Book Review: Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake

Book Synopsis

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.

2.5 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.

Three Dark Crowns was such a mixed read for me. The cover is absolutely gorgeous, the concept dark and alluring, and I was so, so excited when it came in my September OwlCrate. Sadly, the actual story left a lot to be desired. I was never really that interested in what actually happened to the characters and the writing was less than stellar. The story definitely a slow start, and I have seen quite a few others say that they almost DNF as well, but in my opinion it doesn’t even really pick up towards the end. It is also written in present tense, which in this case served to detract even further from the writing style.

Although the characters were all unique, I never really felt connected to any of them. I think this stems from how much we jump around, only spending a few moments with each major and side character, instead of any significant time with one character. I felt bad for Katherine and what she had to go through, it seemed like Arsinoe was pretty happy go lucky, and Mirabella was an odd mix of compassion and reluctant power, but that is about as connected as I felt to the main characters. The side characters had almost as much page time as the three main characters though, and I was much more interested in Jules and Luca and was curious to see how they would handle things. It actually felt more as though it were Jules’ and Jospeh’s story at times, than the Queens’. I knew them better and connected more with the side characters than the three main characters.

So much time in the beginning was spent on small things, building the world and getting to know the characters, without any actual plot points taking place. The world in itself is  intriguing and the idea of triplet queens each with their own gift was fascinating, though many parts of it felt forced and the plot holes were far too big to leap. (Especially, the romances – why does everyone have to have one – and many of the conversations.)

The ending was good, but it felt like it should have been the mid-point of the book instead of leaving us in the middle of the first major action concerning a main character in the story. I saw the twist coming from a mile away (almost from the first page in fact) and though it was really interesting, I would much rather have had the whole story paced well in one book, rather than being spread out and milked over the course of a series.

This review may sound more negative than positive, but I think that Three Dark Crowns is still worth reading, especially if you are just delving into this genre for the first time. The world is interesting and I did like reading about the characters’ interactions with each other and their gifts, or lack thereof. However, at this point I would have to have a really strong recommendation for me to continue on with the series.

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