Welcome to my review of FOUR DEAD QUEENS by Astrid Scholte.

FOUR DEAD QUEENS. It’s the story of a young thief. It’s the story of Quadaria. The dipper, Keralie, steals a case containing valuable memory chips, a Eonist technology where people can give their memories to another. At gunpoint, caught in a trap between her victim and her boss, Keralie ingests the memory chips in a desperate attempt to escape, resulting in her seeing vivid images of the murders of Quadara’s queens; Torian Queen Marguerite, Ludian Queen Stessa, Eonist Queen Corra and Archian Queen Iris.

It’s a stunning opening. And from there we’re treated to chapters from the points-of-view of the queens, learn each of their stories, each of their hopes and fears, each of their secrets. But what’s happening? Aren’t they dead? Have we gone back in time? And that’s one thing that makes FOUR DEAD QUEENS so good – Scholte keeps you guessing until the end.

The world building was also great. Quadaria is divided into unique quadrants; Archia which produces Quadaria’s food, and where technology is illegal. Eonia is in the frozen north, focusing on technology and human advancement, at the cost of emotions. Toria is the trading hub, and Ludia values art and entertainment above all. Each quadrant is separated from the others, Archia is an island, and Toria, Ludia and Eonia are separated by walls. Through the course of the book we visit Toria and Eonia, and probably my biggest complaint about the book is that we didn’t get to visit Ludia and Archia.

The characters are all unique, different and interesting. The main character Keralie has strained relationships with her parents. So strained that she left home and is now working for Mackiel, a major player in Toria’s underworld. You can see where the values and characteristics of each person’s home quadrant influences their perspective, their personality. And you can see where some act in particular ways because they feel that is how an Eonist (for example) ought to act. I’ve already mentioned it, but I really enjoyed and appreciated the perspectives we got of each of the queens.

In conclusion, FOUR DEAD QUEENS has it all; excellent characters, murder, mystery, action, betrayal and just the right amount of romance. It’s a celebration of bold, complex, powerful and determined female characters, and I heartily recommend it! In fact, it’s probably one of the must-read books of 2019.

  • Originally published April 2019

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