REVIEW: FOUR DEAD QUEENS BY ASTRID SCHOLTE

Four Dead Queens
“Sometimes failure is the beginning of success.”

☆☆☆☆

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.

An enthralling fast-paced murder mystery where competing agendas collide with deadly consequences, Four Dead Queensheralds the arrival of an exciting new YA talent.

I had received this book in one of my monthly Owlcrate boxes and it came to me as a surprise, since this book was one that I couldn’t figure out. I’d heard a fair bit of hype surrounding the book and saw many people on WordPress and Twitter essentially raving about it, so I knew that it was going to be a good read. While I wasn’t completely sure when I was going to read it, discovering that this book was actually a standalone rather than a series, it allowed me to pick it up earlier than I intended. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good fantasy series, but I was afraid of getting too invested or kind of being pressured to start yet another new series. But I love that this book is simply a standalone and really, that’s all it needs to be. If this was turned into a series, I’d be pretty concerned. But I think because Astrid Scholte planned to make this one book and focus on this one story, she was able to say and do everything she wanted to and it came out being pretty darn good.

THE GOOD

  • I think for me, my favourite thing about the book was that the title essentially told you everything you needed to know. There were four queens in this world and they were all going to die. You’re not going to be shocked or surprised to find out these women will die because the title tells you that it’s gonna happen. What gets you, however, is not knowing when or how they’re going to die. That’s the real kicker. I actually expected to see all the queens dead from the very first page, expected this to be common knowledge throughout Quadaria, and for the story simply to revolve around Keralie trying to figure out who did this and why. I didn’t expect to see the four queens’ side of the story and to actually be walked through how and when they all die. It was a nice little surprise to me and liked how Scholte handled the deaths and wove them into the story.
  • I found Scholte’s writing to be pretty interesting and my opinion on the overall narrative style is probably the most confusing opinion I’ve ever given. Not for all of you who read my reviews and know what I like, but confusing to myself. I’m pretty specific when it comes to narrative styles and how authors choose to deal with POVs. I made my opinion quite clear in the other fantasy book I’m “reading” right now. Interestingly, Four Dark Queen more or less follows the same narrative structure that The Ruin of Kings does, but I promise that there’s a difference. That difference is that we need to be in Keralie’s first person POV to learn her story as it is currently happening, and we need to be in the four queens’ third person POV to see what is happening to them as it is happening to Keralie. We need to see both sides of the story to see what actually happens to the queens without having some kind of personal attachment. I felt that Scholte’s decision made sense for the story she was trying to tell and I liked that we got answers about the queens but still remained in the dark about the true assassin and kind of had to take what we knew from both narratives and attempt to piece it together.
  • Overall, I thought the characters were pretty good. I felt like Keralie was a good female lead and I liked how the point of the story was to see her accept her past and move forward from it and be a better person. I liked how she could accept that she didn’t have to be what others expected from her or feel guilt over not living up to expectations, and seeing how no one else can make her who she is but herself. While most of the book was focused on this story, there was that theme of accepting your past and finding yourself and ultimately moving forward. It was a nice theme in all of this. I really enjoyed Varin’s character and liked how he also fell into that theme but the expectation held over his head was the ideals of his quadrant and it was nice to see how you don’t have to be what your quadrant demands you to be, and that you always have that potential to be more. I felt that both Keralie and Varin were good influences on each other and didn’t try to mould or change the other, if that makes sense. They had their opposites but their similarities and it was a nice balance. And all of the four queens were so lovely in their own right and exemplified so many good, and bad, qualities of their quadrants and it really is a shame they had to die. 
  • The twist of who was behind all the murders was a bit predictable, but it also wasn’t. I don’t want to spoil it, since that’s not my style, especially for books like this, but I liked how Scholte kept us on our toes. She didn’t quite go for the obvious culprit but threw in a nice wild card to give us something to raise our eyebrows at. But the most shocking and twisty thing of all was the reveal of the assassin. I kept saying that I didn’t want the assassin to be who I was thinking it was because then it would’ve been too predictable and I would’ve been mad. It wasn’t completely batshit crazy like I wanted it but it still had a strong level of bonkers to it. It kind of put the whole story into perspective, and fledged out the narratives in a way, but it was a smart decision. It didn’t feel like something that Scholte pulled out of nowhere, which can sometimes happen when you’re trying to throw a big twist at your readers, but it was smart and calculated and it allows you to follow the overall trail right back to the beginning and see all of the signs. I liked how Scholte had hidden the answer in plain sight but threw a few red herrings at us. I didn’t expect this book to end on such a wild note but I’m glad that it did, given that I lost a fair bit of sleep after finishing it. It was worth it.

THE BAD

  • I kind of want to complain about the romance here because the tag line promises “two forbidden romances” and, first of all, there were multiple romances/couples here that I don’t know which two are the forbidden ones we’re talking about. Second of all, when it came to Keralie and Varin, I don’t like how Keralie thought she was in love with him at then end of the book because they’d known each other for maybe 4 days, 5 max. I don’t know about you but I don’t fall in love with people 4 days after meeting them. Having feelings for them? Sure. But love? That’s a little too premature for me. I absolutely loved Keralie and Verin together and thought they were super adorable, but the insta-love vibes were a bit of a downer.

THE BOTTOM LINE

  • Honestly, this book ended up being a nice little surprise in more ways than one. Overall, I’m quite impressed by Astrid Scholte and I don’t think she could’ve written a better debut novel. She is a pretty great storyteller and a brilliant mastermind, managing to pepper in smart twists throughout. She knew her limits, knew what she wanted to do within these limits, and executed it borderline perfectly. I’m hoping that this is the beginning of a great writing career from her because I would love to see what’s next from her.

BONUS: how this book made me feel in a GIF

Image result for shocked gif

ABOUT THE BOOK

Title: Four Dead Queens
Author: Astrid Scholte
Release Date: February 26, 2019
Pages: 432 (Hardcover)
Goodreads

Until next time,

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