I was blown away by the details!

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This book was like a roller coaster ride from one side of death to another. Scholte has given us a story full of twists and turns, literally, to the very end. There were times I thought I totally knew where the book was going (and on a few rare occasions, I have been right) but over all -- boy was I wrong!

Let's start with the plot. As the title tells us, the novel is the tale of 4 dead queens. How they died, and who did it, of course. The 4 queens are killed off, one by one, by a mysterious assassin that could not be traced. The story is propelled forward using this plot. There are an insane amount of twists that happen during the novel, pushing the trajectory off in a direction you weren't really expecting. I enjoyed this, as I was pleased to just allow the events to unfold and surprise me as we went. I did not do much "investigating" between the lines as I was too wrapped up in just enjoying it!

The book is told from MULTIPLE POV, which I thought would be tedious, but Scholte does it in a way that is almost seamless. All but Keralie's chapters are in third person, letting you know that these are events that are happening outside of Keralie's knowledge but still important parts of the story. I actually really enjoyed this form of writing. It was well done, and mostly organized.

When the story opens, we are introduced to the four ruling queens of Quadara: Iris of Archia, Corra of Eonia, Stessa of Ludia and Marguerite of Toria. She introduces us to each queen, dives into their personal lives and forces us to care about them. While each of the queens had their own personality, I still felt like I could relate to SOME part of each one of their struggles or secrets. Secrets seem to be what made the palace thrive, each quadrant holding onto something.

Marguerite's secret was most surprising to me, but once I thought about it -- not really. Those that protest the loudest usually have the most to hide. There is another secret that made me very happy, but to release who's it was would give it away too easily, so this is where the secrets end.

The primary character of the book (I wont say MAIN character, as there were so many moving parts of this story) was Keralie. She was a spite fire! I adored her character and her drive to do the right thing, even if it was solely fueled by saving her father. We learn early on that he was in a terrible boating accident - and that's all I will say, my darlings. Keralie knew who she was through out most of the novel, but it took her a while to ACCEPT that. I felt like that was a huge take away from the story. Letting people tell you who you are only makes recognizing the real you harder. Keralie was wild, reckless and spirited - everything I was a child. This made me root for her even more. While it may not have been the most appropriate response, it was mine nonetheless.

The side characters are very interesting, Mackiel, Varin, and the last character we meet are all suitable side characters, each one adding a layer of depth to the story. The way Scholte used relationships and emotions in the novel was captivating, allowing us to be torn between logic and heart, survival and sacrifice.

I would have been happy to give this novel a solid 5 stars but... the romance seemed entirely unnecessary. I understand that people love romance, but the book worked beautifully without that forced attraction. I do understand that purpose of it, Varin's ability to feel despite his upbringing, the need for Keralie to be vulnerable -- I just felt like the romance was force and did not truly add to the story.

Over all, though - this was a novel that I will likely reread, or relisten to - as I switched back and forth from audiobook to my physical copy. This is a 4 star read for me! I encourage anyone with a love of fantasy, mystery and intrigue to jump in feet first. You will not be disappointed!