“I have tried to recapture my own state of ignorance and confusion about my parents’ divorce because that is the only way one can understand the decisions I made at the time.”Steven Holloway, Queen of the Night
Title: Queen of the Night: A Fugitive’s Journey Across 1964 America
Author: Steven Holloway
Genres: Historical Fiction, Young Adult
Pages: 197 (Kindle)
Published: June 6th, 2022
My Rating: ★★★ ½
Read: 7/27/2022 – 8/3/2022
Set in the middle of the 1960s, we follow thirteen-year-old Thomas’ personal diary where he jotted down the events leading up to and following his parents’ divorce. John claims the mother of his children is crazy. Lesley insists she has been wrongfully accused by both John and the court. Being the oldest of the four children, Thomas is caught in the middle, often unsure of who’s really got his best interest at heart.
Lesley decides to take matters into her own hands after the ruling. She packs up the kids and sets out west unbeknownst to John. Thomas is enamored with their travels at first, seeing this as an adventure. However, as time goes on, the trials of living life on the road start to hit him as well as his two brothers and sister. With the help of some new friends, they eventually settle in Wyoming. Just as they start to adapt to their new lives, John shows up to bring his children home.
Though angry at first, Thomas soon realizes he feels safer with his father. He and his siblings are no longer the targets of their mother’s temper, they have beds and a clean house, and many other basic necessities that had slowly been weaned out of their lives on the road. So when Lesley shows up in Ohio once again, he is at a loss. Whose side should he take?
The book is an engaging, easy read with a mix of perspectives as Thomas is revisiting the diary years later. His thoughts are written in green and blue ink along with the years the notes were taken. His perception of that time in his life ebbs and flows with age. The ink took some getting used to. The colors are harsh on the eyes for longer sections, but the margins are clear which is the important thing.
Readers of YA will enjoy this the most. Thomas’ youthful voice comes across clearly. It’s also a good work of historical fiction with quite a few mentions of the politics of the time, namely presidents and elections. There were some moments that dragged on as well as several repetitive passages, however, in light of the journal structure and age of the protagonist, it ultimately works if that’s something you like. I think I would have enjoyed it more with an alternate POV. With everything limited to Thomas’ perspective, many things were left ambiguous where they could otherwise have gone deeper. Still, it’s worth the read, especially where it’s based on a true story.
Thanks to Discovery for providing a free digital copy to read and review.
Likes & Dislikes:
What I liked:
- The plot. Though they went about it the wrong way, Lesley and John’s battle for their children makes for an intriguing book.
- The scenery. Steven Holloway write great descriptions of the western United States.
What I didn’t like:
- An overuse of exclamation points. I find it distracting.
- The limited POV. I would have loved to have seen Lesley’s perspective.
- A darker shade of blue for the blue ink margins. The blue used was hard on my eyes. The green used was fine.
- There were some really random moments that went minimally explained, especially toward the end.
This was my first ARC through Reedsy’s Discovery site. It pushed me out of my review writing comfort zone, but I enjoyed the process more than I thought. The book was good too, even if it didn’t turn out to be a five-star read for me. I would suggest a YA label be added to this book.