*I received a copy of this title from the publisher in exchange for an honest review*
Title: Four Dead Queens
Author: Astrid Scholte
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: February 26, 2019
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, endeavouring 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. Review: I’ll start off by saying that what I loved about this book the most was that it made me think. At certain points, I would think I knew where the book was headed and then it would go in the opposite direction. There were a lot of great twists and I loved getting to read from all four queens’ perspectives.
The world was interesting because it’s divided into four quadrants, which are all completely different from each other. There are four queens (one for each part of Quadara) who all rule from the palace, but each quadrant is kept separate and ruled by its own queen. It was great getting to see their secrets unravel and how fragile Queenly Law truly is.
Keralie was such a complicated character, because she believes she has this darkness inside her and that she can’t be redeemed. She makes a living as a thief and believes that’s who she is because that’s what she’s best at. Varin is an Eonist, and it is in their nature to feel nothing. He has no free will and knows how much time he has left in the world. It was also fun to see Keralie get him all flustered as well. His life is completely thrown off balance when a job goes wrong and he finds himself on the run with Keralie. I enjoyed that there was a hint of romance between them, but it didn’t overwhelm the plot.
I will point out two major flaws in this book that I did not agree with/made me cringe:
-queer characters being severely overlooked (it’s 2019 and I thought we were past this)
-population control to eliminate genetic imperfections & conditions (inclusivity, where you at?)
Simply put, this is a tale of revenge and redemption with lots of murder and conspiracy thrown in. The suspense was killing me while I was reading and while I wanted to speed ahead, I didn’t want to miss any clues. Four Dead Queens walks the fine line between scifi and fantasy, and a great read if you’re looking for a solid standalone.