Disclaimer: I received an e-arc of this book from the publisher. Thanks! All opinions are my own.
Book: The Black Queen
Author: Jumata Emill
Book Series: Standalone
Diversity: Queer Sapphic Black MC, Queer Sapphic Black character, Black characters
Recommended For…: young adult readers, mystery, murder mystery, thriller, suspense, LGBT
Publication Date: January 31, 2023
Genre: YA Mystery Thriller
Age Relevance: 15+ (racism, sexual content, abortion, bullying, language, physical violence, underage alcohol consumption, murder, parental death, police brutality, COVID, cancer, sickness, childhood sexual assualt, alcoholism, religion, power imbalance relationship)
Explanation of Above: Racism is shown and mentioned in this book. There is some sexual content mentioned and abortion is mentioned and discussed. There are scenes of bullying and some cursing. There is some physical violence shown along with murder mentioned and a body shown. There is some scenes of underage alcohol consumption and alcoholism is mentioned. There is parental death mentioned by cancer, sickness is mentioned, and COVID is also mentioned once. There are scenes of police brutality and a power imbalance relationship between a teacher and a high school student who is of age are shown. There are a couple of mentions of the Christian religion. Childhood sexual assault is mentioned a couple of times, but nothing graphic is mentioned or shown.
Publisher: Writers House
Synopsis: Nova Albright was going to be the first Black homecoming queen at Lovett High—but now she’s dead. Murdered on coronation night. Fans of One of Us Is Lying and The Other Black Girl will love this unputdownable thriller. Nova Albright, the first Black homecoming queen at Lovett High, is dead. Murdered the night of her coronation, her body found the next morning in the old slave cemetery she spent her weekends rehabilitating. Tinsley McArthur was supposed to be queen. Not only is she beautiful, wealthy, and white, it’s her legacy—her grandmother, her mother, and even her sister wore the crown before her. Everyone in Lovett knows Tinsley would do anything to carry on the McArthur tradition. No one is more certain of that than Duchess Simmons, Nova’s best friend. Duchess’s father is the first Black police captain in Lovett. For Duchess, Nova’s crown was more than just a win for Nova. It was a win for all the Black kids. Now her best friend is dead, and her father won’t fact the fact that the main suspect is right in front of him. Duchess is convinced that Tinsley killed Nova—and that Tinsley is privileged enough to think she can get away with it. But Duchess’s father seems to be doing what he always does: fall behind the blue line. Which means that the white girl is going to walk. Duchess is determined to prove Tinsley’s guilt. And to do that, she’ll have to get close to her. But Tinsley has an agenda, too. Everyone loved Nova. And sometimes, love is exactly what gets you killed.
Review: I’ve never had a book that made me want to sit and fully take a moment to think about what I just read. And neither have I had a book that made me need to take breaks while reading it. This book is equal parts beautiful and brutal with the story. The story is about Nova, who is the high school’s first Black homecoming queen. This is a title that one of our duel protagonists, Tinsley, wanted in order to continue the family tradition of holding this title which has also upset her mother greatly. When Nova’s body is found after her coronation as queen, suspicion quickly falls on Tinsley after a video goes viral of her spouting racist rhetoric and threats on Nova’s life while she was drunk. The book quickly becomes a murder mystery in which our other protag, Duchess, commits herself to in order to get justice for her best friend. I overall really loved this book and I found the commentary on BLM and police brutality very honest and informative. I also enjoyed the side conversation about how police brutality, while disproportionately effecting BIPOC persons, can also effect white people with ineffectual policing, warped interpretations of the law, and skewed investigations. I also very much appreciated the discussion on reverse racism, what it is, and how it’s harmful. The book had great character development and good world building. The twists were twisty and I suspected but didn’t see the outcome happening.
The only issue I had with the book is that sometimes the pacing slowed down quite a bit during some moments, which felt a tiny bit disjointed to me.
Verdict: It was amazing! Highly recommend!
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