The Four

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Pub Date 11 Apr 2024 | Archive Date 15 Apr 2024

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'A dark, compelling and beguiling novel of revenge, guilt and love – Ellie Keel is a dazzling new voice’ Kate Mosse

‘An intensely gripping, thrilling and darkly beautiful debut. I was hooked’ Karin Slaughter

‘Sharp, powerful, tragic and addictive’ Chris Whitaker

‘This is The Secret History for millennials' Daisy Goodwin


We were always The Four. From our very first day at High Realms.

The four scholarship pupils. Outsiders in a world of power and privilege.

It would have made our lives a lot easier if Marta had simply pushed Genevieve out of our bedroom window that day. Certainly, it would have been tragic. She would have died instantly.

But Marta didn’t push her then, or – if you choose to believe me – at any other time. If she had, all of what we went through would not have happened.

I’ve told this story as clearly as I could – as rationally as I’ve been able, in the circumstances, to achieve. I don’t regret what we did. And I would do it all again.


Reader reviews:

'A shockingly powerful debut… raw and unflinching, not for the faint of heart' ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

'Beautifully written and utterly brutal' ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

'Complex and heart wrenching and oh so gripping' ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐


'Suspenseful… an engrossing read' The Sunday Times

‘Addictive debut… sharp, compelling’ Adele Parks, Platinum

'Darkly disturbing and deeply atmospheric' Heat

‘One warning: clear your diary before you pick up this novel, as once you’ve read a handful of pages you will be hooked' I News


* A Blackwell's Booksellers' Choice for 2024

* A Fabulous Magazine Top Book of 2024

* Featured in Dua Lipa’s Service95 Top Fiction Trends for 2024

'A dark, compelling and beguiling novel of revenge, guilt and love – Ellie Keel is a dazzling new voice’ Kate Mosse

‘An intensely gripping, thrilling and darkly beautiful debut. I was...

Available Editions

ISBN 9780008580360
PRICE £7.99 (GBP)

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Average rating from 303 members

Featured Reviews

I requested this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review, I was pleasantly surprised when someone from Harper Collins got in touch to tell me i had been gifted it. It is usually an email from Netgalley, so this made it a little more special!

Honestly... I devoured it! The first few chapters are a little slow, but stick with it, its amazing! Once you learn who all the characters are, there are quiet a few main ones in this which at first was a little daunting, but its easy enough to grasp who's mean and who's nice.

I think my favourite character has to be Rose, she's the narrater of the story and i really like the way Keel has written her into it. She's independent, loyal to her friends yet at the same time cautious and unsure of herself. I loved that she built as a character throughout the book too, it felt like the reader grew with her as she discovered who she was.

Marta, well, another great character all on her own, how much crap can one person deal with in their lives was how I think the story got me feeling. I felt so sorry for her all the way through it, even when she was loosing the plot and being a b***h.

The boys were also well written, and I think by the end of it even I hated Gerald and wanted to kill him! I struggle with storylines and plots like this one as I find myself getting angrier even though its only fiction. Too much of it occurs in normal life that to read about it happening too makes me moody. But I understood the reason for it being in there and it was a powerful peace of fiction.

I don't want to write too much about the story because its well worth the read for anyone who enjoys a bit of mystery, romance, intrigue and teen fiction. The baseline flows that four friends meet at a private boarding school, the usual mean girls of the house dominate and the clever ones get abused. This book really does have a bit of everything, from suicide, physical and mental abuse to gay relationships, rape and death. There are lots of twists and turns and I found the book really good at bringing inclusion into a piece of fiction.

Would I have pushed Genevieve? Too right.. Would I have let Gerald get away with what he did? Hell no! Would I have wanted 3 amazing friends like Rose, Sami and Lloyd? Most definitely!

I was worried at first I wouldn't get into this, but I'm so glad I stuck with it! Its a very good piece of writing from Ellie Keel and I look forward to what she brings out in the future.

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The Four is Ellie Keel’s shockingly powerful debut. Billed as a dark academia novel Keel’s The Four is a raw and unflinching exploration of the nature and implications of actions and their consequences. It’s a story rooted in the many facets of human nature; from love, friendship and absolute loyalty, to the more depraved, with wicked cruelty and abusive behaviour malevolently present. It may not be for the faint of heart, but I’d still argue it’s not one to be missed.

The Four is the story of four students who have been given full ride scholarships to an elite boarding school in Devon back in 1999. They are outsiders upon their arrival, shunned by most and targeted by a select few. Of the four it is Rose who is our narrator, and she tries to explain to us what happened all those years ago. Memory, however, as we well know can be tricky, especially when it is so shaped by trauma.

The Four is one of those rare kind of books where you feel as though you simply cannot put it down and yet you are simultaneously terrified to find out what is going to happen next. It is hard to say too much about the plot as it would spoil the experience of reading it to do so, but I will say that there are serious content warnings to consider. The nature and tone of Keel’s novel is extremely dark and at times I was genuinely shocked by its events, and yet it never felt arduous to read which I think is a huge credit to Keel.

Rooted in the novel is the institutionalised nature of power, prestige and violence, and the ways in which adults may often turn a blind eye to it, and in some cases perpetuate it. The vivid setting of High Realms created the perfect bubble, where its inhabitants were far enough away from reality that their rules and self governance makes sense in context. We are left with young adults who, in this unique environment, are dealing with issues way beyond their capacity for control as though they are the adults; the consequences of which are monumental.

This really is a powerhouse of a novel and even more so when considering it’s a debut. I cannot wait to see what Keel writes next.

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I really enjoyed reading this thriller. I love reading novels about English boarding schools and this novel did not disappoint. It helped that thrilling thrillers are my favourite genre to read. This novel was tense, dark and it had an exciting storyline.
It was full of secrets, lies and mystery. I liked the boarding school as a location, liked all the main characters and their complicated relationships and liked the author’s writing style.
I also liked discovering a brand new author for me whose writing I like. I cannot wait to read more novels by the author in the future.
I’m giving this novel 5 stars as I’m sure other readers will like it too especially if they’re fans of thrillers.

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One of my all time favourite settings for a story is in a school. This has always seemed particularly strange to me as in my day job I work in a school so you would think that I would want to escape from that setting. The thing is that when a school setting is explored well - and believe me Ellie Keel has done this very well - it does become escapism…just not in the relaxing way.

The Four is the story of four young scholarship students who have won the educational lottery. They get to attend one of the most elite schools for free. Here they will make friends and rub shoulders with some of the most important people of the future cultivating relationships that they can use as they grow older. What they soon realise though is that they will always be "other" and will not fit in with the wealthy elite and due to this their lives are made increasingly difficult by their peer and their educators. It is sink or swim for these four teenagers but will the drive to succeed come at a deadly cost.

Ellie Keel has done a masterful job of showing how hierarchy and privilege can be so detrimental and hurtful and this is one of the ways in which I feel that Keel has presented the school setting so well. Whilst my school is not an elite academy you still see these social rules even today.

What's more is that Keel keeps you on the edge of your seat praying for the underdogs to succeed. She really makes you care for these characters. Equally, she shows the reader that where you start off in life doesn't always have to be your destination.

I was so eager and excited to read The Four. It was one of the books I was most looking forward to and it did not disappoint.

The Four by Ellie Keel is available now.

For more information regarding Ellie Keel (@elliekeel1) please visit her Twitter page.

For more information regarding HQ (@HQstories) please visit

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I've read this in just over 24 hours. I physically couldn't stop myself reading it. I felt emotionally attached to Rose, Marta and many other characters. As many twist unfolded I couldn't stop gasping.
It was an easy read and flowed really well

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I really enjoyed the Four by Ellie Keel. It was gripping read. It had many twists and turns which had me racing through it could not put it down.

4 friends are accepted in the a prestigious school on a full scholarship. The four are bullied by their fellow students. Which had brought the 4 closer together. The situation then takes a dark turn how far are these 4 willing to go to protect each other.

I would highly recommend this really enjoyable read which will have you hooked from the very first page. My thanks to netgalley and the publisher for my copy.

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This novel is vivid, visceral and unrelentingly addictive. I read it all in one sitting over a few hours and was left exhausted, melancholy and book hungover.

I mean really, what more can you ask of a book than it pulling you in, making you think, taking you through the full gamut of emotional range then dumping you out the other side with characters and events you'll never forget.

The writing is IMMENSE, heart wrenching and complex and this should be a HUGE hit in '24.

Pitch perfect thought provoking brilliance

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Slick, smart and shocking… this is dark academia at its very darkest - a must read. @mrscookesbooks

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