Title: Three Dark Crowns
Author: Kendare Blake
Series(?): Three Dark Crowns (#1)
Publisher: Pan Macmillan
Publication Date: September 22nd 2016
Source & Format: Bought on Book Depository, Paperback
Page Count: 407
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.
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.
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Three Dark Queens
are born in a glen,
sweet little triplets
will never be friends
Three Dark Sisters,
all fair to be seen,
two to devour and
one to be queen.
I don’t want any of the queens to be devoured, however, because I love them all. Three Dark Crowns was an incredible story, and knowing Kendare Blake’s wonderful prose from her Anna series, I knew she wouldn’t disappoint in this first installment in this new series. My excitement for One Dark Throne is real, and I cannot wait to see where this series is taken to next.
Three Dark Crowns pits sister against sister and constantly debates whether you are family by blood or by the connections you make. Each queen is also going through their own personal set of problems throughout the novel while the main story arc continues of preparing for the Beltane Festival. At the Beltane Festival, the queens will have to prove themselves before the fight can begin.
The plot was slow at first but it definitely did build up and oh my, did it surprise me. My reactions that I’ve written down in my notebook are full of YAS and HE’S A AWHDFIEGWH and OMG SHE’S A AHHHHH. You know a book is good when they can draw out reactions like that.
The entire premise of the novel was astounding too. I really loved the sinister nursery rhyme and the meaning behind it, giving the reader a chill right before starting the story. I was also happy to see one of my theories come true right at the end, I was debating whether I was right but once it was revealed, I cheered and jumped for joy! But speaking of that ending, I was screaming. I wanted One Dark Throne right then and there. (ONLY ONE AND A HALF MONTHS TO GO) If I see that book, my eyes will be wide open and I will reach to grab it.
Shoutout for well-developed characters!
I love a book when even the smallest of characters is given a bit of character development and some backstory. It allows me to get to know the character and care for them at least a little. The PoV of the novel was also quite different, instead of focusing on specific characters, the PoV was focused on the area. It felt like a ‘group’ perspective and I felt through this, we had none of the awkward introduction phases and rather, we were immediately immersed in the book.
Katherine, the poisoner (hahaha, is she really though?) who can’t digest even the smallest of poisons without feeling sick definitely went through a lot of issues. Her wanting to impress people was slowly killing her throughout and I still believe it is. However, this is partially due to the pressure that’s placed on her right from the very outset and it’s not only her who has pressure but all of the queens.
And after Beltane is over, we will have the pleasure of watching our queen deliciously poison her sisters.
Arsinoe (which sounds like Arsenic, in my opinion), the naturalist has no power whatsoever. However, her main power was her humour because I found her to be quite hilarious at points. However, while Arsinoe was one of my favourite queens, I hold an undeniable hate for someone who is introduced in her arc, Joseph Sandrin. He is one massive jerk and he needs to go eat one of those candies from Billy’s father. Now, Billy and Jules were sweet characters and I hope they stay sweet in the sequel! Also, can I mention that Arsinoe pulls off one of the most amazing fashion choices? GO ARSINOE!
Finally Mirabella, the elemental has got to be one of the most kind-hearted but fierce people of this book. She’s such a smol bean and I hope that she doesn’t lose faith in her sisters. Throughout the novel, Mirabella has acted as the counter to the idea of the Queens fighting and as the most popular queen, it’s quite poignant that it’s Mirabella who doesn’t want to kill her sisters. Mirabella could easily win at this point, but she decides not to and I find that honourable of her.
The sisters she loved at the Black Cottage are gone. Arsinoe saw her chance and she took it. So next time, Mirabella will take hers as well.
The battle is going to be fierce. (who else is secretly hoping for a dragon?)
Fennbirn is glorious, and I hope it doesn’t Fenn-burn!
Apart from my horrible pun, Fennbirn is amazing. The map is so beautiful and detailed, I love the artistry and the layout of the land. The ‘government’ and the system in which the Queens work is very intriguing but I’m also interested in the role the mainland has to play. I hope that in One Dark Throne, we’ll be able to see more of what the mainland is and why they don’t have magic.
It was also very amazing to see how the traditions work and the structure of the calendar in Fennbirn. The societal constructs and the matriarchal-focused society was refreshing to see in this as well and I cannot wait to see more of it.
Speaking of magic, the system in which magic works is very intriguing since there are the three types that the Queens have, other gifts that are forbidden or rare and then low magic. Low magic is useful but like Rumplestiltskin says…
Overall, Three Dark Crowns was a great story of a concept I’ve never seen before. With great world building, character development and plot, Kendare Blake manages to tell a tale full of struggles, affection and the meaning of wanting to kill your siblings. (I’ve considered it once or twice. I want more room for bookshelves, you know?)
About the Author
Kendare Blake is originally from South Korea, but was brought up in the United States. She has a BA in Business from Ithaca College in New York and an MA in Writing from Middlesex University in London. She is the author of Anna Dressed in Blood, Girl of Nightmares and Antigoddess, all published by Orchard Books. Kendare Blake lives with her husband in Kent, Washington.
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Have you read Three Dark Crowns? If so, which Queen are you supporting? I think I’ll be #TeamArsinoe for now until One Dark Throne tries to change my mind!
If you haven’t read it, which power sounds most intriguing to you? Poisoner, Elementalist or Naturalist?