April 8, 2019

Abbreviations #84: Four Dead Queens, How to Train Your Dragon + Wicked Saints

When Keralie is tasked to steal a valuable item from a hired messenger, she thinks nothing of it. But when Varin attempts to retrieve the item from her to complete his job, the two of them discover that there is a bigger conspiracy at foot that leaves the four queens – one for each quadrant of Quadara – dead. The two of them must both stay alive and work together to uncover some unexpected secrets that might just lead them to the murderer.

The way I have spoken about Four Dead Queens ever since I finished it has remained consistent: it’s one of those fun, quick, easy YA fantasy reads. While those tend not to become all-time favorites for me, they are still quite entertaining. I particularly enjoyed the world of this novel, where Quadara is a kingdom divided into four quadrants with specific areas of interest and values ruled by four queens and where it embraces both typical fantasy details and sci-fi technological advancements. The characters were just interesting enough to keep my attention, though I did feel like they were a touch underdeveloped… which also extends to the relationships as well. The plot is what kept me turning the pages of this one, because I wanted to see how all the elements of this mystery would fall into place. If you’re craving a lighter, quicker fantasy read (though the murders are certainly brutal), you may want to check this one out.

Four Dead Queens by Astrid Scholte | Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers | Publication Date: February 26, 2019 | Source: ARC received from the publisher (Thank you!)

Hiccup Horrendous Haddock III might now be one of the most well-known Viking heroes, renowned for his ability to communicate with dragons. But before he gained such an illustrious recommendation, Hiccup was simply a clever, thoughtful boy, son of the chief of the Hairy Hooligans who had to undergo the military training and trials of the Vikings to prove himself. In the first novel of this series, Hiccup recounts the story of how he captured and trained his dragon and how he became a fully-fledged member of the Hairy Hooligans despite a mishap or two.

I love the How to Train Your Dragon film franchise (and I’m eagerly awaiting the release of the third film at the time of writing this review) a whole lot, and I love David Tennant a whole lot, so you can imagine how excited I was to purchase this audiobook! Prior to making the decision to listen to this book, I only knew the basic facts of the story as distilled from the film. While the parallels are there, the novel is an entirely different experience – and I enjoyed it! Granted, I am very partial to the fact that Tennant does an incredible job with the narration (His accents! His intonation!). But apart from that, I just thought it was fun to experience Hiccup’s story in a different medium and with a different plot. Hiccup is the quintessential underdog of a hero; he’s unlike the traditional Viking in manner, and he also possesses a unique way of viewing the world (and dragons). It’s immediately apparent that his heart is in the right place, even as his mind wars with itself over the fact that he has to do his best to live up to his unasked for position as the son of the chief. Listening to Hiccup triumph over the obstacles in his way, combined with the matter of fact sections about dragons and the hilarity of the vocabulary and commentary from a variety of sources, well, it made my listening experience utterly entertaining. I’m glad I finally took the time to listen to this one, and I certainly intend to experience the rest of the book series via audio as well.

How to Train Your Dragon by Cressida Cowell (as narrated by David Tennant) | Series: How to Train Your Dragon #1 | Publisher: Hachette Childrens Books | Publication Date: April 22, 2010 | Source: Owned the audiobook

Nadezhda (Nadya) Lapteva is a girl who can speak to the gods, brought up with the knowledge that her power is what will save the people of Kalyazin from destruction at the hands of Tranavia. Forced to flee her monastery home when enemy soldiers arrive, she finds herself allying with a ragtag bunch of individuals who share one goal: assassinating the king of Tranavia. When the group infiltrates enemy territory to put their plan into action, Nadya crosses paths with crown prince Serefin, who is scheming to avoid the future laid out for him. Both will find their faith sorely tested and, in the end, it will all boil down to the choices they make and the consequences that follow.

I had very high expectations for Wicked Saints, and that was to the novel’s detriment in the end. This is not to say that I didn’t like it, because I did think it was a solid series starter. I just didn’t love it the way that I would have wanted to! The world was one of the positive aspects of this story, since I thought the conflict, magic and epigraphs at the start of each chapter were fascinating. I also got swept up in the action of the last third of the book, which was when this story took a turn for the intense, dark and exciting. But overall, personally, Wicked Saints turned out to be an average fantasy YA read. There are a lot of familiar tropes and a few lulls in the plot progression, which contributed to my lukewarm response. But it was really the fact that I didn’t feel deeply invested in any of the main characters (though I do prefer Serefin and his story) that decided me on my overall opinion. I’m still considering picking up the sequel (especially after how this one ends) but Wicked Saints was simply okay.

Wicked Saints by Emily A. Duncan | Series: Something Dark and Holy #1 | Publisher: Wednesday Books | Publication Date: April 2, 2019 | Source: ARC received from the publisher (Thank you!)


  1. I feel like Wicked Saints is so overhyped right now. I hate that because then it gives me big expectations! Hopefully it doesn't fall flat for me. Thanks for sharing. :)
    Krystianna @ Downright Dystopian


Thanks for leaving a comment! I love seeing what you have to say, and will try to reply (here or on Twitter) as soon as I can :)