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 Queens heralds the arrival of an exciting new YA talent.
*I received a free advanced reader’s copy of this book from Penguin Teen. This did not influence my review of this book in anyway. This is an honest review of the novel as I saw it. This novel will be released on February 26, 2019.*
There is so much that I loved about this book, I don’t even know where to begin. Let’s just start with the world in general. Astrid Scholte gave me a fantasy world where there is no magic, and I love her for it. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good magical system, but the way Scholte was able to build this world where magic-like things happened simply because of science and technology was really awesome to me. I absolutely loved that aspect of the world building and I’m totally here for more fantastical worlds without magic.
Second, I also loved how this world was set up in general and the history behind it. In Quadara (love that “quad” is in the kingdom name), there are four quadrants: Eonia, Archia, Ludia, and Toria. These quadrants are split by walls and for the most part people do not move from one quadrant to the other, thus causing a great deal of separation between the people of each quadrant and very different ways of life. In Eonia, people grow up without emotions and they are highly focused on science and how to make the best kind of humans. Archia is all about a natural way of life. They balk at technology and are focused on agriculture. Ludia is a stress free, care free quadrant. Their focus is on the arts and entertainment. Toria is all about curiosity and exploration, but honestly, I felt like Toria was the least defined quadrant. I felt like I had a clear understanding of the other three quadrants, but Toria left me a little confused. Still, I think Scholte did a great job of explaining why the kingdom has the four quadrants and the four queens that rule them.
Third, the twists in this novel killed me! The formatting of this novel was so well done. There are alternating chapters of Keralie in first person and then each of the queens in third person. Scholte did an amazing job of playing with time in this story and a good number of bait and switches. Every time I thought I had everything figured out she pulled the rug out from under me. It is rare that I am truly surprised by a novel and I was surprised multiple times with this one. I absolutely loved it and all the twists and turns made this book so hard to put down.
Lastly, I’m a sucker for romance and look for it in every book I read, whether it’s actually there or not. Thus, I was immediately intrigued by Keralie and Varin’s team up. I love a good hate to love romance, and though I wouldn’t even go as far as to say these two actually hated each other at the start of the novel, I found Varin’s constant irritation with Keralie as they decided to work together to save the queens highly amusing. These two were polar opposites in the best way and I shipped them immediately. There were also a number of other romantic plot lines throughout the book with various disagrees of happy and not happy at all endings that I thoroughly enjoyed reading.
All in all, I loved this novel. The plot was very well-written and the characters were incredibly interesting and complex, especially Keralie. I love a flawed character and Keralie certainly isn’t perfect, but at her core she’s a good person and I loved that about her. I highly recommend picking up Four Dead Queens when it hits the shelves, and I personally can’t wait to see what Scholte writes next.
Borrow or Buy: Buy it!