Three Dark Crowns is about triplet queens, Katherine, Mirabella and Arsinoe, who are separated in their tweens and trained to kill each other in their teens so one can ascend the throne. If this sounds horrific trust me there are some other things in the book that are even more horrific. But the story isn’t as bad-ass as it sounds. I went into this expecting them to be swashbuckling characters, throwing fire, killing people by getting them caught in thorny rose bushes and poisoning someone with a scratch of their nail but that doesn’t happen. Nope. Well fire gets thrown about but nothing else happens.
Katharine is a waifish little queen who is almost powerless against poisons even though she is said to be a fearsome poisoner. Apart from this she is a little needs and whiny. Not to be blamed for it however since the people in charge of her are quite awful but she isn’t someone I could root for.
Mirabella is someone I LOVED from page one. She is powerful and loyal and strong but on the negative side she has no spine. People can treat her like crap despite her powers because they know she won’t do anything. She won’t even rise up to defend someone she cares about unless pushed very far.
Arsinoe has absolutely NO faults (in my eyes because I’m rooting for her). She is loyal and caring and will do anything for the people she cares about. But she has no powers. Even though people have spread a rumour that she is very powerful so as to scare the other queens, she doesn’t actually have powers.
My lovely friend, Aditi from A Thousand Words A Million Books, and I did a buddy read of this and we felt the same way about everything! We both expected this to be about badass characters who destroy everyone around them but it isn’t so I’m giving you a little more info for you to arm yourself with.
You might think I’m giving you spoilers but no, these are things you get to know right off the bat. So don’t go into the story thinking they’re all going to be like Avatar characters who can manipulate elements and are super badass and powerful, because they are but not just yet.
We follow each queen, jumping from POV to POV, and watch as they struggle to maintain the composure, come to terms with having to kill one another and struggle to accept the fact that they might die. And when you see the humane side of two of these queens (Mirabella and Katherine) you are left helpless about whom to root for.
I struggled a lot with the beginning portions of this because some idiot told me this was like a YA Avatar meet GOT and that is NOT what it is. It is its own book and while some things are similar (element control and fighting for a throne) the rest are not. Kendare Blake makes up for the lack of world building with her characterisation. Each has their flaws but each has their strengths and these things redeem them in the eyes of the reader making them feel like proper humans that we might know in real life (if our real lives were as cool as this world). And she definitely handles the POVs well without getting you confused. Did I say the pacing was great? She manages to start off with a slow boil till you’re frantically almost ripping at the pages in your hurry to know WHAT THE HELL HAPPENS!
I don’t want to wait a few more months to read book two! I don’t! Publish the story now! I insist! (and make Arsinoe win)
To sum up, this is for YA fans only. If you don’t like YA you won’t like this so don’t read GOT and LOTR and expect the world building or the character development to be as good or as detailed as that. But if you enjoy YA, this is one of the more interesting YA books I’ve read this year with a twist that you won’t expect. Of course in hindsight the twist was obvious but it does throw you and gets you ravenous for the next book.
*I was very generously sent a review copy after requesting it but opinions expressed here are my own.
Three sisters. One crown. A fight to the death.
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.