Antonia's Antics · Everything & Anything

Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake

Summary: When kingdom come, there will be one.
In 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.

Review: I have very mixed feelings about this book. Overall I enjoyed reading it, but I had a few problems that kept me from loving it.
One of my main concerns before starting the book was how Blake would be able to make triplet queens who have to kill each other for the throne while also making them likable. I could never imagine harming my sisters so the idea seemed ridiculous to me, though it makes more sense when you find out the queens are separated as small children.
I found that it did make me like them less. Mirabella at least struggles with the thought of killing her sisters because she has memories of them as children (the others do not). Her fight between what she’s been taught her whole life and how she feels seemed more realistic to me. However, she still kills an innocent girl as a sacrifice to the goddess.
Katherine seemed sweet at the beginning but she’s killed many people and is the most willing to kill her sisters. She’s the only one by the end of the book to actively make an attempt to kill one of the others.
Arsinoe is my favorite of the three. She’s the most down to earth because of how she was raised; not like a future queen but more like the way children should be raised. She has actual friends and free reign of the village while her sisters have basically been locked up their entire lives. Unfortunately, her only real qualm about having to kill her sisters is that she’s the one most likely to die because she’s ungifted, not because murder is wrong.
Which is my main problem with this society. Literally no one thinks that a succession based on children murdering each other is wrong. People constantly look at the queens sadly because it’s just so tragic but no one ever says outright “Hey, this is wrong and we need to change”.
My other issue with this society is how the succession works. The last queen standing becomes ruler of Fennbirn; until she gives birth. So if they’re sixteen when they ascend the throne they rule for maybe about ten years since women had children at much younger ages in societies like these. Then once she’s given birth to the next queens, she immediately steps down as queen and leaves Fennbirn forever. Until the queens come of age at sixteen and start killing each other, the council rules and the council is generally made up of whichever people supported the last queen. So, since poisoner queens have sat on the throne for a few generations, this society has been ruled entirely by poisoners the entire time. Though it’s mentioned at the beginning that people with the poisoner gift can also heal, none of the poisoners are shown with any redeeming qualities. They’re only ever portrayed as ruthless murderers.
So generally, this council rules longer than the queens do and it only ever changes after three teenage sisters viciously murder each other. My main thought for the entirety of this book was that this society could not be sustainable.
I liked most of the other characters though some were a little two-dimensional. I liked Joseph particularly until he does something that seemed vastly out of character to me and for the rest of the book I found him extremely annoying.
Jules and Camden were amazing; I’d read a book just about them.
The story was a little slow, the only thing that kept it from dragging for me was that the POV changes happened pretty quickly so it felt like it was moving faster than it was. However, all the POV’s made it so that I didn’t get to know the characters as well as I’d like to.
The plot was certainly unique. There were several twists (especially the one at the end) that made me like the story more and more. Despite the problems I had, I’m definitely invested enough to read the next book and am extremely curious as to where the plot could possibly go next.
I’d recommend this to anyone who likes YA fantasy, especially those who enjoy darker themes. Thanks for reading.
-Antonia

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