Get in quick, get out quicker.
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.
I was lucky enough to receive an advanced readers copy of this book from Allen and Unwin, and wow! I am so happy I got to read this incredible stand alone debut from, fellow Aussie, Astrid Schotle, early! I am still reeling from the high this book gave me, it was phenomenal! The plot, world building and characters! All of it was amazing!
Four Dead Queens follows a ruthless, sassy thief named Keralie, navigating a world full of deception, conspiracy, love and self acceptance. She is joined by the stoic and handsome, Varin, who together, become insnared in the tangled web that has left the four ruling queens of Quadara dead. We get to see this story unfold through several different perspectives- that of Kearalie and the four queens of Quadara. Each queen rules over a seperate region of Quadara and is responsible for overseeing different aspects of life such as art, agriculture, technological advancement and exportation and exploration.
To begin with, I wasn’t sure about this book. I was having a hard time connecting with some of the characters, however, it didn’t take long at all for me to become so engrossed in the world, that I had a hard time putting the book down. The characters were beautifully diverse and it was really enjoyable seeing diverse, female characters in positions of power. The world building was rich and thorough and the plot itself was full of genuine surprises! Have you ever looked up from a book and audibly gasped because you didn’t see a twist coming? Because I have now!
The pacing was good. It was jam packed full of action, which I really loved. It felt like the story progressed well. My only criticism would be that it was, at times, hard to discern how much time had passed throughout the story because it was all action, all the time. This wasn’t too big of an issue though due to the fact the story was so well done and the use of different character perspectives had the story flowing nicely.
Overall, I haven’t got anything really negative to say about this book. I really enjoyed the fact that the author was able to blend a dystopian fantasy novel with a murder mystery and have it work so seamlessly. Four Dead Queens kept me guessing all the way though and it was truly a pleasure to read! Because of this, I am giving it 4.5 stars!