Title: Three Dark Crowns (Three Dark Crowns #1)
Author: Kendare Blake
“Crowns are no longer won, they are made, through politics and alliances.”
I absolutely LOVED the overall vibe of the book. It was dark and twisted and filled with backstabbing and schemes. In the story we follow triplet queens, each gifted with a special kind of magic: Katharine, the poisoner queen, Arsinoe, the naturalist queen; and Mirabella, the elemental queen. On their 16th birthday, they begin a magical fight to the death to become the ruling queen of Fennbirn, an isolated island nation. The characters were the highlight of the story to me, with so many distinct personalities and hidden motivations, they created a vibrant world.
Things I Liked :
I really loved the magic system in the story. I like that each sister is gifted in one style of magic, and lived with a mentor family to develop their talents. Each representative mentor family really helped create a world, and showcased their magic style incredibly well. They were like their own little mini cultures within the story – each valuing things differently and acting differently. I’ve never seen Poisoner magic before and I loved how aggressive and passionate the poisoner people were. They had this charged electricity that really drew me in. The Naturalist magic was really cool, because it was really connected to poisoner magic (plant based), but it was like two sides of the same coin. I also loved that they had familiars. Animals are always a plus. And Elemental magic is one of my favorite magic types. I just love the idea of something as uncontrollable as storms, lightning, or wind being harnessed.
I LIVE for all of the scheming and manipulating in this story. A political story without schemes and manipulations is no fun in my opinion. There was so much plotting and underhandedness that my inner Slytherin was very happy. It seemed like there was always something more beneath whatever was being said or done. Motives were shifting and unclear and left me craving more.
This story had some pretty fantastic characters too. I actually loved all three queens. Arsinoe was probably my favorite, she is so sarcastic and had some great self-deprecating humor. Also, her friendship with Jules is #goals – They would literally do anything for each other and support one another wholeheartedly. Katharine is so determined, she demands to be more than what she is perceived as, and it’s inspiring. Mirabella is a contradiction – she is obviously the most powerful of the three, but the one who wants to win the least. She really just loves her sisters, and doesn’t want anything to happen to them. The group from Wolf Spring (Arsinoe, Jules, Billy, & Joseph) was my favorite. And I irrationally loved Pietyr, even though he’s kinda trash.
This book isn’t afraid to go there. There are definitely some dark moments and serious consequences for character’s actions. Bad things happen and characters screw up. This really helps create an anything-can-happen feeling in the story.
Things I Didn’t Like :
I would have liked some more history about Fennbirn. How did the magic groups become so divided over time? Was there a war or pure desire for power? (PS: I would have liked to see warrior magic or sight magic characters, if only briefly to help establish the other magic types) Why are the other 2 magic groups so uncommon? What is Fennbirn’s relationship to the mainland? I feel like more information about the history of Fennbirn and it’s people could have only helped the story.
It took too long to clearly establish what exactly happens during the competition. From the beginning of the story all of these terms (Beltane, Quickening, Year of Ascension) are all thrown around, but they aren’t explicitly defined until later. It was a bit confusing trying to figure out all of these new terms.
More of an apathy point, but I didn’t care about any of the romances in the story. They weren’t bad, I just didn’t buy into them.
Overall this was a really good read for me, and the good outweighed the bad. I absolutely loved the vibe of the story and the characters drew me in. There were also some pretty great twists at the end of the story
though I called one in chapter 2, they are well set up and promise a sequel with even more drama and intrigue!