Book Review: Four Dead Queens by Astrid Scholte

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.

I’m not sure I knew what to expect when I received this book. I was asked to review it and, while I love fantasy, I don’t read much that is considered young adult. Yet, when I read it I fell in love with the main characters, the plot was engaging and full of twists and the ending was perfect.
The story is about a young thief Keralie who is told to steal an important package from messenger Varin. Varin tracks Keralie down, trying to recover the stolen item but when he does, the pair end up embroiled in a plot to strike down the rulers of Quadara. If Keralie and Varin don’t work together to solve the mystery of who is plotting against the four queens, it could mean the ruin of all four quarters, the entire realm.
What I like best about the plot is that it has a lot of unexpected layers and elements. The author writes from multiple points of view to carry forward the narrative. It’s not a new technique but Astrid Scholte does a great job of weaving together the various voices to make a cohesive story. Not only does the plot stay consistent throughout but the story has several twists and turns that are unexpected and add to the enjoyment of the novel. The story weaves together those voices, layering the plot for the reader over the voices of the characters.
One of the elements that makes this so intriguing is the world itself. Quadara is not the only kingdom in the world but it is ruled by four queens, each helping to keep their quadrant strong and yet separate. The reason for four queens is intriguing and unusual, creating part of the conflict within the novel and it is the changes to this dynamic world that allows for the resolution to the plot.
The main characters have a wonderful arc, growing and becoming stronger. Keralie and Varin start out very much at odds but being forced to work together creates a bond between the two. In addition, their strengths build together to solve the problems within the story but they don’t do it alone. The queens also have their own voices and their own purpose within the story. Even little details that don’t seem important are part of the overall character development or part of resolving the conflict within the story. I love how strong Keralie is, her abilities part of her and her passion for life helping Varin come alive, helping him be more emotional. He also helps Keralie, with his morality and wisdom. Both main characters made me fall in love with them over their interactions with each other. Not only are Keralie and Varin strong, but the villains of the piece are equally interesting.
The resolution of the conflict, without giving anything away, helped resolve both the story and Keralie’s character arc. It is satisfying, completely in character for Keralie and leaves the world open for more stories. I loved the characters, the plot and will be watching this author for more of her work.

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

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