Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake
Average Goodreads rating: 3.85/5
My Rating: 3.5/5
Overall, this was a quick and enjoyable read. It was a fairly unique YA fantasy novel, and darker than many fantasy I’ve encountered before. Typically, the first book in any series is one of the weaker books. I anticipate this series to get better with each new book. I can’t wait to pick up the next in the series, coming out September 2017.
On a magical island ran by a matriarch, queens are always born in sets of triplets. These triplets each possess a magical gift, corresponding to one of the three sectors of power on the island. The first queen, Katherine, is born to the poisons. Poisons can create elaborate poisons but they can also consume poison with no consequence. The second queen, Arsinoe, is a naturalist. Naturalists have the ability to control nature. They can make plants grow and have extraordinary relationships with animals. The final sector, home of queen Mirabella, is home to the elementals. Elementals can control the elements by creating fires, storms, and altering the weather. In the tradition of the island, when the queens reach the age of sixteen, they must fight to the death in order to see who will reign next.
- The premise is extremely unique. A fight to the death among future queens? Sign me up. It’s basically Hunger Games: Princess Edition.
- The dark imagery. There is a quiet tension that builds throughout the story, much of it coming from the creepy bits of imagery. A beautiful blue-and-green Deathstalker scorpion is pinned to his right lapel. It is still slightly alive. Its legs writhe sluggishly. These subtle dark moments build as the book goes on. The further you get into the book, the more gruesome the descriptions become, hinting to the reader danger is on the horizon. This makes me super excited for what’s to come in the sequels.
- The three main protagonists are each flawed, unique individuals. I think fans of this book will fan themselves debating which of the girls should win this fight to the death. Each girl has her redeeming qualities and her pitfalls. It makes it easy for the reader to find someone to relate to and to root for.
- The ending was fantastic, and the clues that got us there were perfectly placed. The final pages of this book leave the reader with a serious plot twist. Some may argue that it is obvious, but I thought it was perfect. There were subtle hints throughout the story pointing to this moment, but I was never totally certain of the final outcome. I also felt the way she revealed the twist was so clever. It leaves the reader with many questions to anticipate going into the next book. There are many directions she could take the sequel and I’m excited to go along for the ride.
- It starts out slow. The first third to half of the book was extremely slow. While Blake spends time world building and introducing the different characters, not a whole lot happens. The three girls are basically training and flirting with various love interests. However, I find this is fairly typical of series and I don’t anticipate this to be an issue in the rest of the series.
- There are so many characters! Man I felt like I needed a guide of who all the characters were. With there being three different queens, each with their own love interests, friends, and community, it became a little difficult to keep everyone straight. More than once I paused while reading this and seriously contemplated starting a list of who everyone was and how they were each related.
- There’s a love triangle. Yup, another YA book with a love triangle as a central story line. For the most part, I honestly didn’t mind it in this book. It did help to drive the story along and for once it was a boy with two different girls he was falling for instead of vice versa (which, seriously, isn’t that more like real life?). However, I know many of us are sick of seeing this trope used and recycled over and over again.
Overall, I really enjoyed this book. The world building is incredible, the characters are interesting, and the premise is super original and intriguing. I’d recommend this book not only to fantasy fans, but those who love gothic romance, like Edgar Allan Poe. I’d even probably recommend this to Dystopian fans. We can see the inklings of a corrupt government story line emerging and I think it will play a much more prominent role the rest of the series. I will most likely be buying the sequel the day hits shelves.