Once in a while, I take a gamble with a book that doesn’t really look like my type, and then it ends up a fun, fast-paced surprise. Introducing Aelfraed, Durriken, Lancelot, and Blaxton. I mean, The Four Suitors.
In the kingdom of Avaritia, the king and queen and especially their daughter are certainly not the best role models. The king and queen aren’t beneath the surface, at least. Princess Laetitia is a full-on jalapeno guacamole bomb. I’m actually surprised Posey gave a cover with her wearing a dress and tiara. Laetitia is defiant till the last drop of blood and destructive to anyone who tries to inflict any small sense of control.
Aelfraed is all about philosophy, Durriken’s into astronomy, Lancelot’s BFF is art, and Blaxton’s obsession is necromancy. These four were brought up because apparently Laetitia is going to have to pick between them to be her husband, and she is so against this she makes Merida from Pixar’s Brave look open to romance. She plans on terrorizing them through their mandatory classes, but on the side she realizes there is some sort of strange infection going around town, and maybe it’s because she has always felt used (she doesn’t know her privilege, but nonetheless) but she now wants to flex her political power, if she has any, and help the town out. And her and her suitors might not develop love, but a sort of connection of trust. Or maybe she’ll poison them with the new moss. Who knows with Laetitia?
Books about princes fighting over a potential bride is far from unheard of, so when I was given the opportunity to read a book on Reedsy with a title as promising of that genre as ‘The Four Suitors’, I had immediate ideas for what to expect, and thought how I would like it would depend on how the story would flow. I figured this was going to be a guessing game of who would steal the princess’ heart with small corruption on the side. I really underestimated this book, a fact I clued into when a preteen Laetitia heartlessly performs a humiliating supernatural prank at a big celebration after fairly literally torturing her tutors.
What stands out the most in Posey’s novel is Princess Laetitia’s attitude. Readers will start out disliking her for being both aggressive and spoiled while unaware of how worse she could have it, whilst also respecting her for how she doesn’t let anyone dictate her life or views. She stands out as supremely unconventional royalty, and yet when we see her do the right thing for the peasants of Avaritia, albeit threateningly, she turns from a brat into an interesting brat, and the development she receives from her suitors is sweet without turning sappy, heartwarming without sending the message of women needing a man.
Each of the suitors feel like the hero of their own story, and there’s never a clear idea who she’ll end up with, if she ends up with them at all. I like it when stories play hard-to-get like that, and fortunately the suitors don’t overstay their welcome. A book only about Laetitia getting to know each of them and fighting over a choice would likely seem shallow. The mysteries that take place, of not just a dangerous epidemic but a demon possibly resurrected from necromancy and someone out to get the princess, all keep the story not just afloat but involving.
I think this is the most well-written book I’ve read on Reedsy so far. I’m unashamed to say a lot of the words Posey used aren’t in my vocabulary, but her storytelling was smooth and passionate enough to always keep my attention, especially involving the necromancy and deadly infection. Something new always pops up, making it never feel like we have to get through a slow middle.
The final conclusion will cause some “seriously?!” thoughts. What it entails is a little more unsettling than the characters express it is. If that is how it ends up, I can imagine some awkwardness, especially in bed. At least the characters don’t let it get to them. If you are looking for a coming-of-age fantasy with some unconventional extremism, The Four Suitors marks the X on the map.
Like Kiera Cass but with a refreshing rudeness, Laetitia and her story will have you cheering her on, insults and all.