This book was sent for free by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect our opinion of the book or the content of our review.Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake
Published by HarperTeen on September 20th 2016
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Amazon ♡ Chapters ♡ TBD
Fans of acclaimed author Kendare Blake’s Anna Dressed in Blood will devour her latest novel, a dark and inventive fantasy about three sisters who must fight to the death to become queen.
In every generation on the island of Fennbirn, a set of triplets is born: three queens, all equal heirs to the crown and each possessor of a coveted magic. Mirabella is a fierce elemental, able to spark hungry flames or vicious storms at the snap of her fingers. Katharine is a poisoner, one who can ingest the deadliest poisons without so much as a stomachache. Arsinoe, a naturalist, is said to have the ability to bloom the reddest rose and control the fiercest of lions.
But becoming the Queen Crowned isn’t solely a matter of royal birth. Each sister has to fight for it. And it’s not just a game of win or lose...it’s life or death. The night the sisters turn sixteen, the battle begins.
The last queen standing gets the crown.
I was dying to get my hands on this book, so much so that I preordered one of the alternative covers from Waterstones, specifically the one with the flaming crown. The premise sounded kickass, a dark and twisty battle between three sisters, each with her own power. With such high expectations, the reality was made just that much worse for me. Guys, I was bored.
Which is why I DNF’d at 36%. Honestly, now that I’m studying, I have very little time for reading, and I decided it was better to spend that time reading books I was actually enjoying, not just ones I wanted to enjoy. (And guys, I really, really wanted to love this.)
First, the good. I loved the powers. There were five different types of gifts: naturalist, elemental, poisoning, war and sight. The latter two were rare, so when each queen gave birth to a set of triplets, they would typically consist of a Naturalist, an Elemental and a Poisoner. I also liked how none of the powers were good or evil in essence but could be wielded to do good or do evil. Personally, I was torn between having the ability to control elements (YESSSS FIRE) and talk to animals, something I’ve wished I could do since I was young. (Actually, that’s a lie. Elemental control beats all.) Before going in, I couldn’t see how naturalists (who can talk to animals) or poisoners (who can withstand any poison) could win against the elementals.
BUT. This book was slooooow and really confusing at times. I expected a lot more action a lot quicker, but nothing happened for so long. Too much time was spent illustrating that all three girls were either too weak or too nice to kill others. The chapters about Arsinoe were the worst, with really bizarre tangents that didn’t seem to fit into the overall tale for a long time. The POV didn’t help either, as chapters kept switching focus on the three queens, but not from the queens’ perspectives necessarily. I found myself starting chapters thinking they were from a queen’s perspective only to find out they were from her friend’s. The sheer number of characters didn’t help either, as names were briefly introduced one chapter, and by the time they were mentioned again later when returning to that queen, I’d forgotten who they were, made worse by the way the author seemed to expect us to know the character intimately.
Oh, and the romance was Not Good. I didn’t buy the whole Jules/Joseph thing. I felt NADA. In fact, it felt like really bad insta-love even though they’d known each other as children. I imagine something was also brewing on Katherine’s front, but I didn’t like that either. Basically, there was no book boyfriend potential in the first third of the book, even though people were supposedly falling in love with each other. And you know I usually go easy on the romance because I love me some loving.
When things started getting just a bit too wacky, confusing and outlandish, I gave up. Other books and schoolwork suddenly outweighed my need to know what happened in the rest of the book, so I asked Jamie for a spoiler summary and decided I was done. And honestly, based on what Jamie told me, even though she liked the book overall, I think it would have been too much for me.
(BTW, THIS NEVER HAPPENS. At least with fantasies. Jamie is usually more picky than I am!)
I really enjoyed this one. I thought there were some slow parts and I’m super sad that one of the triplets didn’t end up being a lesbian (because there were hints!! and then it was just being straight again. #sadJamie). But there is so much excitement for the next book and I’m really looking forward to the rest of this series!
I really liked all the sisters, but my heart is with Kat. She was so fierce and did everything she had to in order to survive. I mean, she literally poisoned herself even though her gift was really weak and it caused her to be sick. If that’s not BAMF behaviour, IDK what is. I feel like even though I liked her the most, she was the most overlooked. She was right smack in the middle of her sisters and, to her, the only reason she stood out was because she was under the Arron rule.
I thought the other sisters were interesting but I would have been more interested in Mira if she had ended up being a lesbian, not View Spoiler »sleeping with Joseph just to cause unnecessary drama between Mira/Jules/Arsinoe. « Hide Spoiler The scene in question (that is under spoiler) was so awkward and didn’t feel natural AT ALL. It served literally just to create angst and issues tbh. I rolled my eyes the whole time and my heart was shattered because I thought she had something special with Elizabeth.
The pacing was really slow but it added to such meticulous and intricate back story and world building that I didn’t really mind that much. I was a little weary at about 32% because I wanted it to go a bit faster but I ended up really enjoying the pace since I got to spend a lot of time with the sisters and learn to love them before they were to be killed. Now that the ceremony is over and anyone could die at any time, I am WORRIED. I also thought that the ending was really quick. Too much happened in too short a period of time. But the View Spoiler »twist at the end was no surprise to me. I thought that was the case at 66%. Sarah pointed out to me that Kat had a naturalist ability that I didn’t even catch while I was making my guess about the ending « Hide Spoiler.
I thought the main magic that the girls wielded was really well explained and thought out but I had a bit of a hard time with the Island containing all the magic. I thought it wasn’t really explained as to why the girls couldn’t leave the mainland and the whole “fog” thing was just an awkward way of keeping them there in my opinion. I have high hopes that there will be more of an explanation in the next book but I am still a little cautious about it tbh.
THREE DARK CROWNS does leave me with LOTS of questions though!! And I am SUPER looking forward to the sequel but I fear I have read this one too early because now I have OVER A YEAR to wait for the sequel (since I read it in July). I highly recommend this one. It’s an intricate look at familial relationships, magic, and what it means to really be a leader and I loved it. Plus Kat.