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Book Review: Four Dead Queens, a YA Triple Threat!

Title: Four Dead Queens

Author: Astrid Scholte

Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers, 2019

ISBN#- 978-0-525-51392-6

While I don’t pretend to read a lot of YA (books designated as appropriate for “young adults,” typically for ages 12 and up) this book is a legit triple threat and had me hooked until the last page. I was, in fact, so hooked, that I had checked out both the physical book from the library and downloaded the audiobook on my Libby app so I could read before bed and while doing household tasks! 

Fantasy! Murder! Mystery! Oh my! 

FANTASY: Set in Quadara, a land divided into four separate areas, ruled by four separate queens, Quadara had been ruled predictably for the last 400 years. Each land had its own specialties (agriculture/trade/technology/arts) and centered around the palace, locked in the middle. I love when fantasy books include maps and other “insider” information before the book begins, so I was thrilled with the detailed map and rules and well-known expressions from each of the quadrants. I’ve always felt inclusion of details like these help set the reader up for success, especially those on the younger end. 

MURDER- Yep, the title gives this one away. The reader even knows about the murders and how they are completed early on. What makes it so good? 

MYSTERY- You guess it, it’s the mystery! The reader is given full access to the perspectives of all four queens and additional main characters, Keralie (a 17-year old Torian who makes her way by thievery), Mackiel (a slightly older Torian who runs the black market trade in Toria), and Varin (a 17-year old Eonist messenger). Woven throughout the mystery of the murders: the unveiling of secrets behind the four queens, Keralie, Mackiel, and Varin. The reader is left to decide if these secrets contribute to the murders and whether or not they can be stopped in time. 

“Sometimes failure is the beginning of success.” ~Varin

 Four Dead Queens is fast-paced, action-packed, and has just the right amount of twists and turns to keep the pages turning. Just when I thought the adventures were becoming predictable, the plot, built upon a combination of the reader’s knowledge of the inner-workings and rules of Quadara and the characters from both outside and inside the golden-domed palace. 

For parents wondering about age-appropriateness, there are definitely elements of romance (kissing and mention of nudity). There are a handful of swear words as well. Lesbian relationships are also present. I recommend this read for 8th grade and up.

I rarely ever read a book and hope for a movie. However, this might be an exception. Although this is a debut novel for Astrid Scholte, it’s clear she has spent her life devoted to the art of fantasy. She’s worked for Steven Spielberg and Walt Disney! The book reads like the kind of movie you leave the theater feeling happy you spent the money to watch. 

I gave this book 5 out of 5 stars on Goodreads. Other reviews include: 

“A fierce, darkly compelling protagonist…and readers will want to double back to get a better look at the various turns of the enticingly twisting timeline.” Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books

“The story takes unexpected turns, has complicated characters who develop over time, and ends unpredictably …. A recommended addition to young adult fantasy/dystopian collections.” School Library Journal

Penguin released this trailer to build excitement. Feel free to dangle it in front a potential reluctant reader. 🙂

Works Cited:

Adeyemi, Tomi. (2018) Legacy of Orishi. Henry Holt and Company. 

Collins, Suzanne. (2008) The Hunger Games Trilogy. Scholastic. 

Scholte, Astrid. (2019) Four Dead Queens. G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers.

Voels, Sarah.  (2019) “Four Dead Queens.” School Library Journal. 

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