Four Dead Queens
Author: Astrid Scholte
Publication date: February 26, 2019
Genre: YA fantasy
A divided nation. Four Queens. A ruthless pickpocket. A noble messenger. And the murders that unite them.
Get in quick, get out quicker.
These are the words Keralie Corrington lives by as the preeminent dipper in the Concord, the central area uniting the four quadrants of Quadara. She steals under the guidance of her mentor Mackiel, who runs a black market selling their bounty to buyers desperate for what they can’t get in their own quarter. For in the nation of Quadara, each quarter is strictly divided from the other. Four queens rule together, one from each region:
Toria: the intellectual quarter that values education and ambition
Ludia: the pleasure quarter that values celebration, passion, and entertainment
Archia: the agricultural quarter that values simplicity and nature
Eonia: the futurist quarter that values technology, stoicism and harmonious community
When Keralie intercepts a comm disk coming from the House of Concord, what seems like a standard job goes horribly wrong. Upon watching the comm disks, Keralie sees all four queens murdered in four brutal ways. Hoping that discovering the intended recipient will reveal the culprit – information that is bound to be valuable bartering material with the palace – Keralie teams up with Varin Bollt, the Eonist messenger she stole from, to complete Varin’s original job and see where it takes them.
So, I’m going to try and not be super salty for this review but you might want to buckle up, its a long one.
So Four Dead Queens, you’ve probably seen this all over book twitter and bookstagram the past few months. I feel like Penguin and the author did a really great job marketing this book and getting the word out about it because it was EVERYWHERE. This is one of the reasons I requested and it’s a fantasy which is my jam and the synopsis sounded really great. That’s about where the greatness ends for me, besides the cover, the detail on those crowns is stunning.
Before I get into what I didn’t like and my issues with the book I’m going to list the things I did enjoy. I really liked the Four Queens and reading from their perspective, it was refreshing after reading from the main characters POV. I liked the plot for the most part and the twists that were introduced throughout, there was one or two where I was like “okay, yea, didn’t see that coming!” but the rest were predictable.
Anyways, this clearly wasn’t a hit for me, at all. Four Dead Queens had so much potential for this to be an amazing book and unfortunately I had many, many issues with it. So what were my issues you may ask, well: the characters, the world building, the writing, and the plot. I know its a lot. Lets start with the world building.
There really wasn’t any world building in this story. I couldn’t for the life of me tell you what Toria, Ludia or Archia looked like or the palace. There was just a general lack of world building which made it really difficult for me to get into the book. I am a reader who LOVES world building, give me all the world building, describe the smell of the streets, the way the light hits the glass on the towers, the way the docks reek like fish and how decrepit and run down it looks. Tell me these things in detail, there wasn’t any of that in this book. The only world building aspects I can tell you is that Eonia is futuristic looking with tall sleek buildings and that the palace has gold everywhere.
Side note: something I didn’t enjoy about the actual world itself was the differences between the quadrants. one was futuristic with highly advanced technology and medicine and another was archaic, everything was done by hand and they weren’t allowed electricity. It was just so bizarre. But that’s personal preference. This was mostly a mix of sci-fi and fantasy. Sci-fi is a really hard genre to write and to get right and I think that it just fell flat in this story, unfortunately.
Next the characters, oh the characters, what a nightmare. First of all the majority (all) of the characters were bland and two dimensional. None of the characters went through much if any character development in this 400 page book. There really wasn’t a ton of backstory to the characters and they were honestly just boring like cardboard cutouts. What about the main character? Well, my god, what an irritating character Keralie was. Keralie was reckless, selfish, rude and mean to EVERYONE, cocky and her decision making skills were non existent. I don’t have any issue with characters being cocky, rude, selfish or reckless but when one character is all of those things its too much. She was a completely unlikable character and as the main character it was hard to get through the book. She was also very juvenile and before any of you come out and say “ITS YA SHE IS JUVENILE” bahumbug. She read like she was 13 at times when shes supposed to be 17.
Speaking of Keralie, obviously there was a bit of romance in the book and man, the romance went from Oh hey, I don’t know who you are, to, OMG I LOVE YOU, real fast. No, no no no no. Insta-love is the absolute worst. I don’t even know how the love interest could stand Keralie when I certainly couldn’t.
Next lets talk about the writing. The writing was alright but it definitely wasn’t the best I’ve ever read and I felt like the author did a lot of telling instead of showing. This ties in with the world building, there really weren’t a lot of descriptors in the book so you could get a feel for the world or so you could connect with the writing. For example there were multiple sentences along the lines of “They boarded the train.”, “They entered the palace” and that was it, that was the sentence. It’s really hard to connect with the writing and feel interested in the story when there are multiple instances of writing like that.
And lastly the plot. The plot was pretty good however the execution was poor. Obviously the four Queens die and there is an inspector trying to figure out who did it, this all happens in the middle part of the book. Now as a murder mystery novel you would expect to be introduced to the criminal mastermind somewhere near the beginning of the story, no? WRONG, that didn’t happen in this book, you don’t get introduced until you are well into the story…?? WHAT? Hopefully in the final version this is changed.
Who would I recommend this to? Maybe someone who doesn’t read a lot of fantasy or is on the younger side of YA.
Thank you to Penguin Teen Canada for sending me an advanced copy for review. All opinions are my own.