Personal Thoughts: Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake was hands down one of my most anticipated reads of 2016. I had listened to Kendare talking about her inspiration for the book in a podcast I listened to at the end of 2015 (which attracted my interest because I loved Anna Dressed in Blood so much) and I was immediately like YES I NEED THIS. She said that she came up with the premise for Three Dark Crowns when she heard about the way that bees choose their Queen- they give birth to potential Queen’s who fight to the death until the last one left standing takes over the hive as a ruler. She thought about how that would be an interesting story, especially if applied to humans. Yep, you probably want to read this book now too.
Plot Summary: Triplet sisters who were separated at the age of six must battle it out and be the last girl alive to take over the island of Fennbirn as Queen. There’s Katharine- the poisoner, Mirabella- the elemental and Arsinoe- the naturalist. The battle occurs once the girl turn sixteen and that’s pretty much all you need to know!
Critique: Three Dark Crowns is a much more politically driven novel than I had previously been expecting. I ended up loving the story despite having heard some negative reviews early on which is why it took me so long to start reading it. I did not want to be disappointed and thankfully, I wasn’t! Blake spent a good portion of the novel setting up the world and the three sub-worlds for the reader. I found the differences between the different areas of the island fascinating and I was immediately invested in Katharine, the poisoner’s, story. I also enjoyed Mirabella who is the strongest of the triplets as well as the only girl to have had memories of her sisters and reservations about what they must do to take over the Queendom. The only queen I wasn’t completely on board with was Arsinoe until the ending when everything got a whole lot more interesting. I had heard complaints that there are too many characters to keep track of but I would have to respectfully disagree. I liked that each girl has her own very fleshed out world and it’s going to make the conclusion, One Dark Throne, that much harder to read because I’m partial to more than one of them! The only element that seemed to be lacking for me was the romance which I was totally okay with because this female dominated society was more than enough to hold my interest.
Do I Recommend?: I do! The reviews are very polarizing on this one so you should read it for yourself to see where you fall. If you struggle with slower burn fantasy, I might not suggest reading it but I’m betting there will be a ton of payoff in One Dark Throne.
Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly series hosted by Breaking the Spine that spotlights upcoming releases we’re eagerly awaiting. This week I’m choosing Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake. Ever since I read Anna Dressed in Blood (and it’s sequel Girl of Nightmares) I knew that I would be reading all of Kendare Blake’s books. I listened to her recent episode on the First Draft podcast which is how I found out about Three Dark Queens. The premise is fascinating and when I heard Kendare’s inspiration behind it I was even more convinced that this is a Kristin book. In an interview with Hypable, Kendare explained her inspiration coming from “how the queen bee will leave her hive and lay some queen eggs, and whichever queen hatches first kills the others and gets to take over the old hive. And I thought…rad. How can I make people do that?” In addition to the cover reveal last week, artwork of a map of the world by Virginia Allyn was also released and it’s stunning. Also look at the cover! I’m hoping / guessing that the design of each crown is based on the region each potential queen was raised. They remind me of Rapunzel, the Fire Nation and The Jungle Book respectively.
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. (via Goodreads)