Three girls, three queens, one throne. Two have to die for one to take over the throne and reign on the island. But which one will be strong enough to murder her sisters. The poisoners are sure that their Queen Katharine will keep them on their counsel seats, as it has been for the last 100 years. The temple priestesses wants Queen Mirabella, the Elementalist, to end the years of the poisoners and bring back the way of the Goddess. And then there is Queen Arsinoe, the Naturalist, waiting for her gift to finally show. This story did more than fulfill my expectations. I had heard so much good about it, that I was a little skeptical if it can live up to the hype. But, boy, this was truly amazing and I loved all the Queens, hated Luca and Rho and the poisoners, had high hopes for Joseph and Pietyr and Billy. On to the next book asap and for everyone, who hasn’t read “Three Dark Crowns”.....do it, you won’t regret it!
That being said, my expectations for what this book would be were greater than what it turned out to be. I'm not saying that Three Dark Crown's isn't a great book, it is in many ways, but it didn't have me gushing and shivering with anticipation for the next book.
The characters are the strongest aspect of Three Dark Crowns and propel the story well. All of the characters are complex, compelling and flawed, and it was fascinating and refreshing to read about them. Though, this is where my first issue arose - all the POV changes. ALL. THE. TIME. I'm not really one for constantly changing POV's, especially in the first book of a series, and within a single chapter, but sometimes a story or particular characters can woo me over. Not with Three Dark Crowns. The changes were so sudden and abrupt all the way through the book I sometimes had a hard time keeping up. Further, it was near impossible to follow who was who and where was where and what was what for the first 150 pages and the reader is thrust from POV to POV in rapid succession. This made the reading experience jarring and difficult to get into the flow.
I did really love some of the characters - Katharine, Arsinoe and Jules were my favourites. I found some of the other characters compellingly fascinating and others that I just straight up disliked.
The writing style in this book was a little hard to follow as well, which I feel has a lot to do with the constantly changing POVs. I've read and enjoyed Kendare Blake's Anna Dressed in Blood series and I don't recall having any issues with her writing at all. In fact, I found it great. I feel that it was a creative decision whilst writing the book, and to me didn't work - once again, it felt jarring all the time, the way the sentences were formed or characters expressed thoughts. It almost felt too formal. Maybe this is just me, but that is how I felt.
The world building was solid, and once over the confusing information at the start, was great to read about. I loved the internal and external struggles the queens went through and the entire premise for the book is just fantastic. As I mentioned at the start, the brutality of this world is never understated or brushed over, but always stated outright and honestly.
To be honest, even with the strength and intrigues of the ending, the plot in this book is slow and more emotional than action based. Three Dark Crowns is really about exploring what the three queens go through emotionally with a little side action (and some of the secondary characters POVs) as they build up to the Ascension Year and all the intense ceremonies including the fact that only one will survive. The ending was really strong, but the build up was slow. I don't know whether that was because of the POV changes or not.
All in all, Three Dark Crowns is a solid fantasy read in a brutal world with three sisters fighting for power. This book explores the emotional toils they suffer as well as those suffered by their closest friends and allies. I know I'm in the minority here, with not completely adoring this book, but I'm afraid that it just didn't translate all the way for me. I would certainly recommend this book to anyone who has read and loved Kendare Blake's books in the past, or a reader looking for a vividly brutal world of power struggles between three sisters, where only the strongest will survive.
*Thank-you to Macmillan Press Australia and NetGalley for this ARC. I received this ARC in exchange for an honest review*
Triplet sisters Katharine, Arsinoe and Mirabella are graced with very different magical powers (poisoner, naturalist and elementalist). They must follow their predecessors’ steps and fight to the death to become the sole queen of Fennbirn when they turn 16. This book is something of a mesh between Game of Thrones meets Pretty Little Liars meets The Crown’s Game!
I loved the plot twists and the magical powers. Things I thought would happen didn’t (which is great!). I am loving how the game skyrocketed between the three queens after a certain catastrophic event – and who can blame them?! This first book sets up well for the sequel but also has its own shocking twists and turns. The fight for the throne have gone bloody, personal and ever more strategic. I’ve got Taylor Swift’s “Bad Blood” song ringing my head… Recommended for fantasy readers. I also recommend that you don’t give up at the beginning even though it is a little slow because the plot twists are well worth the read.
This is a difficult book to review because there were some aspects that I loved and others that I didn’t.
I struggled through the first 30% of the book as it constantly switched between the three queens. Each had different secondary characters, abilities and worlds, and I didn’t feel a connection with the characters until half way through the book. It picked up after that when the pacing improved and the plot became more intriguing.
The queens were separated at a young age and raised under the influence and guidance of others who have their own agenda. The queens were merely pawns in a political struggle for power and control. Refreshingly, the queens were not all powerful, and without the support and strength from those close to them, they would have had little control over their lives. I found the supporting characters more interesting than the queens, though I can foresee the queens developing more in the next book. I loved how one incident has a snowball effect and influences the outcome of other events. There are plenty of twists and a bit of romance as the story unravels to a surprising conclusion.
In summary, I loved the characters and the plot, though it is very slow and confusing in first part of the book.
Thank you to the publisher for sending me a review copy!