I wasn’t sure what I was expecting with Four Dead Queens. But what I ended up reading was part murder mystery, part science fiction, and part adventure.
These are the words Keralie Corrington lives by as the preeminent dipper in the Concord, the central area uniting the four quadrants of Quadara. She steals under the guidance of her mentor Mackiel, who runs a black market selling their bounty to buyers desperate for what they can’t get in their own quarter. For in the nation of Quadara, each quarter is strictly divided from the other. Four queens rule together, one from each region:
Toria: the intellectual quarter that values education and ambition
Ludia: the pleasure quarter that values celebration, passion, and entertainment
Archia: the agricultural quarter that values simplicity and nature
Eonia: the futurist quarter that values technology, stoicism and harmonious community
When Keralie intercepts a comm disk coming from the House of Concord, what seems like a standard job goes horribly wrong. Upon watching the comm disks, Keralie sees all four queens murdered in four brutal ways.
Hoping that discovering the intended recipient will reveal the culprit – information that is bound to be valuable bartering material with the palace – Keralie teams up with Varin Bollt, the Eonist messenger she stole from, to complete Varin’s original job and see where it takes them.
(Disclaimer: I received this free book from Bookish. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)
EDITED: I want to point y’all to Paperfury’s goodreads review where she calls out that FOUR DEAD QUEENS has the trope where the queer characters are killed off, and ableism that is not addressed.
Four Dead Queens is one of those books with hidden layers. If you’re expecting a traditional fantasy book, you’ll probably be disappointed. Four Dead Queens is more of a murder mystery story taking place in a fantasy world. After witnessing the deaths, Kera has to figure out what to do with this information, and who might have done it. While she may be an accomplished pick pocket, does she have the wits to be a detective as well?
And just when you become accustomed to the story, Scholte turns everything on its head. The whole book takes on a more sinister light. Looking deeper at the consequences of power, technology, and ambition.
Throughout the book we read not only Kera’s point of view, but snippets from each of the queens. This allows us to better see the situation, to witness the unraveling of the court, and the inner lives of these leaders. There are origin secrets, f/f love stories, and more at work within these walls (But as I mentioned in my edit, the queer characters are killed within the story).
Characters and World
I was pretty sure I was going to really like Kera because she is slippery, quick on her feet, and cunning. But in the end I really liked Varin. We were able to really find out about Varin’s history and his home quadrant of Eonia – which is the most interesting quadrant. But because of his character, we didn’t really find out much more about the other quadrants. Kera is a bit of a conwoman, and the whole book I was wondering if we can really trust someone like Kera.
EDITED: To address the quadrants, one of the quadrants is incredibly ableist as they believe firmly in eugenics.
Which I really missed. When each of them have such bold ideas about each other. With those who love life, those focused on science and logic, one with a seedy underbelly, and another that is focused on the basics, I wanted more details. You get some more details when you hear the perspectives of the four queens, but this was one area where I wanted more.
Four Dead Queens examines the ups and downs, the dangers and treasures of love. In a world of secrets, there’s a price to pay for what we desire – most of all love. It asks us who we really are? If we can be ourselves if we aren’t free to love? And who lies in the dark that lurks within us waiting to be exposed to the light.
In Four Dead Queens there are some great twists, fantastic reveals, and underrated characters.