A divided nation. Four Queens. A ruthless pickpocket. A noble messenger. And the murders that unite them.
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 received an ARC at BookCon
Review: When I first picked up this book, the title and summary caught my eye. I don’t usually read murder mysteries, but the plot sounded interesting enough to give it a try. Unfortunately, the book didn’t live up to my expectations.
I had a lot of issues with this book though I don’t want to go into too much detail because it hasn’t been published yet. My biggest gripe was the plot. I’m a plot over characters person, so even if I don’t like the characters (I didn’t), I can still enjoy a book if the plot is interesting. The plot of this book is a basic murder mystery, and the fun part of murder mysteries is playing whodunnit and trying to guess who the murderer is. The middle section of the book, where the queens are being killed one by one (this is not a spoiler, the title says they die), was an enjoyable section. I was having fun trying to figure out motives for each character to be killing the queens. However, the actual murderer isn’t even introduced until the last quarter of the book, which entirely ruins (IMO) the point of a murder mystery.
Secondly, I really didn’t care much for the characters. Varin was bland, but all Eonian’s are portrayed as bland since they’re literally supposed to be emotionless so I guess he’s just being a successful Eonian. Keralie, however, was insufferable. She read like those angsty female YA character that insists she’s dark without ever acting as such (see: Adelina Amouteru, Kate Harker). Their romance seemed forced at best, with the two of them managing to fall for each other in the span of less than a week. There wasn’t much of a build up other than Keralie’s occasional badly-timed innuendo. This was made even worse by their incredibly inappropriate time/place for their first make-out session.
Finally, and this is what pains me the most, was the worldbuilding. At times, locations felt oddly empty. Quadara is run by four queens, each with an advisor, and the queens aren’t allowed to leave the palace. There are some guards and some maids but it seems like that’s it? There’s no reference to any of the other bureaucratic positions usually required to keep a country running. Supposedly, there are other countries that Quadara trades with, but they seem to be of so little importance that they’re not even considered as potential queen-murdering suspects.
Other times, the worldbuilding felt almost non-sensical. Each quadrant of Quadara has their specialties, but what isn’t mentioned is that trade and travel between quadrants is so highly regulated that citizens of one quadrant would attend black market auctions to get a taste of life in a different quadrant. When one quadrant has holographic projections and genetically modified citizens while another is in a literal pre-Industrial Revolution era (‘no electricity!’ says one queen early on), you really have to wonder why? What could possibly be the justification for preventing the one quadrant that can make food from using machinery to increase and optimize food production. Or create genetically modified crops that could have the potential of growing in other quadrants. If genetically modified humans are a norm, surely crops can’t be much more difficult.
Overall, I give this book a 2/5. I can see where other people would enjoy this book, but it simply was not for me.
/r/Fantasy Bingo Squares
- Stand Alone Fantasy Novel
- LGBTQ+ Fantasy Database