Two White Queens and the One-Eyed Jack


“How the characters in this story are interconnected is a marvel of storytelling.” — JOHN IRVING

Fate, circumstance, and the symbolism of sight collide in this modern gothic novel.

On a hot June day in 1965, two six-year-old boys, Gareth and Jack, compete to see who can climb higher up a tree. When Jack falls and loses his eye on a thorn bush, the accident sets off a series of events that will bind the boys together for the rest of their lives.

When the best friends meet albino twins Clara and Blanca, a shared fate unfolds. With Gareth and Jack’s help, the twins are able to reclaim their lives and leave their nightmarish past behind them.

From the shores of Lake Ontario to the hustle of Berlin, from the art of oculary to punk opera, this is a story of dark secrets, suppressed desires, forgiveness, and love.


Loan Stars Jan/Feb 2021 Top 10 List


I loved it. It captured me and I could not put it down. Great original storytelling!

Jeremy Irons, Academy Award-winning actor

This novel weaves worlds together. It is not only full of
sensual imagery and pinpoint details, but it is brave, and bold, and necessary.

Lauren B. Davis, author of The Grimoire of Kensington Market and Even So

I don’t think it’s too much to say that Two White Queens and the One-Eyed Jack is one of the best novels I have read. 

Thom Ernst, film critic

Even when I finished the book, it seemed that the characters hung around me for days, breaking into my every moment.

Kati Preston, author of From Holocaust to Healing

"And in the eye is the reflection of the entire world." To read Heidi von Palleske is to feel Milan Kundera walking along the shores of Lake Ontario. Two White Queens and the One-Eyed Jack is a magnificent story, beginning with the seed of a boyhood blinding and branching out in haunting and surprising directions, all rooted in that seed. Von Palleske has an honest eye, capturing the loss and renewal of human relationships with precision and compassion – much like the lonely ocularist who inhabits her painful yet redemptive world.

Rod Carley, author of Kinmount

Exquisite writing ... a gorgeous book.

Daniel Baird, founder of The Brooklyn Rail

A brilliant novel with its conceptual expansiveness, its eclectic characters with their quirky attributes, and its erudition and keen observations about so many things. Heidi’s writing is a seamless fusion of poetry and prose.

Jeffrey Side, reviewer and editor, Argotist Magazine

Captivating revelations, brisk candour, and irreverence… Heidi is a gifted writer.

Charles Pitts, writer and producer at Novalis Films

A meticulously woven, life-affirming and heartbreaking story that took my breath away.

Craig Sheffer, actor, A River Runs Through It and One Tree Hill

A deeply engrossing story that keeps you turning the page in this richly cinematic novel. Von Palleske's well etched characters immediately capture your attention and never let it go.

Gwynyth Walsh, actress, Man in the High Tower and Star Trek

A story so well told it literally takes your breath away. It's weird, wonderful, horrific, heartbreaking, poignant, and hilarious. Heidi von Palleske's brilliant novel takes a collection of entirely oddball, deeply damaged characters and chronicles their strange and intricate destinies with remarkable insight, endless compassion and razor sharp wit. She clearly loves these people and you will too. Read this book and be transported. I sure as hell was.

Jeffrey Hirschfield, writer/producer/director

The research is so deep, the characters so beautifully drawn and so human. The structure, so much flow, so musical. This is a work of very substantial literature. It is nothing short of a staggering work of genius.

Matt Zimbel, writer, director, producer, musician (Manteca)

Without exaggeration I am in awe.

Steve DiMarco, director/writer

Wow! What a symphony for the imagination! A massive accomplishment. Heidi writes the way Monet paints!

Elizabeth Lennie, acclaimed visual artist

Heidi's writing weaves a magical tale, full of fascinating characters, and brimming with unforgettable images, tying together love, pain and mystery.

Martin Harbury, producer

High praise for Heidi von Palleske's Two White Queens and the One-Eyed Jack. It borders on the magical but remains earthly real, it is whimsical but heart-wrenching and it weaves the wonder of being able to awaken all your senses. It will be a novel you will want to read more than once.

Lynne Griffin, actress (Black Christmas, Strange Brew)

Lush, raw, poetic and rich. The book uses language to paint a picture. The characters leap off the page. The dialogue is razor-sharp, with both humour and pathos... This book is original, unlike anything I have ever read and I am quite sure that I will return to it many times. A brilliant piece of writing!

Eve Crawford, author of I Paint Gophers

A life-changing childhood accident, one that is formative of the adult lives to follow, is a testimony to D.H. Lawrence's view of the novel as 'the highest complex of subtle interrelatedness.' How the characters in this story are interconnected is a marvel of storytelling. This is a novel about the calamitous changes in history, in both personal and national history.

John Irving, acclaimed novelist and Academy Award-winning screenwriter

Quirky and meticulous, Two White Queens and the One-Eyed Jack is a literary novel of substantial merit.

Foreword Reviews

About the Author

Heidi von Palleske

Posted by Kendra on December 17, 2019
Heidi von Palleske photo

Heidi von Palleske

Heidi von Palleske is a writer, actor, and activist. She has written poetry, articles, and fiction, and won the H.R. Percy Novel Prize for They Don’t Run Red Trains Anymore. Heidi spends time on both the Atlantic and Pacific Coasts, but calls Toronto home.