Wednesday, February 21, 2024

*Review* The Black Queen by Jumata Emill


Genre: YA Thriller
Published: January 31, 2023
Pages: 396

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.

For Black History Month this year, I decided I wanted to really focus my reading on books by Black authors, and as I'm currently on a YA horror/thriller kick, this was a great book to start me off. I was immediately drawn into the story, and although one of the two characters started out comparing situations to She's All That, I saw some serious Bring it On vibes at the beginning of things. In both cases Gabrielle Union is the reason for the comparisons (and even though she's over 40, she could probably STILL play a convincing teenager). 

This story is told from two perspectives, her best friend Duchess and her arch-enemy Tinsley. They ultimately have the same goal of finding out who killed Nova and will stop at nothing to do it. Duchess wants justice for her friend and Tinsley desperately needs to clear her name, because she's the number one suspect after a drunken rant goes viral. 

I'd love to tell you that I saw all the twists and turns coming, and figured out who the killer was immediately, but that would be a big fat stinking lie. This book consistently had me second-guessing myself, and I didn't really figure out who the killer was until Tinsley and Duchess did. That basically never happens to me. 

As an added bonus, this book gave me up close and personal insight into how Black police officers can be viewed in their community, and the extra pressure it puts on them. 

Overall I give The Black Queen 4.76854 out of 5 stars. - Katie 

Jumata Emill is a journalist who has covered crime and local politics in Mississippi and parts of Louisiana. He earned his BA in mass communications from Southern University and A&M College. He’s a Pitch Wars alum and a member of the Crime Writers of Color. When he’s not writing about murderous teens, he’s watching and obsessively tweeting about every franchise of the Real Housewives. Jumata lives in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and is the author of The Black Queen and Wander in the Dark.

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