The Black Queen by Jumata Emill
Published: January 31st 2023 by Scholastic
Rating: ★★★ (3)
Genre: Young Adult // Contemporary Mystery, Thriller, LGBT
Quick Thoughts: I had really high hopes at the start as the writing flowed well and made for really easy reading, and the mystery was intriguing and kept me reading more than anything else.
About The Book:
Tinsley McArthur was supposed to become homecoming queen, just like generations of McArthur women before her. But in a bid for diversity, Lovett High wants a black queen this year and the top contender is the bold and beautiful Nova Albright. Though Tinsley tries to convince her to drop out, Nova isn’t about to step aside for some rich white girl.
On homecoming night, drunk and enraged, Tinsley is caught on camera declaring she should have killed Nova. The next morning Lovett High’s first Black homecoming queen turns up dead. Would Tinsley do anything for the crown?
Nova’s best friend Duchess certainly thinks so. So when Tinsley asks Duchess for help to clear her name, she agrees. She’s determined to get justice for Nova, even it means befriending a murderer to find proof against her. But their investigation begins to uncover secrets about Nova’s past and one big secret that could change everything in their small town.
I love a good mystery as much as the next reader, so I was really excited to read The Black Queen. I had seen a few mixed reviews from fellow bloggers which worried me at the start, so I went into it cautiously, not sure what to expect.
Tinsley McArthur’s family line has consisted of homecoming queens for generations. She thinks she’s almost guaranteed the coveted spot, however, her dreams are shattered when the title is a shoo-in for the stunning Nova Alright, who would be Lovett High’s first black queen. Despite trying her hardest to get Nova to drop out and tend to her sort-of “generational rite of passage” Nova remains firm. She’s not about to let a rich white girl get her way. But then, Nova turns up dead. And on homecoming night, a drunken Tinsley is caught wanting that to happen.
Nova’s best friend Duchess will do anything to make sure Tinsley is brought to justice over Nova’s death, even if it means teaming up with her to prove it. But befriending Tinsley is only the start of the confusing time ahead of Duchess. As a police investigation—and her own—unveils dark secrets of Nova’s past, everything changes. No longer are they searching for a murderer—but for the truth, before it all began.
Overall, The Black Queen was . . . definitely something I felt strongly about. I had really high hopes at the start as the writing flowed well and made for really easy reading, and the mystery was intriguing and kept me reading more than anything else. But as we bounce from one POV to another, leaning into more cliched tropes, I found myself becoming disconnected from what I thought was the true meaning of the book. I felt as though we were made to almost feel more sorry for Tinsley, the white character, than that of the black characters who were going through something, and that it was more of an ode to her unlearning her mistakes than that of the promised story. I definitely think that if you’re interested in seeing what other readers thought of this, namely from black reviewers and bloggers, I would urge you to have a look on Goodreads. For the mystery and writing alone, it was a solid four stars, but because of the ways it felt stereotyped, it became a three star novel for me.
About The Author
Jumata is a journalist who has covered crime and local politics in Mississippi and parts of Louisiana. He earned his B.A. in mass communications from Southern University and A&M College. He’s a Pitch Wars alum and 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, La.