Review of The Lost Queen of Crocker County

Somehow, very fortunately, the streak of wonderful books, and thus happy reviews, continues!

Also, I am sporting the worst sore throat I’ve ever had (yeah, until the next one 😉 ) and it’s cutting off the blood supply to my brain (or so it feels) so forgive me if the review is not as coherent as usual (hoping that usually they are coherent).

The Lost Queen of Crocker County: A Novel by [Leiknes, Elizabeth]


The Lost Queen of Crocker County

Elizabeth Leiknes

July 10, 2018

Sourcebooks Landmark

Blurb: Crocker County crowns a new Corn Queen every year, but Jane Willow’s the one you would remember. She can’t forget Iowa, either. Even though she fled to LA to become a film critic years ago, home was always there behind her.

But when a family tragedy happens, she’s forced to drive back to Crocker County. The rolling farmlands can’t much hide the things she left behind: the best friend she abandoned who now runs a meatloaf hotline, the childhood front porch that sits hauntingly empty, and that fiasco of a Corn Fest that spun her life in a different direction.

Before Jane can escape her past a second time, disaster strikes, and she will have to find a way to right her mistakes and save herself from her regrets. An unflinchingly love letter to the Midwest that unfolds through a celebration of movies, this ferociously endearing novel brings home the saving grace of second chances.


For some reason, it seems that many writers of women’s fiction believe that their novels should contain enough angst to peel paint from walls. Everything bad in the world happens to victimize their main character until you are drowning in their tears and need your own refuge.

Fortunately I’ve read two women’s fiction novels this year that defy that convention, and I hope that these novels spark a new trend.

The Lost Queen of Crocker County is one of those novels, which I finished reading in the wee hours of the morning because it was just that good.

Willow. Jane Willow (she likes to introduce herself like Bond) is a unique character. A film buff, an acid-tongued film critic, and a woman who has runaway from her past and home and refuses to return until occurrences beyond her control force her to. And even then, back home in Iowa, fate has another episode in store for her that may just prove to be her undoing.

I have an affinity for snarky characters as long as they don’t descend into crass. Jane is snarky and smart (without crass). While she seems prickly, bits of her real character, the one hiding under the surface appear.

While there is a huge coincidence, I was fine with it because it fit The Lost Queen of Crocker County. I felt Elizabeth Leiknes was invoking the hand of fate and tossing a little magic in as well, just the way you would imagine that they do in the movies. And, we realize that Jane is not only a movie buff, but she brings a bit of theatrical to her world as well.

All of the supporting characters felt like living, breathing people with their quirks and mood shift. Her best friend who she hasn’t spoken to in years is going through her own crisis and is operating a meatloaf hot line.

There are a few jaw-dropping hilarious moments like when Jane checks to see where her parents had stopped watching The Silence of the Lambs,and the neighbors bearing comfort food enter to see naked Buffalo Bill dancing around the screen and are mortified as much as Jane is. Then there are moments as when Jane looks into the deep freeze and sees all of the casseroles her mother had cooked, expecting her to return home. Next to each other, these scenes have the reader on a roller coaster of emotions.

And all the while there’s preparation for a high school production of The Music Man and there’s trouble right there in River City, paralleling the magic in Jane’s life.

The writing is frequently poetic with a good dose of practical philosophy that will have you stopping at intervals to reflect on life in general.

If you’ve stayed away from women’s fiction because of its predictability and victim-driven-angst, give this one a go. It’s a satisfying, unpredictable read.

I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

The Lost Queen of Crocker County goes on sale July 10. You can pre-order here.

rating: 5-butterflies

5 out of 5 butterflies


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