Featured Review: The Black Queen (Jumata Emill)


About This Book:

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 face 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 Contributed by Olivia Farr, Staff Reviewer*

THE BLACK QUEEN is an enthralling YA contemporary/mystery with powerful themes. The story is told from the perspectives of two teenagers, Duchess and Tinsley. Duchess is best friends with Nova, the first Black girl who might have a chance at getting Homecoming Queen, a title that for their school means way more than just one night of wearing a crown. The Homecoming Queen is a political title that means they will make appearances and be given countless opportunities to be a representative for the town. That is why Tinsley is so upset that Nova will not step down, so that she can have the title she feels she deserves – just like her mother and sister did when they were in high school.

When Nova is found dead following the coronation, all eyes turn to Tinsley – especially since, earlier that night, she was caught on camera wishing to do exactly that. Tinsley knows she did not do it, but she feels like everyone is against her. She decides to try to clear her name by talking to the people closest to Nova. When Duchess begins to think that maybe Tinsley might not be guilty, they decide to work together to investigate. As the case unravels, shocking secrets will be exposed.

What I loved: While this book is a murder-mystery, it importantly tackles really critical themes around racism. Between Nova and Tinsley, it captures not only the problems with systemic racism and the way this feeds into even small steps in the right direction being less than the gift white people think it is (performative activism), the book also discusses white fragility, how to overcome racist upbringings, the differences in the way suspects are treated based on race (Nova’s case is juxtaposed with that of a white family that was killed and their gardener who is Black being accused on very little evidence), and the way white people wield their privilege. Tinsley has a lot to learn, and while she is at first defensive, the messages being given to her by Duchess and others around her really help to put it together. It also encourages others to do the work and read for themselves to understand these elements rather than having people of color teach them. These themes were really powerful and conveyed in an approachable way that will really speak to readers.

In terms of the main characters, Duchess is a really compelling character. She is easy to like, really clever, and thoughtful. Her quick thinking really brings the story together, and she also brings Nova’s story to life. Tinsley is hard to like – a real mean girl who wields her privilege like a weapon, as she has been raised to do. Her character arc is really one of growth, forced upon her by the situation, but the person she is at the end of the story was certainly not the one at the beginning. Working together, there are elements of teenage detecting that are really fascinating as they look into who could have had motive for Nova’s murder.

There were definitely some shocking twists in the story. The red herring was really strong right from the start, and the surprise reveals at the end were anything but expected. A book that manages to thwart reader guesses is always one that leaves me satisfied. While it was a surprise, the clues were there throughout – it was very well-plotted. The mystery really drives the story, and it delivered big time.

Final verdict: With thought-provoking themes and a twisty mystery, THE BLACK QUEEN is a potent and consuming read that will keep readers on their toes. Highly recommend picking up this clever book!



*Find More Info & Buy This Book HERE!*