Three Dark Crowns #1
by Kendare Blake
Published on September 20, 2016 by HarperTeen
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
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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.
If only it was that simple. Katharine is unable to tolerate the weakest poison, and Arsinoe, no matter how hard she tries, can’t make even a weed grow. The two queens have been shamefully faking their powers, taking care to keep each other, the island, and their powerful sister Mirabella none the wiser. But with alliances being formed, betrayals taking shape, and ruthless revenge haunting the queens’ every move, one thing is certain: the last queen standing might not be the strongest…but she may be the darkest.
Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake is a dark fantasy that follows three sisters and their journey to killing each other. When I had first read the synopsis for this, I fell in love. I already love many of Kendare’s novel, so it wasn’t a surprise to me that I wanted to read this one as well. While reading it, I kept going back and forth on what I wanted to rate it. On one hand, I already knew that Kendare’s style was a very slow paced plot progression, but on the other hand I kept wanting it to get to the festival already. I read a few reviews to see how others felt about it and saw a lot about the pace from them as well. However, I still really enjoyed Three Dark Crowns!
Every chapter switches to a new sister. The first sister we get a glimpse of is Katharine. She’s described as weak and sickly. Kendare causes the reader to believe from the beginning that Katharine is the underdog, that she is someone to watch. We also meet two sisters of the Arron family, the family who runs the council. We see that the poisoners are people who are very hard, cold, and unflinching individuals. They look down upon weakness. And Queen Katharine is as weak as they can get. I was surprised at the way the Arron sisters treated Katharine. Despite being Queen, Katharine was treated with very little respect.
Second, we meet Jules and Queen Arsinoe. Jules is the strongest Naturalist on Wolf Spring, and she is Arsinoe’s teacher. We learn that Arsinoe is also a giftless Queen like her sister Katharine. But we also see the difference between the Naturalists and the Poisoners. The Naturalists still treat Arsinoe like a Queen. They may be disappointed in her, but they rarely speak ill towards her, even if they may speak ill about her. And the difference between Jules (Arsinoe’s teacher) and Natalia (Katharine’s Teacher) is astounding as well. Arsinoe and Jules are best friends, they do everything with each other. Katharine and Natalia have this Aunt and Niece relationship…Where Natalia is the cold and mean Aunt, not the cool and nice one.
And lastly, we meet Queen Mirablella and get exposed to the Priestesses of the Temple. Mirabella is not like her sisters. Mirabella is gifted, and she has a very strong gift. She’s controlled by the Temple though. She follows their every command. She trusts them. She trusts them when she probably shouldn’t. The entire time while Mirabella is having dreams of violently killing her sisters and coming to the terms with what will happen in a matter of months, the Arrons and the Temple are plotting against each other, each side wanting command of the council. The Island. This leads to all three sides using all of these different methods to make their Queen look strong to the Citizens.
The entire second half of the book definitely picks up pace, we get through the days leading up to Beltane, the festival where each Queen shows off their power and how strong they are. During these days, new characters get introduced, pasts get revealed and we see the full extent of how far each side will go to protect their Queen. But the ending…the ending was the absolute best part. The twists revealed were so shocking, my jaw literally dropped open. I am definitely going to read the sequel, it actually can’t come out quick enough. I need to know what is going to happen to each sister and how the backlash of the final chapter is going to happen.