Four Dead Queens by Astrid Scholte

The fourth book I read during my March Break Read-a-Thon was Four Dead Queens by Astrid Scholte, which was released in North America on February 26, 2019. Four Dead Queens promises to be an enthralling fast-paced murder mystery where competing agendas collide with deadly consequences.

Four dead queens. Three days to catch a killer. Two forbidden romances. One shocking twist you won’t see coming. 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. 

P.S. A big thank-you goes out to Indigo Books & Music Inc., who kindly provided me with a physical copy of Four Dead Queens by Astrid Scholte in exchange for an honest review.

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Four Dead Queens by Astrid Scholte was an enthralling murder mystery packed to the brim with intrigue and romance, despite a slow start and confusing timeline. Readers will quickly fall in love with Keralie and Varin’ characters, and find themselves enthralled by the mystery of the Four Dead Queens – and the secrets they took to the grave with them. Despite this, a slow-burn plot with a convoluted timeline will leave readers wishing for something more.

Something Scholte did well in Four Dead Queens was the development of her characters – not only Keralie and Varin, but also the Four Queens (even if their parts were somewhat smaller). Keralie, in particular, will capture readers’ hearts with her morally grey disposition and steadfast determination. Keralie is a talented thief, a cunning liar, a selfish ruthless girl – but she is also strong, resilient, unwavering, snarky and hilarious. Readers will also love Keralie as a main character development throughout Three Dead Queens. It is so strong, it makes sense, and it is done in a very satisfying way. Keralie’s storyline alternates with glimpses into the lives of each of the queens, which also gives the reader insight into their lives, developing the Corra, Stessa, Iris, and Arabella into characters that exist beyond their deaths. Varin, for his part, is loyal and adorable, but he’s also sneaky, smart, strong and wise – making him a near perfect match for Keralie’s wild spirit.

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Despite quickly falling in with Keralie and Varin’ characters, and the mystery of the Four Dead Queens, I struggled to get through this book. Slow starts are one thing, but at almost halfway through this story, I was still waiting for something meaningful to happen (and no, the deaths of the queens don’t count – the title and synopsis quite gave those away). In my opinion, Scholte spent far too much time setting the scene, info-dumping in between scenes of exposition and small bits of action. 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. That being said, once the story finally came together, all the pieces falling into place, the pace did pick up and the murder mystery quickly became enthralling. Unfortunately, it was too little, too late, leaving the plot feeling info-heavy and uneven – no matter how thrilling the conclusion was.

Overall, it is safe to say that readers will love the characters of Astrid Scholte’s Four Dead Queens – from Keralie, to Varin, to Corra, Stessa, Iris, and Arabella, and even Mackiel. However, the amount of character development and world-building overshadow the plot, resulting in a plot that feels info-heavy and uneven – no matter how thrilling the conclusion was (3/5).

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