Cover Image: The Black Queen

The Black Queen

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Member Reviews

The characters felt real. Though none were wholly likeable.
The audiobook is fire 🔥 the narrators are a-mazing! The emotions is raw and tense.
This book is racially tense. It was difficult to read at times. Not because it wasn’t good writing… it was amazing writing!
The message of this book is good. One that will stay with me for a long time.
Our families may not be perfect. But children are products of their environment. The only way to change anything in this generation or the next is by being a role model now to our family and our friends.

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The Black Queen was a dramatic, dark, and thought-provoking thriller that wasn't afraid to tackle the tough issues--racism, underage sex, teenage pregnancy, corruption, white privilege, and child abuse. We hear the story from dual points of view: Duchess, the best friend of the victim, who suspects Tinsley and pushes her police captain father to bring justice. And the second is Tinsley, the worst kind of white privileged mean girl that you may wholeheartedly hate. Could she really be the one who brutally killed her opponent?

The book felt a bit long and to be honest I thought it was predictable. I appreciate what it was trying to do though.

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I wanted to enjoy this one, I really did. The Prom Queen murder mystery was enough to grab my interest, but unfortunately, this whole novel read like it was written by an adult who thinks they’re dialed in with how teenagers speak. The whole thing is giving very heavy handed after-school-special vibes.

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Jumata Emill's THE BLACK QUEEN is an engrossing murder mystery that will leave you on edge until the final page. The story takes place in Lovett, a small town. It explores the aftermath of the murder of Nova Albright, the first Black homecoming queen at Lovett High.

Tinsley McArthur, a wealthy and privileged white student, was supposed to be the queen and has become the main suspect in Nova's murder. Duchess Simmons, Nova's best friend and daughter of the first Black police captain in Lovett, is determined to prove Tinsley's guilt and bring justice to her friend.

Emill masterfully weaves together race relations, high school drama, friendship, and justice themes in this thought-provoking and timely novel.

While THE BLACK QUEEN is a thrilling and socially relevant read, some readers may feel disappointed with the major plot twist reveal of who the killer is and their motive. It was kinda underwhelming for me, considering all of the delicious tension and suspense that led up to it.

Nevertheless, Emill's writing is engaging, and the story is still entertaining and thought-provoking.

For fans of small town murder mysteries, this book is a must-read and a solid 4.5 out of 5 stars.

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I thought this was a fun book, It was a murder mystery centered around a high school, involving race and personal drama. While I found some aspects to be a bit over the top, “The Black Queen” kept my interest and the mystery part was one that did surprise me, which I can appreciate. 3.5 stars ⭐️ rounding up to 4 stars ⭐️.

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It's a alright read. Just wish the book was more focus on the best friend but it's a good story. I would recommend this book.

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The premise of the book is that the first Black homecoming queen, Nova, is murdered the night of her coronation. Two girls, Duchess and Tinsley, take it upon themselves to solve the crime before the police charge the wrong person. Duchess was Nova’s best friend, while Tinsley was Nova’s greatest rival and the police’s prime suspect.

This book explores very real issues such as racism, systemic racial injustice in the police system, and familial abuse. It’s told through multiple POVs, switching between Duchess and Tinsley, so we get two different perspectives (Black and White) on what’s unraveling in these character’s lives. Throughout the book, both Duchess and Tinsley are forced to self-reflect on who they are, while calling each other out on their biases and privileges.

For me, The Black Queen is a difficult novel to classify, because I’m not entirely sure who the intended audience is. The use of a Black girl on the front cover and the fact that the author himself is Black leads readers to believe the main character (and perhaps main audience) of this book is also Black. However, the book does seemed to be heavily focused on Tinsley’s story of self-discovery rather than on Duchess’ story of fighting for racial equality. On top of that, the main focus on the Black community in this book revolves around trauma and pain. If you look at the reviews of this book on Goodreads, a lot of Black readers were put off by these aspects, and I can understand why.

On the other hand, the book starts off with a very Black vs White narration where it’s a constant feeling of “us vs them” between the Black students at this school and the White students, both justified and not. There are a instances of the White characters being very openly racist and instances of the Black characters being openly prejudice in return. Other racial groups were not really acknowledged at any point. I was worried that this book was going to be like that the entire way through, where there was going to be no accounting of the wrongs committed on all sides, but I ended up being pretty satisfied with how things were resolved in the end. That being said, if there were a non-Black reader who was on the fence about their feelings regarding racial tensions, I think that initial framing would put them off from getting to the important message at the end.

All in all, if you’re someone who likes YA mystery/thriller novels and are prepared to read about hard issues like racism, sexual abuse, blackmail, abortion, parental abuse, etc, then this book is a good option.

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The Black Queen was one wild ride through a school and town with a lot of issues. The dual narration between Tinsley and Duchess worked really well and helped see both sides of the towns issues and viewpoints. I especially liked Tinsley's growth throughout the book in realizing that black people are often slighted, even though it appears that they aren't.

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this book was a very easy read that i'm sure has an audience, but it very much was not for me. I don't feel ccomfortable rating it as I didn't realize a lot about this book before reading it.

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Nova was the first black Homecoming Queen in town, and rival Tinsley was caught on video spilling a hateful, racist message about how Nova had stolen the crown that was rightfully hers. After the Homecoming ceremony, Nova turns up dead, and Tinsley's video goes viral and casts her as the primary suspect.
This book is told in dual narration by Duchess, Nova's best friend, and Tinsley herself. The two girls begin investigating the truth behind Nova's murder as rivals, but by the end, they find themselves teaming up together to discover secrets so dark and deep they never would have imagined.

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2.5 stars

I was really excited for this one. The cover screamed Carrie. So perhaps it’s really just a ‘me’ problem and not the book. I think I’ve been reading too many thrillers back to back, that this one got lost. I wasn’t as into it as I wanted to be and found it easy to figure out the ‘who’ part.

Okay. So here is where the discussion gets real. And again. This is just my personal opinion. But it felt like the white girl took the centre of the story, and maybe this was to open the eyes of white readers on white privilege? I’m Asian, and appreciate when an author wants to educate. But honestly, all I was expecting and wanting, was a story/thriller with a mainly black cast. This was very topic heavy and unfortunately, not for me.

I think for the right reader, they’ll love it.

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*received for free from netgalley for honest review* Was looking forward to reading this book for a while now and was so happy to get a copy! Really loved this, the end was shocking but awesome! would recommend and reread in the future

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A timely YA thriller. Nova is the first Black homecoming queen to be elected at her southern high school. Unfortunately, on the night of the coronation, she is murdered. Queen Bee and absolute witch Tinsley is the biggest suspect, as she had expected to be homecoming queen and was filmed ranting and raving that Nova should die that same night... Nova's best friend Duchess suspects Tinsley, like everyone else, and commits herself to finding out the truth when she feels that her police chief father isn't working hard enough to arrest this rich white girl. Both girls have plenty of motivation to find the true killer. They end up having to work together to uncover the secrets that led to Nova's death.

Obviously racism, especially in the criminal justice system, plays a large role in the plot of this thriller. Tinsley is hard to like in the beginning especially. She says and does things that are racist and so inappropriate. She does learn from her mistakes, and seems interested in truly growing by the end of the novel though. I enjoyed Duchess as a character, and kind of wish there could have been more to her side of the story. The murder mystery was well thought out, with plenty of red herrings; I didn't guess the true culprit easily. Overall an enjoyable YA thriller with a clear message.

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I didn't understand this book. It basically read like a white redemption story but a black character had to die first. The characters weren't convincing and I just didn't enjoy it.

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I liked this book. It was fast paced and suspenseful. I thought it was well written. I appreciated the diversity, BIPOC and LGBTQIA+. The characters were easy to like and well developed. I am usually good at guessing who the bad guy is but this one surprised me. This one was not even on my list of suspects. I am still thinking about this book and will follow the author.

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An individual reader's enjoyment of this book will greatly depend on how much they tolerate YA about a white protagonist learning to not be racist after hanging out with a Black protagonist. The mystery element is solid, however, and many of the conversations the characters have about race and class feel like teenagers trying to digest these ideas rather than a Twitter thread the author is parroting.

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This book was disappointing.

It had the bones of a great thriller in the making, but it read as very "How do you do, fellow kids?" The dialogue was awkward, the interpersonal dynamics of the characters were jarring and forced a lot of the time, and the story kept trying to throw curve balls at you as if to trick you into not seeing the obvious.

At the end of the day, it used the violent murder and desecration of her body as a plot device in showing her best friend, a Black girl, that she was "biased against white people" and to show a white girl the error of her racist ass ways.

It frankly left a bad taste in my mouth, and I would not recommend it to other readers, especially not Black and non-Black women of colour.

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The Black Queen is a complex and hard hitting mystery with a lot of tough and timely issues throughout. From the very beginning of the book, I loved how Emill made the reader and his characters all too aware of the hard topics about what it means to be Black in America. From the uphill battle to be represented in the same spaces as white people, to the differences in how society treats Blacks and whites when each are accused of the same type of crime.

Within these pages the author introduces three types of Black characters: Duchess, the daughter of the police captain, who finds herself in the difficult position of knowing that biases against Black people exist and as such are treated differently by the police, while facing an internal fight of both showing support for the police (her father) and also wanting to protest the actions of police towards innocent and unarmed Black men; Nova, who finds herself to be the first Black Homecoming Queen in her school’s history in an attempt to even the playing field and be more equitable to the students while harboring a myriad of secrets; and Giselle, one of Tinsely’s best friends who sees herself as being better than the other Black kids in the school and as such is referred to as “Candace Owens” for her perceived betrayal of the Black students and the Black race.

This internal dialogue of what it means to be Black, whether or not it’s okay to support the police when you are Black, and the high wire balancing act of being friends with and even engaging in romantic relationships with members of the white race are all topics which play out in the real world on a daily basis and as such are topics that I have found myself faced with at different times in my life.

While the topic of “Blackness and what it means to be Black” is woven throughout, the other major theme of the book is the one that Tinsely finds herself being made all too aware of, being a white privileged woman who is ignorant of her privilege and through her actions,both directly and indirectly, is perceived by many of her fellow Black students as being a racist. I loved seeing Tinsely as she was faced with the harsh reality that due to the color of her skin and her family’s wealth, she was able to walk around free during the police investigation, while a Black man in the next town was arrested and placed in jail with even less “evidence” than what the police had against Tinsely.

As loathsome of a character as Tinsely was in the beginning, I really enjoyed seeing her growth throughout the book and how hard she worked not only to prove she was innocent, but also how she came to see that white privilege is a thing that she herself possessed and the harm said privilege can inflict. I loved that Tinsley’s sister, Rachel, recognized the slippery slope she was on and attempted to warn her of it, sadly to no avail. Thankfully as the book continued, Rachel was still there and more than willing to help her sister overcome her own internalized biases and become a better person. The two sisters even share a wonderful and insightful discussion, where Rachel tells her,

“Don’t make your guilt the baggage of others to deal with. It’s not their job to hold our hands and make us feel better. Do what I did in college: read books about this stuff,…”

Reading this part of the story I couldn’t help but say “Amen!” While this seems like such a simple concept, ever since the murder of George Floyd the summer of 2020, many white people have been wanting to know how they can do and be better but rather than do the research themselves they turn to their Black friends and co-workers expecting them to educate them on what it means to be Black and the ongoing institutionalized racism that exists to this day and the systems that were created to keep Black people down rather than pickup any of the books that have been and continue to be written on this very topic.

This is a book that I could very easily rave about and examine all day, but I won’t. Instead I would encourage you to read it for yourself, as this is a mystery that will have you on the edge of your seat and guessing until the very end. I also invite you to come back to this space upon finishing, as I’d be more than happy to discuss your thoughts and feelings about it.

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Touching on social issues, this book was wonderful from start to finish. It kept me rooting Nova (obviously) and determined to find out who hurt her. I did guess what was going on pretty early on but I loved reading it nonetheless.

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SLOW CLAPPING FOR THIS WHOLE BOOK. I was immediately interested in the storyline and appreciated the representation!

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