite possibly in the Appalachian Mountains), is centered on a once-thriving silk factory established by the local patriarch, Elijah McCallister, after he returned from China with silk worms as his cargo and a young silk merchant, Ming Kai, as his prisoner. One hundred years later, Elijah's teenaged great-granddaughters Helen and Rachel are left to fend for themselves after their parents die in a freak auto crash. The eldest, Helen, cursed with a face "ugly from the day she was born," deceives the blind Rachel into thinking herself the homely one, never telling her she has "the face of an angel." The difficulties of the sisters' relationship climax with Helen abandoning Rachel, who in her agitation flees into the surrounding forest. Meanwhile, ghosts from decrepit Roam's glory days mingle with its current residents, including diminutive tavern owner Digby Chang. Throw a lonely but helpful lumberjack named Mr. Smith into the mix, along with a magical river, and Wallace's far-fetched, rollicking yarn, written in the vein of Manly Wade Wellman and Fred Chappell, consistently engages the reader. Agent: Gray Tan, the Grayhawk Agency. (May) [Page ]. Copyright 2013 PWxyz LLC
When their parents die an untimely death, a blind, naèive younger sister becomes wholly dependent on her bitter and conniving older sister, who overprotectively imparts stories of a brutal and dangerous world until the younger sister makes a surprising choice.Review by Publisher Summary 2
When their parents die an untimely death, a blind, naïve younger sister becomes wholly dependent on her bitter and conniving older sister, who overprotectively imparts stories of a brutal and dangerous world until the younger sister makes a surprising choice. By the author of Big Fish.Review by Publisher Summary 3
From the celebrated author of Big Fish comes an imaginative, moving novel about two sisters, their dark legacy, and the magical town that entwines 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 suddenly, 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 novel Big Fish. Wildly inventive and beautifully written, The Kings and Queens of Roam is a big-hearted tale of family and the ties that bind.