[Quick Review] Four Dead Queens by Astrid Scholte

Today I’m trying something new on my blog! If you guys like it then this might become a regular thing, I’m thinking perhaps every Thursday? I want to write some shorter reviews for things that I don’t want to write a whole in-depth review on, but I have things to say about. For my enjoyment, I don’t tab every book up and take notes as I go, I mostly only do that for things that I’ve been sent for review. I always have lots of more general thoughts though so I’m going to condense those into these little quick reviews! I need a snappy alliterative name for this series though but the only alliteration I can come up with is Thirsty Thursday and I imagine that segment would be quite different…

Title: Four Dead Queens
Author: Astrid Scholte
Release Date: 26th February 2019
Rating: 3.75/5 stars

“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.”

The Characters:

➺ Keralie: Street urchin who has broken from her fisherman family to pursue a life of crime. She’s the best thief around but struggling with a lot of guilt and doesn’t trust easily. She was fun, she didn’t take herself too seriously and was also really confident in her ability.

➺ Varian: Steely, unemotive exterior, but a sweet and sensitive artist underneath. He just wants to follow his dreams but he won’t allow himself because of his upbringing. Varian is a soft boy and I love him.

The Good:

➺ I really liked the perspectives we got of the Queens – we actually read from each of their perspectives for a while, despite the title. I loved the politics and seeing the intrigue develop as we got a little more knowledge from each queen. This was super cool and political fantasies get me every time.

➺ The plot was really good! It was exciting, it had Six of Crows-esque characters, and a murder mystery and high stakes. I was genuinely really surprised going forward. I think we got some really interesting perspectives and the plot twists snuck up on me.

➺ We got a good dastardly villain. Mackiel was really coniving and cunning and although he was a crap sack, I really enjoyed reading him.

➺ The romance was super slow burn and sweet. Despite the story being quite dark and full of murder, the romance creeps up on you really slowly and heartwarmingly. It’s not a build up full of tension that you can’t wait to break, it’s more just two people growing close and realising how much they care about each other as they spend more time together. It’s cute.

The Bad:

➺ I went into this expecting a proper fantasy – that’s the vibe the cover and blurb give and the way it was marketed. It turns out there’s a much bigger sci-fi aspect to this than I was lead to believe though and it really put me off at first. The world of Quadara is split into four quadrants and one is completely technology based. They have trains and TV screens and supersuits and stuff in this world.

➺ The topic of eugenics is present but not really unpacked, and I know some people really didn’t like this.

➺ It did suffer from a case of the ‘Bury Your Gays’ trope. I know it was part of the plot to make a certain character more sympathetic and they’ve tried to make up for it by briefly mentioning another gay couple twice, but its still a bit iffy.

➺ It just generally suffered from a bit of underdevelopment. I think the world could have used a lot more work. There were lots of elements mentioned in passing that were never explored and the world just felt a little disjointed. The author was trying to do a lot but I feel like some things just didn’t gel. It is a debut though, so there’s lots of room for improvement! I think I’ve just come to expect a lot from my fantasy after books like Priory of the Orange Tree.

Final Thoughts:

This was really enjoyable, it was a great story and if you liked sci-fi then you probably won’t mind the disjointed world as much as I do. I think for plot alone I’d probably give it more of a 4.5, but the world building is what brought it down in my mind. If you like your fantasy worlds super developed and cohesive, then you might struggle with this slightly, but if you’re looking for something lighter then I’m sure you’ll really enjoy this.

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