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Four Dead Queens

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Four Queens. A divided nation. A ruthless pickpocket. A noble messenger. And the murders that unite them.

Keralie Corrington is a talented pickpocket. She steals for the black market in her quadrant. Her nation is divided into four regions, each strictly separated from the other. Four queens, one from each quadrant, rule as one.

When Keralie steals a particularly valuable item from a messenger, she discovers she's intercepted instructions to murder the queens. Hoping to find the culprit, Keralie teams up with Varin Bollt. But with Keralie and Varin each keeping secrets - and the lives of the queens hanging in the balance - everything is at stake. And no one can be trusted in a world full of ruthless thieves, black markets, a golden palace, daring heists, royal intrigue, noble messengers, forbidden love, four queens - each with a secret, and, of course, murder.

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.

432 pages, Paperback

First published February 26, 2019

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About the author

Astrid Scholte

4 books1,660 followers
Raised on a diet of Spielberg, Lucas and Disney, Astrid Scholte knew she wanted to be surrounded by all things fantastical from a young age and has spent the past fourteen years working in film, animation and VFX production. Career highlights include working on James Cameron’s Avatar, Steven Spielberg’s The Adventures of Tintin and is currently working on Marvel and Disney's Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur.

Her second novel, The Vanishing Deep, was released on the 3rd of March 2020 with Allen & Unwin and Penguin Random House. Up next is a fantasy/crime mashup, LEAGUE OF LIARS, out in 2022.

You can find Astrid posting about books, cats and Disney on Twitter and Instagram @AstridScholte

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 3,824 reviews
Profile Image for Emily May.
1,921 reviews290k followers
February 26, 2019
Four Dead Queens was being given away when I attended the Penguin talk at Comic-Con back in July 2018. Before this, I knew nothing about it, but I was immediately drawn in by the promise of a murder mystery in a fantasy setting. I'm a sucker for murder mysteries in general, and adding this to a fantasy world seemed like a recipe for excellence.

It didn't really work for me, though. Part of the problem might be that this book - a standalone, it seems - tries to do too many things and stretches itself way too thin in the process. It contains six different perspectives in total; all third person except for Keralee's perspective. It also contains weak fantasy-esque politics, an investigation into a murder, vague sci-fi concepts like genetic alterations and comm chips, and a romance that is thrown in for no reason I can see.

The fantasy part and its worldbuilding felt lacking. Many of the explanations given for the land and political system of Quadara didn't quite make sense to me. When a history is painted in, there's a vague mention of the one king and a war before the founding four queens built walls to split the land into quarters, each one ruling over their own section. I had a hard time picturing how this took place and why this was an adequate solution. Likewise, the rules of the "Queenly Law" seem ill-conceived. I don't understand why the queens are not allowed to visit the land they rule over.

At the time of the novel, the four ruling queens are Iris of Archia, Corra of Eonia, Stessa of Ludia and Marguerite of Toria. As the title reveals, the queens start being murdered one by one, so an investigator is called in to find the killer. Alongside this runs the story of street thief Keralee, who ingests some comm chips and sees visions of the queens' deaths. Accompanied by the beautiful but stoic Varin - ooh, what could happen? - she travels to the palace to reveal what she has seen.

Now, I know some people can read mysteries and just let events unfold without attempting to work it out in their head. I often wish I was this type of reader, but I can’t. Just say the word “mystery” and I’m instantly suspicious of everything. And this is not a good book to be suspicious of everything. The author drops a very heavy-handed piece of information about a third of the way through that made me instantly figure out who must be behind the murders.

And yet, despite this, there is still a touch of deus ex machina about it, given that

Again, I have no idea why the romance was in here. There's no build-up or chemistry. You can spot the love interest in chapter one by the way Keralie starts describing his beautiful skin, which is apparently “delicate, but hardy”... whatever that means. This is then followed by Keralee saying or thinking dirty jokes at the most inappropriate of times. Like her comment about Varin wanting to undress her while she is literally drowning.

I felt very frustrated with Keralee. I get that she’s supposed to be a bit of an antiheroine, but she just came across as petty and childishly mean. We sympathise with antiheroines because they are complicated and, deep down, we can see the messed up reasons behind their actions. That wasn’t the case with Keralee. When we first meet her, she slaps away an old man’s cane so he falls over. That's not flawed and interesting; that's Peeves the poltergeist.

It was all a little too obvious, and a little too messy. Regular mystery readers will figure it out early, and everyone else probably won't be far behind. I liked that two of the queens were secretly lovers, but it's a shame that these two queer characters were both killed off (their romance all happens off-page because one of them is already dead when we find out). And this is a big spoiler but I’m surprised this is being called a “feminist” fantasy as

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Profile Image for MischaS_.
785 reviews1,331 followers
March 22, 2019
I am very pleasantly surprised here! For a debut? It is pretty damn good!

And also the fabulous buddy-read with Mary helped me to enjoy this book even more!

description

- This was me while reading all the time! Since we were reading only 5 or 6 chapters per day (okay except for the last but one when we read 12 but WE NEEDED ANSWERS!)

- Mary had to suffer through numerous of my conspiracy theories and since I had so much time to think about those theories. Some of them were crazily correct! I have to say; my theory game was on point with this one!

- When I first found out about this book, it really reminded me about Three Dark Crowns. With the title, with the cover (I know it's blue, now but my screen colour is always so much down that it seemed black). And I even thought that this was the last book in that series.
And now I just hope that people won't mistake it for TDC because this is worth reading!

- You get action from the first page! Somethings happening all the time and you're trying to connect all those dots, and then you find out that you completely overlooked something. (Or you did not think that it was important!)

- I like Kera! She's snarky, rude and resourceful! She's fun, and I really liked her, it was a long time since I liked the main female character that much!

- This book made me laugh at the most inappropriate moments!

"To be safe, she emptied half the bottle."

“So no to breaking into the palace, but yes to stealing more clothes?”

- Varin is cute and everything... but I'm not here for the cute!

“Go, you stupid Eonist!”

- Talking about Eonists, I could not imagine living in Eonia! That Quadrant freaked me out!

- And Mackiel? That's what I'm here for! I loved his character! Loved to watch his plans!

- The timeline of the story was a killer!

- Romance:

- And obviously the one thing I did not question (but messed every my theory) came to bite me!

- This book made me slightly paranoid!

- And huge thanks to the author that she made this a stand-alone! Because most would try to make a trilogy out of this, but thankfully this was not the case. Instead, we got actioned packed one book which is totally worth it!


But, you know me, I have to point out some things that I did not like. Four quadrants and the kingdom (or should I say queendom?) is called Quadara? A bit originality, please! --> This would be minus 0,5 ⭐.
Profile Image for jessica.
2,477 reviews29.7k followers
March 22, 2019
some of the best characters are those who blend the line between right and wrong, those whose ambiguous actions lead to even more conflicting intentions, and i am loving how these morally grey characters are finally getting the attention they deserve. keralie is a shining example of this.

i love her character development in this story. its so strong, makes sense, and is done in a very satisfying way. her storyline alternates with glimpses into the lives of each of the queens and i thought this was very effective storytelling. i dont want to give too much away, but the way that all of the information is presented is very clever. there are twists and turns and the way the reader is subtlety misdirected is amazing! i could have sworn i knew what some of the big reveals would be but i got everything wrong. this kept me guessing and thats what made this book so fun for me.

this is such an impressive debut novel and i am most definitely a fan. i cant wait to see what astrid scholte comes up with next!

4 stars
Profile Image for Emily (Books with Emily Fox).
525 reviews56.6k followers
Want to read
February 13, 2019
Thank you Netgalley for the sneak peak - the first five chapters of this book.

I wasn't sure how I would feel about this book but I couldn't put it down. The world building and characters were interesting and the intrigue is now killing me... I need to know how the rest goes!

Will pick up the book when it comes out at the end of the month!
Profile Image for Maryam Rz..
220 reviews2,547 followers
April 15, 2019
4.25 STARS! such an impressive and gripping book for a debut. A new author I'm looking forward to read more from :)

“Dream bigger,” he’d said. “Want more. Don’t ask. Take it.”

I won't deny that I was anticipating reading this, but I was not expecting it to be so spectacular! My head was spinning trying to find that assassin. WOW. A fun buddy read with the girl with crazy theories, aka Mischa :)

There's been a huge criticism pointed at this book which is—I'm sorry but it really is—bullshit. I have reasons for that. Go to Storytelling selection and read the on criticisms about eugenics part!

“Sometimes we fail because we’re not meant to succeed.”
“Sometimes failure is the beginning of success.”

This was different because I think it tried something new! Something that not everyone can pull off and also might not work for every reader either. Four Dead Queens is a murder mystery thrown in a sci-fi/fantasy world, with greed, politics, intrigue, criminals, and heists, yes, but also love, caring, friendship, and family. A great Young Adult debut; I enjoyed that fresh mix!

The only reason this wasn't a 5-star read was because some small things felt a little convenient to me and that I usually like my science-fiction with a little more “science” (it's just me; the sci-fi elements and ideas of Four Dead Queens were one of a kind, but I'm more of a fan of something like One Word Kill, which is head-spinningly mind-blowing!)

“Having something, even if in the past, is better than nothing at all.”
“And you believe memories are enough to sustain us?” he asked. “Through the darkness?”

The playlist for this book was epic and fitting (with the help of Mischa!) and I suggest listening to the songs while reading. You can find it at the end of the review :)


Storyline

Small breath in, small breath out.
There’s a way in, and always a way out.


In a land where a divided yet united, beautiful if complicated nation named Quadara is ruled by four queens from the four different quadrants Archia, Toria, Ludia, and Eonia ... the people live, some hiding and living in peace behind the walls separating them, and some eager and hungry for what lies beyond, out of their reach.

“May the queens forever rule the day. Together, yet apart.”

But the law and the queens are all that keeps this nation which has survived the most terrible war together; the Queenly Law the most sacred of them all. If they shatter Queenly Law, they could shatter Quadara’s stability. If they kill the queens, the nation will fall apart.
But an assassin is on the loose. How could they stop a shadow without a name?

“I will call an inspector immediately,” Corra said. “We will uncover the truth.”

And outside the palace walls, Keralie, the talented thief, does what she does best—darting between the crowd with searching hands, guided by her best friend and her boss Mackiel, ready to choose her next target.

But she might just end up with a different target and information on an assassination attempt ... an attempt on Quadara's very foundation.

“I’m beginning to realize that look on your face means nothing good will follow.”
I patted his shoulder. “You’re a quick learner.”

In a tale where bonds are tested and broken, where everyone has a mask and something to hide, where they're all liars with false smiles and an act they will not drop, you might find the killer at your throat if you look away too long.

A lie.
Another lie.
The biggest lie of all.


The final act.
The final reveal.
The cards are on the table...
But nothing is as it seems.

On criticisms about the ending: it might not have ended how I'd have hoped, yet I was in no way displeased with it :)


Storytelling

I love you more than my boat loves a twelve-knot wind and a warm sea.

I have to say I was pleasantly surprised! The writing in general was sometimes good and sometimes magnificent—definitely more than I'd hoped for :)

In some part the description was so unique, it was like it wrapped itself around me, sucking me in and stealing my breath away; and the use of phrases were sometimes so smart, the author discreetly referencing a previous phrase with an exquisite twist to the sentences...

But more important than that is the mystery (since it's a murder mystery, you know). And I can say Ms. Scholte managed it nicely, making you doubt and question everything you assume, twisting the story around your head until the world starts spinning! 😂

A figure darted through the crowd without touching anyone, like a fish in a stream, moving between invisible currents, or a shadow between gas lamps, light never touching them.

Another very strong point: Astrid Scholte knows her thieving lessons well.
Now, either she has a history with the popular crime, or she's done her research and is a natural (who'd do great if she tries her hand at the profession, I'm telling you! 😂); the former we're going to assume is not true and look the other way (*whistles giddily while giving you a conspiratorial look*), so let's go with the latter...
But in all seriousness, it was one of the best thief-writings I've read yet!

Stores didn’t have thoughts and feelings, backgrounds and motives. Stores only had locks. And locks were easy to pick.

The conversations and reactions (specially when Varin was involved :] ) were so hilarious!! I was howling with laughter at some points (even thinking about it has me losing it 😂)

“I want to propose something—”
“You can propose to me all you like. I’ll never say yes.” I flashed him a grin.

And last but not least, the politics were masterfully written; and since it's one of my fave topics to see applied to a fantasy world, I was in awe! (more on that in Worldbuilding section)

“I like how art captures not only the exterior, but also the feeling and mood of the artist. Like a memory.”

The perfect attention to art put aside (which I loved), I'll say that Ms. Scholte impressed me, and having read about her now, I see how her book reflected her own character. I'm looking forward to more books :)

On criticisms about eugenics: Yes, what they were doing was despicable—but the author was in no way supporting that!



And if you're saying gene therapy is completely wrong, then I really don't know what to tell you. Because as someone who is bearing the worst genes of the family with multiple incurable diseases wrecking my body, I would personally very much love it if I could run as I love or play basketball without collapsing immediately from my inability to breathe! If you love to twist that in a different way then I don't practically care.


Characterization

Keralie: a talented thief, a cunning liar, a selfish ruthless girl ... she is a thousand things and more. But she is also strong, resilient, unwavering, snarky and hilarious. I loved her as the main character! And her development was remarkable :)

“What did you want to be when you were younger?” he asked, looking at his hands.
“A thief.”
He let out a breath through his teeth. “Why do you always lie?”
“I’m not lying.” And I wasn’t. “I’ve tried to be other things. I failed.” Spectacularly.

Varin: he might be innocent and loyal and adorable like a puppy (and my boy who I just wanna protect) but he's also sneaky, smart, strong and wise. I mean even thinking about him and his life hurts ... how much unwavering strength he must've had to bear all that and still stand? That's the type of beauty I admire.

“I am, and only will ever be, a messenger.”

Mackiel: a boy who takes your weaknesses and twists them for his gain with an admirably scheming mind, I loved everything about his addition to the story. Sure, I wanted to punch him on occasion (specially at the end) but that removes nothing of the intriguing character he was!

My business,” he said, “is anything and everything lucrative. You know our world, darlin’. You know only the most cunning survive. And in these times, we have to be more ruthless than ever.”

Iris, Queen of Archia, was a whirlwind of a woman and someone I really like with her hard working ways; Corra, Queen of Eonia, was probably my favourite of the four queens with her battles.

Stessa, Queen of Ludia, was a sweet young gem that promised to be a strong woman who treasured her people; and Marguerite, Queen of Toria, a curious and admirable ruler whose kind heart and seeking of the knowledge of distant lands captured me :)

Let love guide your heart, and everything else will fall into place.

Arabella, another obsession of mine whose whole characterization had me bowing to the author! ; and Inspector Gavin, what an interesting man that I won't talk a lot about *slow grin* but damn is he smart!


Relationships

“Loving someone means risking your heart being broken,” Corra said. “But those moments you are together triumph over any hardship.”

The friendships and enmities, the bonds of the sister queens, the complicated relationship between Kera and her best friend and her family were all things I found fully developed, real, and three-dimensional. And trust me—it's hard to do that in a standalone with this big a plot, but somehow the author did it!

I winked at him.
He ignored me, or perhaps he thought I had a facial twitch.


On criticisms about the romance: yes, while the romance might not have been necessary, it did not feel out of place to me, and nor was it sudden and without beautifully written development for both characters! So I'd have to respectfully disagree with the people saying they lacked chemistry.

See, it wasn't all about the “romance” when it came to these two. What I appreciated was that they were each fighting their own battles with their own inner demons (sometimes literary) and it was about each helping the other become a better individual rather than a better partner and that's what made them fall for eachother (which is usually the case with romance, the trope being “two as one” and “whole together” and all that stupidity implying we're less than whole without a romantic partner!)
Scholte remembered to focus on individuality and friendship and family more than the romance. Thank you for that!


Worldbuilding

Quadara’s divided nation was an ecosystem, each quadrant playing its part. Archia provided crops and natural resources; Eonia developed medicine and technology; Ludia provided art, fashion and entertainment; and Toria arranged imports and exports between the quadrants. And Queenly Law upheld the system.

Starting this part with that is the best choice, I think; because oh was I impressed with this world building! I'll tell you why, shall we? (don't worry, no important spoilers. These are things introduced before the book starts, I'm just analysing them)

Archia:
Trust only in what can be wielded by hand and heart.
The hardworking of the four quadrants, Archians have a no-nonsense attitude that I appreciate and look up to. They are strong-willed and humble, lovers of nature and the old ways. They see technology as something destructive and rarely would they view it as helpful.
(While that's not completely a true or good view point, here they do have a point as all the other quadrants became barren and only theirs was where plants grew and flowers bloomed.)
Astrid Scholte showed the importance of natural resources well with how the other quadrants' reacted to Archia. The politics was simply on point!

Eonia:
A turbulent mind produces turbulent times. A peaceful mind heralds peace.
This was the one that fascinated me the most. They live in the coldest and most barren part of the nation: the north. First, that is enough to say that northerners with their harsh environments and their ways of life have always been a fave of mine in real life or fantasy, but Scholte's northerners do not, in fact, pillage or plunder. They are the most disciplined of the quadrants!

“There’s no crime in Eonia, no uprisings, no hate. Everyone has their role in society, and we’re paid well enough. Eonia has eradicated envy, jealousy, violence, cruelty.”

To overcome the stunning harshness and the lacking of their home, they focused on technology and an in-control mind. They lacked natural resources, and instead of stealing, they pursued perfection in every other sense: their physique, their control, their equipment.

All that, however, lead to a society with people disconnected from emotions (the main cause of errors), floating on the surface of life, never connecting to anything or anyone. No dreams, no appreciation for beauty and art, no understanding of sympathy and no caring. No family. No friendships. No love.

While their methods of population control (a topic I've read a lot about), their way of raising their young, and their control of their occupations is undoubtedly horrifying, it's also indefinitely ingenious! The philosophy, psychology, and sociology the author undertook with this complicated society was mesmerising, and I found the Eonist characters were usually the ones I felt for the most...

Toria:
Know everything, and you shall know all.
What I valued the most about the people of this quadrant was their curiosity and desire for learning and experiencing new thing. Torians look to the horizon, they are seekers and voyagers ... but they can also be greedy and demanding. And that can lead to selfishness and dark places.

Ludia:
Life is for the revelers with open eyes and open hearts.
Probably the opposite of Eonists, they embrace feelings with all their faults and revel in the beauty of it. A society of artists and passionate people, I love these precious creatures :)

Ludists knew the world was often cruel, that sadness often outweighed happiness and darkness could be a mere step away. But instead of wallowing in this knowledge, Ludists embraced all that was beautiful, light and pleasurable in the world.

However, Ludists are perhaps more prone to naivety than the other quadrants. So their young (and sometimes adults) might be the most unprepared to face the harshness of life. But when they do, if they remain strong and do not let it break them, they can become inspiring wise people who see the beauty even in the ugliest places!


On criticisms about the Queenly Law: as some reviewers have pointed out, some of these fifteen rules felt senseless. But that was kind of the point!


*Realizes she's been talking too much, grins widely and sheepishly* whatever, the summary is that “read, and enjoy, and don't forget to pay attention to the on criticisms parts before pointing fingers (something we love doing)”


Companions

Book playlist:
[ Spotify LINK to book playlist ]
• “Empires” by Ruelle (main song, emotional moments, epic reveals, deaths)
• “Bad Behaviour” by Iolite (any scene in general, finish first chapter and last chapter both with this)
• “Trouble” by CRMNL (bad-ass scenes, start book with this song)
• “Metamorphosis” by Peter Gundry [Instrumental] (mysterious scenes, sneaking around the palace)
• “Carmina Burana: O Fortuna” by Carl Orff (epic/chaotic reveals, for most of Keralie's fourth part chapters)
• “Secrets and Lies” by Ruelle (sneaky moments)
Profile Image for NickReads.
461 reviews1,208 followers
Want to read
May 30, 2019
I think I will go broke this year
Profile Image for MischaS_.
785 reviews1,331 followers
February 10, 2019
****I received an advance review copy (sneak peek in this case) for free in exchange for an honest review, and I am leaving this honest review voluntarily.

I completely missed that this is only a sneak peek! I reached a WTF moment and wanted to know what next and there is nothing! I really, really need the rest of this book.

I wanted to read this book since when I found about this book in September. However, I already voiced my concerns that this book with its title and maybe even cover may confuse some people into believing that it's an instalment in the Three Dark Crowns series by Kendare Blake. It was my first reaction when I saw it before noticing a different author name. And I think it would be a shame if people missed this because of the confusion.

So, what can I say after reading this 66 pages long sneak peek? I'm excited about this book. We get the action right away! Something is happening from page one; we are already in action and, so far it does not feel like an information dump. I'll admit that I have a hard time remembering which Queen is a Queen over which quadrant and what they do there. But we are only five chapters in, so, nothing terrible.

I like how the Queens are different, but thankfully it does not seem like they will try to kill each other. And I'm really excited about Queen Stessa; she seems like a headstrong young lady.

I'm looking forward to seeing where Keralie's story is going. However, I can already say that I will be obsessed with Mackiel. He already seems like my kind of character.
Though I have to wonder about the whole "thief" part of the story, it seems to be getting a tad bit overused.

The only thing that's getting a bit on my nerves is the whole "Four quadrants of the Quadara." A bit more originality hear it would go a long way, at least for me.


Anyway, all I want to say that I feel more confident about this book than I did before reading this sneak peek. And now, can I get the whole book, pretty please? 😇
Profile Image for Anissa.
67 reviews891 followers
October 11, 2018
Wow. Read this in pretty much one sitting - I just had to know what would happen next. Quadara is such a rich world and the mystery kept me on the edge of my seat (along with the wonderful characters)!
Profile Image for B .
99 reviews11.9k followers
August 7, 2019
*3.5

The world building in this book was phenomenal! From the intricate world, the politics, and the seedy underbelly - it was all really fleshed out. And though the mystery kept me interested throughout the book, i feel like the plot twists are where it fell flat for me. I debated between and 4 and a 3.5 for a while, but seeing how this was a mystery at its core and I guessed almost every plot twist before it happened I felt like I had to give it a 3.5.

That’s not to say it wasn’t enjoyable! Again, I really loved the world and I felt like the characters all had very distinct voices and motives. I enjoy the way this ended and overall felt very satisfied!
Profile Image for MischaS_.
785 reviews1,331 followers
Want to read
September 20, 2018
Very curious about this one! Cannot wait for it. However, at first glance, I thought it was a book by Kendare Blake from the Three Dark Crowns series. Because of the cover and the title. Hopefully, that will be the only resemblance. But I will surely read this one.
Profile Image for Astrid Scholte.
Author 4 books1,660 followers
November 6, 2019
Hey everyone!

It's been a while since I updated here, but I had to let you know of the awesome new cover for the US paperback of Four Dead Queens!

description

This edition includes an exclusive short story from Queen Iris's POV when she first meets Queen Corra. It also includes some artwork by me. I wrote this short story as a thank you to everyone who has asked for more of the queens and the world of Quadara. I hope you enjoy it!

Pre-order
It's available for pre-order at your favorite bookstore and will be released on the 11th of Feb 2020!


Want to be the first to hear about release dates, snippets, swag and ARCS? Then sign up for my newsletter here!

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A divided nation. Four Queens. A ruthless pickpocket. A noble messenger. And the murders that unite them.

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.
758 reviews2,358 followers
August 13, 2019
Four Dead Queens definitely has an interesting storyline, but sadly, the first half of this book (253 pages) were so mediocre. Shit got really good after that and then I was definitely interested!

Tbh, I’m disappointed and a little shook by what happened. The ending seemed rushed

Full review to come. Disappointed in the ending and book overall.

3.5 stars.

——————
this sounds so fabulous!! a murder mystery mixed w fantasy, ahhhhh!! I will not be disappointed.

also they can only have queens and the throne is passed down to female heirs, only! sounds hella feminist and I love it
Profile Image for Krystal.
1,295 reviews339 followers
June 1, 2020
Yeahhhh NO.

I just was not feeling this at all.

For a book that promises four deaths, it's actually really slow and dull and repetitive and so, so shallow.

I am disappointed.

Summary: A plot involving the assassination of all four queens can only be unravelled by a humble thief with a heart of gold and her trusty love interest from the other side of the tracks.

My Issues:
-Characters are dull
-Kind of predictable
-Super, super preachy
-Shallow
-Cheesier than a block of cheddar
-All the best bits didn't even rate

Characters
Keralie is our skilled thief, and so damn proud of it. Don't ask her if she wants to be better. Because she doesn't. Or does she? But honestly no. Because she's a really good thief. But maybe she wants to be more? But no, because she doesn't. Even though she's actually a decent person and doesn't want the queens dead. She's still a criminal. She loves being a criminal. Why would she want to be anything else? She definitely doesn't. Except that maybe she does? THIS GOES ON FOR THE ENTIRE BOOK AND IT WAS SO PAINFUL.

Varin is our straight-edged soldier type who doesn't know how to feel because in his quadrant they train feelings out of you. I mean clearly his training wasn't great because he's leaking feelings all over the place and Keralie is there to CONSTANTLY remind him that feelings are great and, by the way, Varin, have I ever told you how important it is to feel things? Even the bad things? Because feelings are super important. THANKS KERALIE WE GOT IT THE FIRST THOUSAND TIMES YOU SAID IT. How this guy manages to put up with her through the entire book is a mystery to me.

Mackiel, the 'villain' of the piece, is pretty mediocre as far as bad guys go. He never really gets one over on Keralie - she's so smart and skilled she's constantly outfoxing him. Don't get me wrong, though - he's definitely still a douchebag. Just ... boring.

No other characters are really worth mentioning, except I will say that I wish Iris had stuck around a little longer because she seemed to be like the only decent character in this whole mess.

Predictable
Firstly, the queens don't die too quickly but with it in the damn TITLE you know it's coming so it's pretty easy to predict four murders. Keralie and Varin had me cringing from the time they met, and it was pretty easy to envision how their entire relationship would play out. The mystery of who is behind the assassination plot was a little intriguing but there were not enough clues or even drama to make it particularly enticing, and even still it got a little predictable. I just felt next to nothing reading this, except bored and embarrassed.

Preachy
Keralie is a fkn NIGHTMARE. She does not stop talking about the importance of feelings, and being true to yourself, and how the world needs to just get along. Surely there is something more than all these rules of segregation? *eyeroll* This is not new territory and I'm just gonna go ahead and say it: Divergent did it a lot better.

Shallow and Cheesy
I think the takeaway message from this book is that you have to appreciate all of your feelings because they are all important. Also be true to yourself. YOU decide who you want to be, not friends, family or the government. Also love is the most important feeling of all aaaaand excuse me while my lunch revisits. Could this get any cheesier? I have encountered these themes and messages before and, yes, sure, they are all important, but the way it was delivered here was just so lame. It felt like there was a lot more that could have been talked about and instead it wasted all its time on feelings and tropes that have already been done a thousand times. Take out the murder and this is more of a middle-grade kinda story.

RIP Best Bits
Firstly, these queens have So. Many. Secrets. but they're totally brushed over? I want all the scandals and intrigue! I want drama! I want action! I want screaming and crying and lying and backstabbing and ... *sigh* These poor queens were so hard done by. I mean, isn't it enough that they all die in the title?
Second, the tech quadrant is focused on perfection but it's not being called out? Oh but who cares right because Varin is from there so he's totally dreamy. *eyeroll* I mean it just seemed like half the time spent preaching about feelings could have gone towards the debate over what exactly constitutes perfection and how our flaws are what make us unique. Also science vs messing with nature. Dr Ian Malcolm would have some interesting thoughts for these guys I bet.
Third, the dramatic finale was pretty underwhelming. Keralie just gets out of everything so easy and it was all over so fast. Yawn.
And just to top it all off, the world building was pretty terrible in general. The history is whack, the separation is whack, the rules are whack ... so disappointing. There could have been so much more done with this, but it's just accepted? It's like she was trying to keep it short and unattached but it means the story just doesn't have enough depth.

The queens were the true heroes of this book and they all got bloody murdered didn't they. So we're stuck with stupid preaching Keralie and her perfect robot boyfriend instead. THIS WAS NOT A FUN TIME.

On the plus side, it seems to be a standalone.
Profile Image for julianna ➹.
207 reviews263 followers
April 2, 2019
I've got to say— for the first 25% of this book, I was really just not feeling it. Everything felt dull to me, it read like one of those classic fantasies, and something just didn't *click* for me the way that I wanted it to. I found Keralie frustrating, the plot unordinary, and the worldbuilding mostly mediocre. I was finding problems with the writing and it was just hard for me to get into.

But damn, y'all, the last 50% of the book deserves ten stars on its own. I mean, the plot took such a turn and it finally really, truly felt like the murder mystery I was told it was going to be. Maybe I'm just still living on the adrenaline of the ending. But like, that ending was really good.

The queens were the power. No one else.

Power was a game, and over the years, Iris had perfected it.


Four Dead Queens follows Keralie, a thief (dipper) who's part of a larger black market network. Keralie steals things from people and gives them to Mackiel, her childhood friend and superior, and Mackiel sells them. In turn, Keralie gets some of the profit. However, Keralie sees Mackiel as more than a superior, but Mackiel... doesn't. He's been manipulating her for his own gain.

When Keralie's assigned to steal a comm disk from a messenger, the operation becomes messed up and Keralie ends up watching the comm disks, seeing all of the deaths of the four queens. However, Varin, as a messenger, needs to retrieve those comm disks— otherwise, his death date will be moved up.

This all takes place in Quadara, a nation with four different sections: Eonia, Toria, Ludia, and Archia. Each plays a different role in the nation. Eonia manages medicine and produces technology, Toria manages imports and exports throughout the nation as well as overall discovery, Ludia is the center of arts and fashion, and Archia is the source of crops and fertile land.

All of these quadrants are very separate, and there's hardly any transferring of citizens from one quadrant to another.

In the exposition of the story, I was honestly just not that impressed; it just seemed like so many other stories that I had read, and the premise of the four quadrants reminded me deeply of Divergent. I wasn't that entertained or as invested in the story as I wished that I was?

But guys... when we hit around 30-40%, it really started kicking in, the plot started moving, everyone was dying and I was here for it. But what I really want to talk about out of all of this is that in the end?? everything started clicking together. What previously seemed like a classic fantasy turned out to be so, so much more and the reveal of the killer?? I was shocked.

I did think that the prose could have been a little bit better, and Keralie kind of frustrated me in the beginning, and Keralie's whole flirting with Varin was too sudden when she was threatening him two minutes ago, but /that ending/.

I probably would have rated this five stars, but there were also some very questionable parts in this novel that I was kind of... iffy about.

For example, on page 131 (of the physical arc) it says things like "Love was the most important emotion of all" & non-romantic love exists, but in this context, it really seems like it was talking specifically about romantic love??? I'm not an aromantic person, so I really can't speak for how someone aromantic might interpret this, but it just seemed kind of concerning to me.

Also, two of the queens were sapphic, who died (along with the other queens) and there was another f/f relationship, but they were very minor side characters and mentioned possibly two times in the entirety of the book. So. That's just a little... :///

Trigger and content warnings for death, murder, poisoning, throat cutting, severe burning, drowning, death by fire, abusive relationship, and imprisonment.

All quotes were taken from a galley & are subject to change.
Profile Image for Chiara.
868 reviews220 followers
March 22, 2019
A copy of this novel was provided by Allen and Unwin for review.

I don’t actually know where to begin writing this review. I can’t believe I’m still having to write a review like this in 2019. I will start off with this statement:

Authors, publishing: STOP BURYING YOUR GAYS.

I do not care if it’s ignorance or naivete or whatever the fuck reason there is that you have buried the gays in your book – you need to stop. Someone needs to start catching this and stopping this. We can’t keep having books where the only queer characters are killed. What possesses an author, and then agent and editor and everyone involved in the publishing of a book, to think that this is okay? Because it’s not. It is NOT okay to kill off the only queer characters in your book.

I had been pretty excited for Four Dead Queens. Australia has a few well known authors, but most of them got that way over time, so to see a debut author on the worldwide stage was exciting. And besides that, Four Dead Queens was combining my two favourite genres: fantasy and mystery/thriller. So I requested a copy as soon as I found out that Allen and Unwin were publishing and I was lucky enough that they sent me a copy.

And then I started the book. And it was good – entertaining and murdery, which was exactly what I wanted. And then I realised that the very first queen to die was a queer queen. And then I realised the third queen to die was the first dead queen’s lover. I also realised there were no other prominent queer characters in the novel at all - in fact the only other queer character had one line in the entire novel. One line does not a queer character make.

When I realised all of this, I was just so disappointed. That once again I was reading a book where the only queer characters are killed. Killed. I just cannot wrap my head around why anyone still thinks this is okay. Why anyone is still okaying the death of queer characters in a novel where they are the only queer characters. The message this sends is that queer people will die. That queer people will die while the non-queer people will thrive. That queer people are expendable because in the end there is a non-queer person who will replace them. These are the kinds of messages that killing off your only queer characters sends. Queer people read these books and get these messages and why doesn’t anyone care? Why doesn’t anyone go: oh, hey, you’ve killed off your only queer characters – this sends really harmful messages to queer people and we need to rectify this. Why does no one care that it hurts people?

I am just so goddamned tired of writing reviews about why it’s not okay to kill off your queer characters. I am so tired of trying to get the message across that it hurts and effects real, living people when you fuck them over in a fictional world. I am tired that it is 2019 and I am still talking about why this shouldn’t be happening. Authors, do better. Publishing, do better.

© 2019, Chiara @ Books for a Delicate Eternity. All rights reserved.

trigger warning: use of ableist language, ableism, multiple graphic murders (including drowning and fire), parent in coma, attempted murder, reference to inhumane experiments, protagonist with claustrophobia, character with degenerative eye condition, fire
Profile Image for ✨ Helena ✨.
364 reviews946 followers
September 18, 2020
So, the description of this being DIVERGENT meets THREE DARK CROWNS plus a MURDER MYSTERY ... was pretty accurate! 😁 I love that this had genuine twists and turns that I didn’t expect, which mysteries seldom do for me (the trials of being a Nancy Drew aficionado 😌). I’d recommend it, especially since I didn’t really see the problems that others mentioned in their reviews, which caused me to nearly not want to pick this up in the first place. I think you should give it a chance. 🥰 Also yay for it being a stand-alone!
Profile Image for Grace A..
360 reviews38 followers
October 6, 2022
I stayed up till 1:00 am to finish this one; I couldn’t put it down. The whodunnit of mystery novels gets me all wound up that I tend to avoid them. I picked this up not knowing it had a bit of mystery.
Overall, I really enjoyed the read. The twist towards the end got me on my toes, I had to see it to the end. It was wholly engrossing. I had a great time. 4.5 stars.
Profile Image for Cesar.
348 reviews237 followers
March 8, 2019
2.5 stars.

Four Dead Queens is a decent fantasy debut. With a premise of four queens being killed and two people caught in the midst of a conspiracy, it sounds very promising.

But in the end, I wasn't impressed. It started out good but the more I read, the more flaws I started to discover. And with those flaws, my enjoyment went down. I will say that Four Dead Queen isn't a bad novel. It has potential, but that potential is, unfortunately, squandered down by issues.

Four Dead Queens is a sci-fi/fantasy standalone where there are four quadrants and a queen rules each quadrant. Keralie is a thief living in one of the quadrants when she is tasked to steal information. When she steals said information, she discovers that the four queens have been assassinated and Keralie and Varin, the person she stole the information from, are caught in the middle of a conspiracy. They have to discover why the queens were killed and if they can save the quadrants from falling into chaos.

My experience with Four Dead Queens started off good. I was intrigued by how the world worked and how each inhabitant lived their lives. But when I got to the middle, the flaws started to show up and the ending didn't help as much. In fact, I think the ending had made me give the book 2.5 stars.

The world, while interesting, felt bland and didn't make sense when you look deep into it. There's one quadrant that is basically fantasy land where there is no electricity and everything is handmade and grown. The other quadrants do have electricity and are more advanced, but that queen of that quadrant doesn't want any help from the other quadrants because it'll taint her land which is the stupidest thing I have ever heard. As for the other quadrants, there wasn't much explanation about them and considering the story takes place in only two quadrants, the world felt bland.

There is a romance and it was completely unnecessary. The story takes place in the matter of a few days and I fail to comprehend how someone can develop feelings for someone else in the span of a few days. And the love interest, Varin, is just as bland as the world. He belongs in the quadrant that values technology and emotions are put on the back burner and surprise, he's boring.

There's also the issue of the time skips in the story. As mentioned before, the story takes place in the span of a few days. But the transitions from day to day or from hour to hour was rushed I had to go back and re-read some passages.

Keralie, as a character, was fine. I didn't love her. But I didn't hate her. She's fine. She's decent. Moving on.

I wouldn't say that I disliked Four Dead Queens. The 2 stars are mainly from the enjoyment I felt when reading the first part.

Verdict

Four Dead Queens isn't a bad book. It's a book that could've been good had there been more world development, a romance that was more believable, and the time skips were more understandable.

Thanks for reading my review!

-Cesar
Profile Image for Ishika .
198 reviews507 followers
October 31, 2021
Four Dead Queens is a book about four dead queens (obviously).In this book we follow Keralie Corrington-a 17 year old who ran away from her home after a tragic accident as she couldn't face her mother for what had happened.Keralie might seem to be harmless but in reality she's very much skilled in lying and stealing.Fast forward few tragedies, she has no other choice but to run away with Varin-someone she has stole something from in the past.

“Small breath in, small breath out. There's a way in, and always a way out”

The world building was amazing.Though it kind of reminded me of Divergent because of the factions and Quadrants similarity.And there were 6 pov's which I loved reading.A glimpse into the lives of the queens?I loved them.The plot twist?I wasn't expecting it at all.Like who could guess ____(no spoilers) was the murderer.Not me that I'm sure.And some of the scenes in which Mackiel was present were hilarious (atleast for me).

“Sometimes failure is the beginning of success"

I don't know why but I didn't like the relationship between Keralie and Varin.Like they were good companions but just couldn't grasp the romance in it.It felt like the romance was there just for the sake of having the main lead fall in love with someone.I don't know if you all got it.Also I felt like that the ending was rushed.I was expecting atleast one conversation between Keralie and his father.But how could I get whatever I want *wiping tears*.
Profile Image for Marilena ⚓.
582 reviews79 followers
September 12, 2019
Δεν είχα προσδοκίες ξεκινώντας το,δεν ήξερα τίποτα για αυτό,απλά έτυχε να περιλαμβάνεται στο συνδρομητικό κουτί που αγόρασα!
Αλλά έτσι κι αλλιώς κάποια στιγμή με το υπέροχο εξώφυλλο που έχει, σίγουρα θα μου τραβούσε την προσοχή, πόσο μάλλον όταν γράφει ότι είναι στο είδος του φανταστικού,όπου είναι το είδος που αγαπώ και προτιμώ να διαβάζω!
Προσωπικά δεν θεωρώ ότι ήταν βιβλίο τόσο φαντασίας αλλά μυστηρίου!
Σε όλο το βιβλίο προσπαθούμε να δούμε ποιος/α σκότωσε τις βασίλισσες,ούτε μάχες,ούτε δράση!

Παρόλα αυτά δεν ήταν κακό βιβλίο,μου άρεσε και η γραφή της και η πλοκή, απλά μέσα σε 400σελίδες δεν προλαβαίνω να γνωρίσω καλά τους ήρωες ούτε να μπω στην ιστορία όσο ήθελα!
Προσωπικά δεν μίσησα, ούτε αγάπησα τους χαρακτήρες του βιβλίου,που αυτό για εμένα είναι σπάνιο να μην συνδεθώ καθόλου μαζί τους,μου ήταν αδιάφοροι!

Υ.ΓΘα ήθελα περισσότερες σελίδες ή καλύτερα να υπήρχε συνέχεια!




Profile Image for Sylvie .
600 reviews791 followers
March 17, 2020
3.75 stars

This book was really really interesting. I loved the idea of it, but I wasn't in love with every moment of it. Sometimes it grabbed my attention and I couldn't stop myself from stopping and the other times I find it predictable. In my opinion, this book could've been better executed, but I still liked it very much. And I may change the star from 3 to 4, but I'm still not sure.
Profile Image for booknator.
117 reviews144 followers
May 27, 2020
1,5/5 ⭐️ »Dinge, die man nie gesehen und nie erfahren hatte, konnten einem nicht fehlen.«
Kennt ihr das, wenn sich ein Buch unglaublich gut anhört, ihr voller Elan damit startet und ihr dann ganz langsam merkt, dass ihr es einfach nicht gut findet? So ging es mir mit „Four Dead Queens“. Vorweg kann ich sagen, dass ich diesem Buch nur 1,5/5 geben kann. Warum?
Die Weichen für ein wirklich großartiges Fantasybuch waren gestellt. Das Worldbuilding mit den vier Quadranten, ihren Aufgabe und den Eigenschaften der Menschen fand ich toll. Ganz unterschiedlich und dennoch Teil eines großen Systems. Die Kapitellänge war ebenfalls super, damit konnte man schnell durchs Buch fliegen und die „Spannung“ wurde hochgehalten. Ebenfalls gut gefallen hat mir, dass man als Leser von Anfang an wusste, dass die Königinnen sterben werden und man dann doch irgendwie traurig war, als es dazu kam. Auch bestimmte Teile des Endes haben mir gut gefallen, um nicht zu viel zu verraten.
Das, leider leider, war aber auch schon alles. Es fing bereits am Anfang an. So toll ich das Worldbuilding auch fand, so schlecht fand ich die Umsetzung sie dem Leser zu offenbaren. Show don’t tell, wird hier auch dem unerfahrensten Schreiberling von seiner schlechtesten Seite klar vor Augen geführt. Es war einfach eine Fülle an Informationen, die da ganz uncharmant geliefert wurde. Das hätte deutliche schöner sein können.
Dann der Schreck des Buches schlechthin: Die Protagonistin. Ich konnte sie einfach nicht leiden. Überhaupt nicht. Ihre Handlung war sehr schwer nachzuvollziehen, vollkommen fernab von Situationstreue und Glaubwürdigkeit. Mit jeder Bewegung und jedem Wort wurde sie mir unsympathischer, wodurch die gesamte Geschichte extremst gelitten hat. Bestimmte Handlungsstränge wirkten erzwungen und gedrängt, was die Unglaubwürdigkeit erneut fördert. Die Königinnen und auch die weiteren Sidekicks waren leider allesamt ebenfalls nach diesem Muster erschaffen: Unsympathisch und unglaubwürdig mit situationsfremden, gar sich selbst widersprechenden Verhalten. Schade!
Hinzu kam der teilweise etwas holprige Schreibstil, der mich hat stocken lassen, was ich allerdings noch als ein übersehbares Übel erachte. Denn, und da war für mich dann echt einfach vorbei, hatte ich das Gefühl, jede Situation und das Ende vorhersagen zu können. Ja, für alle die es gelesen haben, auch den big big big Reveal, der im Kern zwar gut ausgedacht war, dessen Umsetzung aber teilweise an den Haaren herbeigezogen wirkte und der einfach nicht gut ausgearbeitet war und dadurch eher das unterstrich, was ich vorher schon gedacht hatte: Ganz ganz viel Potential, das hier absolut nicht ausgeschöpft wurde.
Ich kann diesem Buch, außer dem Worldbuilding und dem kleinen Lichtlein, was hätte sein können, rein gar nichts abgewinnen. Die Danksagung war ganz süß so lesen, das gebe ich zu. Aber sonst? Absolut keine Leseempfehlung von mir.
Profile Image for Tatiana.
1,379 reviews11.7k followers
October 23, 2019
This is another book club pick which is simply not my kind of book. Unlike many other picks though, Four Dead Queens managed to keep my attention well enough for me to finish it. So 2 stars for that.

This book is ok, it is fine, it has nothing in it that interests or stirs me, it was written for readers who like all the YA tropes and don't need to be challenged in any way. I didn't hate any aspect of Four Dead Queens except maybe its world building which is essentially a smorgasbord of nonsense. This "fantasy" world is assembled from random pieces of a variety of popular fantasy/sf properties like Divergent, The Giver, maybe Gattaca. There are carriages and dermasuits and top hats and DNA testing, none of which mashes well together. The "rules" of this world make the least sense of all.

In a different form, I would gladly gobble up a fantasy about a conspiracy to murder 4 queens. This version is too simple for me to care about it.
Profile Image for Lost In My Own World Of Books.
563 reviews152 followers
September 11, 2020
Quem me conhece sabe que fantasia é dos meus géneros literários preferidos. Por essa razão, quando vi este livro quis logo ler. Não poderia ter tido uma surpresa mais agradável.

Neste livro entramos no reino de Quadara, onde comandam quatro rainhas. O reino encontra-se dividido em quatro seções.

Cada rainha é responsável por uma seção. Cada seção funciona de forma diferente, com povos diferentes. Cada rainha comanda sem a presença de nenhum rei. Cada rainha deve manter a sua linhagem.

As rainhas têm as regras das rainhas, que devem seguir sem questionar. Mas será que as regras são justas? Será que as rainhas poderão fazer algo para mudar as regras?

Neste livro andamos em volta de conspirações que têm como objetivo matar as rainhas, cada uma delas até que não sobrar mais nenhuma rainha no reino. Será que este plano saíra como planeado? Porque que razão querem matar todas as rainhas?

Keralie, uma das ladras mais habilidosas do reino vê-se envolvida numa espiral em que terá que comprovar a sua inocência na morte das rainhas. Será que ela teve algo a ver com a morte das rainhas? O que será que aconteceu para ter que provar a sua inocência?

Este livro está tão bem construído que tudo se encontra interligado e tudo tem uma razão de ser. Quando pensava que não poderia ficar mais surpreendida, página após página, este livro continuava a surpreender-me.
Profile Image for Sarah Glenn Marsh.
Author 17 books765 followers
August 16, 2018
Official comments: "A cinematic thrill ride brimming with murder, mayhem, and twists that will shock you, Four Dead Queens is sure to be your next book obsession. Absolutely riveting."

Unofficial Comments: I JUST REALLY LOVED IT, OKAY? Please read it. For me. Do it!
Profile Image for The Candid Cover (Olivia & Lori).
1,150 reviews1,290 followers
April 19, 2019
Full Review on The Candid Cover

This book tells the story of a girl who steals a package only to discover that the contents contain the vivid details of a conspiracy to kill the four ruling queens of the nation. Now she must find the culprit before the public finds out the queens are dead, all while on the run from an employer. I loved the blend of fantasy and murder mystery present in the novel. This book is quite fast-paced because of this, and I found it difficult to put down. The ending was also a shock to me, which I haven’t experienced in a while. Four Dead Queens is so gripping, and it will keep readers hooked from start to finish.

❀ CLEVER MAIN CHARACTER

I adored Keralie, and I couldn’t get enough of her narration. She is a thief who is clever and cunning, and her sarcasm brings humour to a dark story. While she is the main character, she is not the only narrator. I very much enjoyed reading chapters from each of the queens knowing that they are destined to die, and I was on the edge of my seat wondering when the killer would strike. The queens’ perspectives add a lot of detail into the story, especially the world, and it is nice to get to know each of them as characters before they meet their inevitable fate.

❀ AMAZING WORLD-BUILDING

One remarkable element of the book is the well-developed setting. The nation of Quadara is split into four quadrants each ruled by one of the queens, and the divisions each have a specific focus such as technology and arts. Of course, this system raises several issues, some localized inside a quadrant and others on a wider scale. The author does a fantastic job addressing these and clearly explaining the politics of the setting. I found the four queens concept interesting, and it is executed in a believable manner.

Four Dead Queens is an engaging blend of fantasy and thriller, and the plot is surprising. I enjoyed the variety of narration and the developed setting. I would definitely recommend this one, to fantasy fans and thriller fans alike.
Profile Image for Katie.
287 reviews56 followers
March 22, 2019
When I first picked up this book, the title and summary caught my eye. I don't usually read murder mysteries, but the plot sounded interesting. Unfortunately, the book didn't live up to my expectations.

I had a lot of issues with this book though I don't want to go into too much detail because it hasn't been published yet. My biggest gripe was the plot. I'm a plot over characters person, so even if I don't like the characters (I didn't), I can still enjoy a book if the plot is interesting. The plot of this book is a basic murder mystery, and the fun part of murder mysteries is playing whodunnit and trying to guess who the murderer is. The middle section of the book, where the queens are being killed one by one (this is not a spoiler, the title says they die), was an enjoyable section. I was having fun trying to figure out motives for each character to be killing the queens. which entirely ruins (IMO) the point of a murder mystery.

Secondly, I really didn't care much for the characters. Varin was bland, but all Eonia's are portrayed as bland since they're literally supposed to be emotionless so I guess he's just being a successful Eonian. Keralie, however, was insufferable. She read like an angsty female YA character that insists she's dark without ever acting as such (see: Adelina Amouteru, Kate Harker). Their romance seemed forced at best, with the two of them managing to fall for each other in the span of less than a week. There wasn't much of a build up other than Keralie's occasional badly-timed innuendo. This was made even worse by their incredibly inappropriate time/place for their first make-out session.

Finally, and this is what pains me the most, was the worldbuilding. At times, locations felt oddly empty. Quadara is run by four queens, each with an advisor, and the queens aren't allowed to leave the palace. There are some guards and some maids but it seems like that's it? There's no reference to any of the other bureaucratic positions usually required to keep a country running. Supposedly, there are other countries that Quadara trades with, but they seem to be of so little importance that they're not even considered as potential queen-murdering suspects.

Other times, the worldbuilding felt almost non-sensical. Each quadrant of Quadara has their specialties, but what isn't mentioned is that trade and travel between quadrants is so highly regulated that citizens of one quadrant would attend black market auctions to get a taste of life in a different quadrant. When one quadrant has holographic projections and genetically modified citizens while another is in a literal pre-Industrial Revolution era ('no electricity!' says one queen early on), you really have to wonder why? What could possibly be the justification for preventing the one quadrant that can make food from using machinery to increase and optimize food production. Or create genetically modified crops that could have the potential of growing in other quadrants. If genetically modified humans are a norm, surely crops can't be much more difficult.

Overall, I give this book a 2/5. I can see where other people would enjoy this book, but it simply was not for me.
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