Book Review: Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake

Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake

Genre: Dark Fantasy, Young Adult

Series: Three Dark Crowns #1

Publisher: HarperTeen (September 2016)

Author Infokendareblake.com

Wendy’s Rating: 4 of 5 stars

Triplet queens are born to each previous queen, as the goddess commands. One a poisoner, one a naturalist, one an elementalist. May the strongest take her crown and the others perish by the queen’s hand. It is assumed that this year, Mirabella, with her fierce spirit and great elemental powers, will take the throne. Her sisters are weak. Katharine struggles with her poisoners gift and Arsinoe can hardly make a flower bloom, much less call an animal familiar.

The queens, separated since childhood, are resigned to their fate. That this ritual must dominate their lives is all that they live for, even the two who know they are not meant to win. Yet still, Arsinoe and Khatarine persist, either by their own will or the encouragement or coercion of their companions. The story is told from the view points of the three queens and several of these companions. Through their eyes, Blake shapes the different realms of the kingdom, as well as the nature of their worship and this age old ritual, and, of course, the queens themselves. At first, this constant back and forth is a bit ponderous and perhaps a bit confusing, but it was certainly necessary to the worldbuilding leading up to the night of their sixteenth birthday, when their battle for the crown truly begins. This climax does not happen until the very end so I must caution that this book requires patience, but I was quite pleased with the pay off and promise of more to come.

This book successfully kept me on my toes with its constant twists and turns. It is never quite clear who is working for or against each of the queens, and even those who seem to love them most can’t be trusted. Not that everything is about deep dark plotting and scheming — though there is a healthy does of that.

The entire concept behind the triplet queens is pretty creepy and the way each queen and those around them approaches the concept of having to kill her sister helps fuel the intrigue. And then there is the greater question of who is really running the show? The politics behind the three groups of magics is tangled up within the story but there’s a sense that there’s so much more going on that we don’t get to see. And by the end of the book when things finally come to a head, it’s clear that all of this has only scratched the surface of what the queens and their courts are capable of.

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

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11 Comments on “Book Review: Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake

    • We just got Overdrive at our school board so I’ve found myself reading a lot of YA lately, which usually isn’t my thing, but I’ve been very fortunate in what I’ve been reading so far. Quite a few good ones.

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  1. This book’s premise reminds me a little of a storytelling element in Daniel Abraham’s “Long Price Quarter”: in there, the ruler of one country came to power after having defeated (read: killed) his brothers, and each new ruler knew that his sons would have to fight each other to reach the throne. Fascinating, if a little chilling… 🙂
    Thanks for sharing!

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  2. I liked this one a lot. I do agree it was a little slow, and I would have liked more from the climax, but I know she’s setting up book two. Which I can’t wait for by the way! I’m very curious to see where this goes. And I had trouble picking a favorite- I went into the book thinking I might pick a contender, so to speak, but I ended up liking all three of them, in different ways, for different reasons.

    I did think it was creepy too just how manipulated these three women are!

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    • It was super hard to pick a favourite! Especially by the end. I can’t say any of them endeared themselves to me, but their unique situations were all really interesting and I loved how things were completely upended by the time they all got together.

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    • I had heard good things about her Anna Dressed in Blood but have yet to get around to reading it. I just found out about this one so I ended up grabbing it first.

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  3. Sounds very intriguing and a good set up for No.2. I think I decided against picking this one up as I’m hesitating to start any more series when I have so many left to complete but I’ll definitely keep an eye on this one.
    Lynn 😀

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