Four Dead Queens by Astrid Scholte
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers (February 26, 2019)
Print Length: 432 pages
Audiobook Length: 11 hrs and 32 mins
Narrator: Amy Shiels, Elizabeth Knowelden
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.
What an impressive debut. What an exquisite standalone. Wow.
As of late, I’ve come to be a sceptic when it comes to hyped YA fantasy. As someone who finds herself in one of the biggest reading slumps of her life, it isn’t an option for me anymore to pick up a novel and have it finished in two days. So to say that I was worried about a high praised YA standalone exceeding my expectations is a bit of an understatement.
Due to it being a standalone, Four Dead Queens is masterful at getting right to the point. A fantasy/sci-fi murder mystery, the novel wastes no time in terms of pacing, world building, or character development. It needed to get to the point because there was only 432 pages to wrap everything up, and I certainly enjoyed trying my hand at being a detective.
One way I think Four Dead Queens was able to be so successful as a standalone is with its morally grey characters. Keralie was a ruthless thief who wanted nothing more than to stop the crimes committed by the assassin. Varin has accepted his fate but yet also still wants to help those who could change it. And the Queens. Those beautiful and selfish Queens. They were meant to rule their kingdom under laws that seemingly ruled them, but that doesn’t mean that those of them who didn’t make it went quietly. And while the romance wasn’t necessary, to be honest I preferred Keralie and Varin as friends, I did understand Scholte’s objective when she wrote them learning to become better individuals rather than better partners.
Overall Rating: 4 out of 5 stars.
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And those are my thoughts on Four Dead Queens by Astrid Scholte. Have any YA fantasy recommendations you think I should check out? Leave them as a comment below and help my TBR grow.