Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake | Review

The paperback and hardback editions of Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake

4 Stars

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.”

“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 . . . its life or death. The night the sisters turn sixteen, the battle begins.
The last queen standing gets the crown.” (Summary from Goodreads)

I received two copies of Three Dark Crowns in October last year. The black hardcover was a part of Owlcrate’s ‘Darkness’ box and the paperback came in The YA Chronicles ‘You Win Or You Die’ box. This was the first time I purchased two book subscription boxes in a month, and was surprised to get the same book, although I know realise how common that is. However, since the covers are different, I don’t really mind. Plus Owlcrate’s came with a signed book plate and letter from the author so that was really cool. However, I prefer to read paperbacks, as they are lighter to carry around so I am quite happy to have both editions.

Full unboxing of the October Owlcrate Darkness box, containing its hardback copy of Three Dark Crowns and the misc. bookish items received with it.
Owlcrate October ‘Darkness’ Unboxing

I had no expectations going into Three Dark Crowns, I’d never heard of the book, but after reading the blurb on the book I was incredibly intrigued by the book’s premise. I was completely drawn into the world where three sisters are born with incredible gifts (or so we initially think) and are destined to kill each other. That part just breaks my heart, sisters having to kill each other; in fact, they are encouraged to do so.

Mild spoilers ahead, so please keep that in mind.

Full unboxing of the October The Ya Chronicles 'You Win or You Die' box with its copy of Three Dark Crowns beside it, along with all the other bookish items that were received.
The YA Chronicles October ‘You Win Or You Die’ Unboxing

Initially when I started Three Dark Crowns I thought it was a standalone, so I was completely outraged by the cliffhanger ending, until I turned the page and saw there was an excerpt for the sequel One Dark Throne, I think I breathed a deep sigh of relief.

The pacing was a bit slow, but I didn’t mind, nor noticed most of the time because I was too enthralled with what was happening, and I think the slow lead up helped to build the suspense and mystery surrounding the tournament and the different girls. It was important to take the time to get to know the girls and to get an idea of their upbringing, because that had a big role in shaping the person they are. I also enjoyed the fact there were multiple POV, it was a very important aspect of the story, being able to know what was happening around the island and in the lives of the sisters. While some sisters had better chapters than others, by the end you realise how important they all were.

Mirabella was by far my favourite sister, it was actually quite sad to reading about the other regions rumors about her. They would say that she was a crazy and power hungry queen, and she is the complete opposite. She’s sweet, caring and the only sister to remember anything from the few year they were together, therefore, the only one who has the ability to win and isn’t trying to come up with the best plan to hurt her sisters. Also, her abilities as an elemental are phenomenal and hands down my favourite out of all the gifts.

Then there is Katherine, the poisoner queen. The poor thing has the absolute worst upbringing, being raised by the Arron’s (the most powerful family of poisoners the island has ever seen), constantly being “tested” with continuous poisonings to the point where she is so frail, weak and her body is constantly covered in some sort of rash or boils. However, no matter how hard the try, she is a weak queen and she should be able to handle the mildest of poisons, they make her ill for weeks. She was definitely the most interesting of the sisters to read about, with the training and the politics surrounding her it was incredibly different from her sisters and I always looked forward to her chapters.

Finally, there is Arsinoe (also what kind of name is that), which I have absolutely no idea how to pronounce. She was the least “queen” like of all the sisters. She’s a tomboy, who is always shearing her hair constantly keeping it short, much to the anguish of her guardians. She like her sister Katherine is considered gift-less in her region of naturalists. She can’t even manage to get rosebuds to bloom, or her familiar to appear. Whilst her best friend Jules is the strongest naturalist the island has seen in sixty years. But Arsinoe really irritated me; her “I don’t care” demeanor, which I guess to make her exude toughness, was just overtly cliché. She also kept trying to run away (well sail away) from the island, even after the catastrophic consequences from her first attempt. Her chapters just weren’t as great, and definitely felt like they dragged on.

“Her whole life they have thought her a failure, yet at the first hint of hope, they move to follow her, as if it is what they wanted all along. Perhaps it was.”

The power struggle between the Black Council and the temple was intriguing, seeing the different ways they went about their politics and training was intense. Whilst the Black Council is incredibly cruel and keeps a hold of the capital with an iron will, the temple is not as pleasant as one would expect. They make their priestesses denounce any gifts or familiars they have, which is just cruel. Speaking of cruel, I don’t think I can ever think of them kindly after the punishment they doled out to one of the nicest characters. It hurt my heart.

That ending though, the ending made it all worth the slow meandering points, because wow. It was intense; I definitely want to get my hands on the sequel because I have to know where it goes from here.

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Also, they recently released the cover for the One Dark Throne, and its release date is the 19th of September 2017, I can’t wait.

Cover of Three Dark Crowns sequel One Dark Throne
Photo Credit: Goodreads

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