Book Reviews

Review: Queen of Tiles by Hanna Alkaf

I grew up playing scrabble with my mom, so when I saw this death which takes place at a competitive scrabble tournament? Sold. As a fan of Alkaf’s book, I had the highest hopes and they were still demolished! Keep reading this book review for my full thoughts.

Summary

CATALYST

13 points

noun: a person or thing that precipitates an event or change

When Najwa Bakri walks into her first Scrabble competition since her best friend’s death, it’s with the intention to heal and move on with her life. Perhaps it wasn’t the best idea to choose the very same competition where said best friend, Trina Low, died. It might be even though Najwa’s trying to change, she’s not ready to give up Trina just yet.

But the same can’t be said for all the other competitors. With Trina, the Scrabble Queen herself, gone, the throne is empty, and her friends are eager to be the next reigning champion. All’s fair in love and Scrabble, but all bets are off when Trina’s formerly inactive Instagram starts posting again, with cryptic messages suggesting that maybe Trina’s death wasn’t as straightforward as everyone thought. And maybe someone at the competition had something to do with it.

As secrets are revealed and the true colors of her friends are shown, it’s up to Najwa to find out who’s behind these mysterious posts—not just to save Trina’s memory, but to save herself.

Review

(Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)

Queen of Tiles is one of my most anticipated releases of 2022. Combining a murder investigation with a Scrabble competition, I finished this in two days. The suspense story line had me questioning everything I knew. The tension ranged from outright terror to that subtle hair raising feel on your neck. When I say I had to keep reading, I did! As a Scrabble fan, this is a must read. Alkaf is able to merge the strategy game play with psychology – delving into what our words reveal about us.

I could go on about the cleverness of the investigation story line, because that’s what made me feel like I had to finish. You know those books that pick you up and refuse to let you go? That’s Queen of Tiles. But I think what I loved the most was the writing. Alkaf is able to not only use these scrabble words at the beginning of each chapter to set the tone – but also in such a clever way. There were so many passages that I just took a step back and appreciated.

As someone who has read all of Alkaf’s book, this one is my favorite. There’s just something about the writing that feels clever in and of itself. I think it’s the ways that Alkaf connects the story and the characters to these Scrabble words. It feels seamless and intelligent, while also being obsessively readable. This idea about a game, our game play and choices, revealing ourselves? Brilliant. Queen of Tiles becomes about how we show people what we want them to see – the images of ourselves we share.

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Queen of Tiles is truly brilliant. It’s a story about jealously and friendship, love and betrayal. I was entirely swept away by the suspense and world play. If you like Scrabble or mysteries, this is a must read. Find Queen of Tiles on Goodreads, Amazon, Indiebound, Bookshop.org & The Book Depository.

Discussion

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