ARC provided by Penguin in exchange for an honest review.
Title: Four Dead Queens
Author: Astrid Scholte
Genre: YA Fantasy
Publication Date: February 26, 2019
My Rating: ★★★★
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.
Four Dead Queens is, hands down, my most anticipated release of 2019. Once I saw the cover reveal I was deceased. Four queens ruling + murders? Yes please. Combining a mystery with royalty is quite possibly one of my most favorite things ever.
“May the queens forever rule the day. Together, yet apart.”
In the world of Quadara there are four quadrants; each quadrant specializes in a particular trade and they all rely on one another to live as one symbiotic nation. And these four quadrants are each ruled by a queen (and ONLY queens).
The four quadrants and their queens are:
Queen Corra of Eonia: Corra is 25 years old and her physical features are described as having dark hair and brown skin. Her quadrant specializes in technology, medicine, science, and stoicism.
Queen Stessa of Ludia: At 16, Stessa is the youngest queen. Her features are described as having dark skin and hair. Her quadrant is known for lavish clothing, celebrations, art, and entertainment.
Queen Iris of Archia: Iris is 30 years old and her features are described as pale with light colored hair. She is known to be stern and wants to keep technology out of Archia as much as possible. Archia is known for developing agriculture and providing food for the other quadrants.
Queen Marguerite of Toria: Marquerite is 40 years old and is the eldest and longest reigning queen. Her physical features are pale skin and auburn hair. Her quadrant of Toria provides imports and exports between the quadrants, and they value education.
Each of these queens also holds a deep secret that they absolutely cannot let other members of the court find out. Their secrets go against Queenly Law and could forever damage the balance of powers.
But then each queen is murdered and a girl (and thief) named Keralie gets thrown into the frenzy when she is assigned by her mentor, Mackiel, to pickpocket an Eonist messenger named Varin. However, Keralie doesn’t realize that the item she steals will forever change her life. Soon a murder mystery unfolds as Keralie and Varin try to help find out who committed the queens’ murders.
This book really packed a punch from the very first chapter. From there it was such a fast-paced page-turner of a book. You will not want to put this one down.
What I liked:
The character development. I was pleasantly surprised by how much background information we got about each of the queens. I was heavily invested in their lives and I loved the mystery behind each of them. Also, huge props to Scholte for not just glossing over the major events about each queen in a prologue.
The multiple POVs. Reading so many POVs actually helped move the story along smoothly and contributed to the fast pacing of the story. You get POVs from all the queens as well as Keralie.
The world building. The nation of Quadara was so fun to read about and I loved how each of the quadrants tied so seamlessly into each other. I really liked seeing how there was a balance between futuristic technology and old-school agricultural methods. I was especially invested in the medical practices (especially death days!)
The twists and schemes. If you like political intrigue, backstabbing, and twists galore… then you’re probably going to like this book, too!
This book is a standalone! Yay! Rejoice! I love when a book, especially a murder mystery, wraps up nicely!
What I Didn’t Like:
The villain(s). Without spoilers, I just wasn’t invested enough in the side plot regarding a certain “bad guy.”
The romance really felt like it was shoehorned in there and overall didn’t feel necessary. I would’ve much rather preferred a platonic friendship. I also feel like a certain character was too good for another certain character, and that they would’ve been better off without the other.
Some aspects of the end left me scratching my head a little bit because it felt a bit too outlandish. And I wish we received better explanations/visuals on how certain events unfolded.
Overall this was such a fun, well written debut novel. I’m so glad I picked up this book and got to be part of this blog tour. I know this book is going to be a hit for so many readers out there. Four Dead Queens comes out on February 26, 2019 and you can submit your pre-order receipt here for swag! (Offer ends February 25, 2019. US residents only.)
Buddy read with Heather @ Bookables!