The Kings and Queens of Roam

A Novel

The Kings and Queens of Roam

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.
  • Touchstone | 
  • 304 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781476703985 | 
  • July 2014
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Reading Group Guide

This reading group guide for The Kings and Queens of Roam includes an introduction, discussion questions, ideas for enhancing your book club, and a Q&A with author Daniel Wallace. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.


Inhabited by ghosts and wild dogs, mysterious lumberjacks and Chinese immigrants, and set in a wild place where rivers are magic and the forest is intent on claiming what was once its own, Daniel Wallace’s new novel is a powerful and imaginative story of two sisters, Helen and Rachel McCallister, and the dying town in which they live. Rachel is blind and has relied on Helen all her life, and Helen has both resented and taken advantage of her sister. But when Rachel strikes out on her own, both sisters discover that neither they nor the world in which they live are everything they believed, and that love and forgiveness can sometimes come at a cost.  

Topics & Questions for Discussion 

1. Wallace writes that Rachel and Helen “were known simply as the girls…the wonder of it was that they were thought of as girls at all, and not simply girl.” (4) Are Rachel and Helen as close as the townspeople of Roam perceive the see more

About the Author

Daniel Wallace
Photograph by Brent Clark

Daniel Wallace

Daniel Wallace is the author of five novels. His first, Big Fish, was made into a motion picture of the same name by Tim Burton in 2003, and a musical version on Broadway in 2013. He is a contributing editor to Garden & Gun magazine and is the J. Ross MacDonald Distinguished Professor of English at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, where he teaches and directs the Creative Writing Program. Visit his website at