So, if you’re not familiar with the book, Four Dead Queens by Astid Scholte, please read our review ( https://tinminutebookreviews.com/four-dead-queens/ ) before continuing on with this blog post ….. Finished reading? Ok, let’s get started.
The book starts off well, giving the reader a view into Quadra. The things is, the world is confusing. Eonia has technology that can maintain body temperature effortlessly, and yet the territories of Archia and Toria, are stuck in the 18th century, while Ludia appears to be in a constant state of Mardi Gras . That aside, our main player, Keralie or Kera for short, lives in Toria, the fishing town, and spares no time in letting the reader know just how in love she is with a boy who’s been using her to steal ever since she was a child. The author tries too hard to make Mackiel (the second point in the story’s love triangle with Kera being the first) seem dashingly rogue-ish. “The line of kohl around his lids made his deep-set blue eyes stand out all the more.” (Book excerpt) Couple that with the bowler hat that he always seems to wears and you get Alex from Clockwork Orange.
I’m not sure if the author was going for that comparison, but it is entirely possible. Anyway, Keralie loves him, he strings her along, and of course the third point in the book’s love triangle comes moseying in. If Mackiel is supposed to be the embodiment of the hot, yet tortured bad boy, then Varin is the epitome of the by-the-book, but kind hearted, good guy. Now, Kera must decide if the wants the angel on her side or the devil on her shoulder. With the obligatory love triangle successfully cemented, let’s get down to the parts of the book that made absolutely no sense.
In regards to Kera, the author plays her up to be a world renown pick-pocket or “dipper” but it just comes across as flat talk. We are told of her feats, even as they are happening but with very little description of what she’s actually doing. For instance, we, the reader, are with Kera when she is pick-pocketing Varin for the comm chip, but we do not ‘see’ how she did it. All that happens is that she bumps into him, they make small talk, and she walks away. This is the common thread in regards to her dipping exploits.
We learn about the four queens from the four different quadrants and why it is necessary for them to all live together under one roof. But, what is not explained is why Toria was chosen for this. Wouldn’t Eonia make the most sense to house four royals due to how technologically advanced the people of the land are? Surely four precious royals would be safer there than in a fishing village. Or perhaps Archia since it was away from the main lands and therefore the safer option. Nope! Let’s dump the queens in the middle of fish monger town, that’ll suit’em.
There is a romance that sparks up between two of the queens, but one is dead before we can read anything about it, and the other dies not long after. Another queen is in love with a childhood friend, but she is murdered, so there goes that tale as well. It would have been nice to see first hand how the romances began or even sweet moments between the couples, but no. Once again, we are bombarded by the all-telling, no-showing writing style of the author. In the end, we are left rooting for a mean spirited pick-pocket who can’t decide who she wants more: the good guy she can get over on, or the bad boy she’s loved for years but doesn’t love her back. Kera goes back and forth as she and Varin try to solve the murders of the the queens until…hold onto your tea because…..
………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..It is revealed that Keralie is the murderer!!! Yeah, didn’t see that one coming did ya? Apparently she swallowed some sort of mind control chips without knowing what they were because, why else, Mackiel told her to do so. Then, he used his mind controlled protege’ to assassinate the queens. Now, here is another thing that doesn’t make sense. Kera met Varin when she was stealing a comm chip from him. These chips are embedded with the specifically chosen memories of their owners. For example, I want to show you how much fun I had on my vacation. So, I have one of these chips made, imprint it with my memories of skydiving, and water skiing, and then send it to you. Once you have it, you touch it and you’re able to see every memory that I’ve placed on it. Kind of like Facebook 360 with smell-o-vision, but if you could put it in the mail.
Sometime after Kera steals the chip, she touches it and sees all of the murders as they take place. So, she believes that whoever sent Varin with the chip must be the actual murderer. But, as the author explains it, the memories are Kera’s. Here’s the problem though, it has already been established that Kera HAS no memories of ever committing the murders since she was being mind controlled by Mackiel at the time of them. If she has no memory of committing the murders, then HOW CAN SHE IMPRINT WHAT SHE DOESN’T HAVE ON A CHIP?
There is no answer for this plot hole. We are just to move along and pretend as though it doesn’t exist. Speaking of plot holes, why is this book named Four Dead Queens when really there are only three dead queens? The book speaks of a cure all treatment called HIDRA that is so rare, it is only administered once a year to only one person who is deemed worthy by all four of the queens. Thousands are dying from a blood plague but instead of using it to cure them, it used to heal Mackiel’s hand that was injured in a fight. It was also used to save the queen of Toria… in the same week. HIDRA is not as rare as we were formerly led to believe apparently. So there you have it! Queer Queens? Dead. Hetero Queen? Dead. Old Queen with an evil daughter who is willing to kill any and everyone to get what she wants? Alive and kicking. Overall, this novel was an emotional let down filled with too much telling and not enough showing.