Title: Three Dark Crowns (#1)
Author: Kendare Blake
RATING: ★★★★☆ (4.5)
Disclaimer: I received a free copy via Edelweiss for review purposes.
Three Dark Crowns follows three queens, triplets born on the island of Fennbirn, who are vying for the crown. All are heirs to the crown, each with their own power: Mirabella is an elemental, who can control fire and storms, Katharine is a poisoner who can ingest the deadliest poisons, and the final sister is Arsinoe, a naturalist who can bloom flowers and control a familiar. As they turn 16, the sisters must battle for the crown, a fight to the death, and the last queen standing becomes Queen Crowned. Yet two of the sisters are faking their powers – Arsinoe cannot grow a simple weed, and Katharine has an intolerance to even the weakest poisons. As alliances form, schemes to tear down the queens become deadly.
Three Dark Crowns is a superbly dark fantasy. Where it lacks in pacing, it makes up for in character development and dynamics, creating a richly developed cast of characters and relationships. Whilst there is a fair bit of romance, and some of it heading into love-triangle territory on more than one occasion, the relationships that the sisters have with their friends, mentors, and each other has a pretty heavy focus and it was these relationships that I thoroughly enjoyed and thought were superbly done and developed.
There are three POVs – Katharine, Mirabella and Arsinoe – and they are very distinct, and thoroughly enthralling. My favourite was Arsinoe who was feisty and independent, but the other two are equally strong characters in their own right. I particularly enjoyed the factions and alliances attached to each Queen, and how they clash in the fight for the throne.
I won’t deny that this is a slow paced book, but it is exceptionally well written and well developed that it more than makes up for it.
(Also, that ending was AMAZING)