Four Dead Queens by Astrid Scholte
Seventeen-year-old Keralie Corrington may seem harmless, but she’s, in fact, one of Quadara’s most skilled thieves and a liar. Varin, on the other hand, is an honest, upstanding citizen of Quadara’s most enlightened region, Eonia. He runs afoul of Keralie when she steals a package from him, putting his life in danger. When Varin attempts to retrieve the package, he and Keralie both find themselves entangled in a conspiracy that leaves all four of Quadara’s queens dead.
With no other choices and on the run from Keralie’s former employer, the two decide to join forces, endeavoring to discover who has killed the queens and save their own lives in the process. When their reluctant partnership blooms into a tenuous romance, they must overcome their own dark secrets in hopes of a future together that seemed impossible just days before. But first they have to stay alive and untangle the secrets behind the nation’s four dead queens.
Note: I don’t really review books anymore, but I loved Four Dead Queens so much that I had to share it here.
I received an uncorrected galley of Four Dead Queens, and I have to be honest, I’ve been waiting to read this for over a year (after I first heard about it when Astrid Scholte got into Pitch Wars). (Potential spoilers below.)
It did not disappoint! I read the whole book in one afternoon, and by the end I was left wanting more. Astrid has built an amazing world with Quadara, and created some distinct, incredibly likable characters.
The protag Keralie is resourceful, clever, and witty, and by the end she grows into a brave, empathetic character who finds some redemption from her past mistakes.
She also has a really complicated relationship with her mentor Mackiel. He is both the one who leads her away from her safe, honest life and the one who saves her from her greatest shame (or at least lets her stave off dealing with the repercussions of her actions and her emotions for a little while).Their exchanges throughout the book and the way their relationship evolves is so interesting, and a great example of how the world is rarely black and white.
The same goes for her love interest Varin. They come from two totally different worlds (Toria and Eonia) yet they learn to appreciate each other’s differences, and in the end it makes them stronger.
Then of course there are the four queens, who each have their own secrets that are slowly and deliciously revealed. My favorite was Queen Corra of Eonia. Her past is not typical for her people, and allows her to see the world in a different way. It also opens her up to new experiences and shows her that just because something has been a certain way for years, doesn’t mean it’s the only way, or even necessarily the right way.
There are also so many wonderful fantastical details about the different quarters of Quadara and how their cultures work. I especially enjoyed learning about the technology from the Eonia quarter, and how their values led to a stoic, and in some ways cruel society.
(Can you tell I have a favorite quarter? Though Toria is a close second for me.)
Whenever I thought I’d figured out where the story was going, there was a new twist. Each one builds upon the last, and then even in the end things are not neatly wrapped up. But it’s all done in a way that makes sense, in a much more realistic, satisfying way than if everything were perfect. The world of Quadara is so rich, and undergoes so many changes in Four Dead Queens, it would be amazing to one day read more stories about these characters.
In the meantime, I’m looking forward to Astrid’s second book. It’s an untitled YA sci fi / fantasy book, and it doesn’t come out until 2020, but Astrid’s writing is so addictive I already know I’ll love it.
Genre: YA, Fantasy