Monday, April 1, 2019

Review: Four Dead Queens by Astrid Scholte

Title: Four Dead Queens
Written by: Astrid Scholte
Published: February 26, 2019 by G.P. Putnam's and Sons Books for Young Readers (Penguin)

(Amazon / Goodreads)

Synopsis: 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 was really excited to read Four Dead Queens. It sounded like an interesting Ya fantasy with a ton of political intrigue and those are things that I thoroughly enjoy. And while there was a lot to like about this book, it didn’t quite blow me away.

One thing that I enjoyed about this book was the murder mystery aspect. I love a good mystery and I really like being able to solve something along with the characters in the book. This is one of those narratives that let me do that. I also really like being able to solve the mystery and with this book I was able to figure a lot of the twists out. It’s not that they were predictable (honestly there was definitely a more predictable direction this book could have gone in) I just don’t think it was particularly complex. I think because it didn’t have the same emotional impact because the one aspect connected to the main character I had figured out and when the big bad was revealed it didn’t have I enjoyed the mystery, I do however wish the mystery would have been a little more complex.

I also wish we had gotten a little more from the world building. There is a fine line to walk when it comes to developing a world. I prefer books that show instead of tell the readers about what is going on with the fictional world. And while this book leaned a little bit closer to telling us about the world. That is with the information it did reveal of course because it kept a lot to itself. There were some great aspects of their political system I found really interesting but the book kind of just told them to me instead of showing them. There was a lot of opportunity for political intrigue here but it never quite delivered on that as well.

But I think a lot of this just stemmed from the fact that it just didn’t have a compelling enough antagonist. As I mentioned before, the big bad reveal didn’t have an emotional impact and I think that was because we knew almost nothing about that person until they were revealed to be the mastermind. And because we didn’t meet them and learn about their motivations until much later in the book the person just came off as selfish and not all that intimidating. Their the kind of antagonist that could have been amazing if they were revealed to be a character we had known all along pulling the strings in the background. There were a lot of perspectives here and not having the antagonist before they were revealed was a bit of a misstep for me.

But I did however like the other character perspectives. Keralie was a great main character. I’m a sucker for a thief with a heart of gold and that’s what Keralie was. She’s badass and resourceful but with a bit of a grey moral compass and those are the characters I love being in the head of. I also really enjoyed being in the heads of the queens. It helped their deaths make more of an impact because we could get to know them and learn about their secrets which also added a lot to the mystery. I do think the voice for each queen was very similar and it was hard keeping them straight in my head but I liked being in their head.

As far as the plot and pacing goes, I think the book did a good job of capturing my interest throughout the entire story. There was some interesting choices in terms of the timeline but I never really found that confusing. It built to an exciting conclusion with enough twists along the way to keep me reading. Plus I really like the way that it had a definitive ending and didn’t leave us hanging. I was honestly expecting a cliffhanger because I think this is the first book in a series but it read like a standalone. We need more standalone fantasies and even if this is a series, I’m glad it did have a clear ending.

All in all there was a lot of good aspects of this book which I really enjoyed but it wasn’t a perfect read. The murder mystery and political intrigue were great but I wanted more, and the protagonists were great but the antagonists left a little to be desired.

I give Four Dead Queens by Astrid Scholte 7.5 out of 10 stars

Buy/Borrow/Bypass: Borrow. I think this is the kind of book I would recommend to someone who is looking to dip their toe in the water of YA fantasy. It reads like a standalone and has a good amount of mystery and politics for someone who doesn’t read a ton of the genre. But for those like me who love a complex fantasy, you may find this one slightly lacking.

Have you read Four Dead Queens? What did you think? Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!

1 comment:

  1. This one fell a little short for me too. What did you think of Varin?? Their romance was one of my biggest gripes...