Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake is out today, 9/20/16 as Fall Favorite Things Blog Tour continues, and I am fangirling hard ! I am not even sure where to start with this but a review might be the best place, huh? So here you are 🙂
Three Dark Crowns
By Kendare Blake
Fans of acclaimed author Kendare Blake’s Anna Dressed in Blood will devour her latest novel, a dark and inventive fantasy about three sisters who must fight to the death to become queen.
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.
Sometimes writing a review for a book I love comes so easily, then there are moments like this. I stare at my screen wondering how I can possibly convey the excitement and love I have for this book that sits before me? Three Dark Crowns has been on my radar for some time now. I was almost afraid to pick it up when it arrived last week. I sort of let it sit on my table and admired it (look at that cover!), saying a silent prayer that it would not let me down. “Please be all that I have hoped you are”.. yeah total nerd stuff. But that is me, and my life as a lover of all things books. So cat is out of the bag, I loved it!!!! Thank you Kendare Blake and BookSparks for sending me this ARC! I will be following up with previous titles by Kendare Blake that I shamefully have not read. So here is my personal experience.
We have three main characters, all of which happen to be sisters. All of which have also been torn apart and raised to fight one another to the death for the throne.
“Three Black Witches are born in a glen,
sweet little triplets
will never be friends.Three Black Witches, all fair to be seen
two to devour
and one to be queen”
-Kendare Blake, Three Dark Crowns
(I am sure this is a quote that will appear frequently in reviews. It is so eerily perfect!)
I really am struggling to contain myself at this point. There is part of me dying to elaborate and divulge so much about Mirabella, Arsinoe, and Katharine. However, I feel that discovering their strengths and weaknesses are such an important part of the experience in this story that I am refraining. Dear Lord, I am ever refraining.
I will say that there is a lot happening here. And by a lot, I mean so much that it can feel overwhelming at first. This story is told through alternating narration centered around each sister. Originally, I was concerned (think about the first time your read Game of Thrones or something similar). It felt like there may actually be too much happening and that can be intimidating. However, after several chapters it all began to fall beautifully into place. I have never so pleased to be so wrong. The author quickly manages to humanize and provide real depth to each sister, weaving an intriguing and entwined tale that is captivating. I easily found myself connecting with them on different levels which made for a difficult read at times. I experienced certain amounts of endearment towards each sister for varying reasons. I was truly torn. Was it even possibly to root for one sister? Did one sister deserve to live over the other two? What a horribly fantastic scenario… bawhaha! People will die, but who?! I can’t stand it, but I want more!
Just using the term “rich” would be an injustice at this point in terms of world building. Blake has constructed the world of Fennbirn spanning between the lives of three young girls. It is complex. I had a photo of the book map inserted here, but decided against it. I am a hug fan of maps in books. Half of the fun is opening up a new title to discover a map and explore it, so I have removed it. You are welcome, and you can thank me in the comments below. The journey across this vast land is experienced best through the customs or culture of each character. There is a lot of variation in terms of lifestyles and practices happening, all with one common goal. We have elementalists, poisoners, and naturalists. Each queen’s story brings something unique to the setting. The alternating narration and introduction of new characters and additional information happening throughout Three Dark Crowns continually expands and builds upon this multifaceted world.
This is where Three Dark Crowns shines. The idea of family fighting for the throne, is certainly not a new concept. We have all read similar books and novels before. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. Blake however, has made it work and raised the ante. It may take a few chapters for this one to settle in, but please do yourself a favor and allow it to. Patience will be your friend with this one. This is not your run of the mill fantasy book. Separating three sisters at such a young age and raising them to truly hate one another is a sinister twist within its own, but the amount of detail and care that has been taken with each queen and their struggle to rise above escalates matters to another level that feels so much darker. If you are a fan of fantasy then you are familiar with elementalists and naturalists. You have probably even read of rogues or masters of poison, but this is a unique experience. The poisoners were ingenious! Consuming feasts of poison was bloody brilliant! I also appreciate that she held true to familiars and so many aspects related to fantasy while placing her own imaginative touch on everything.
And the ending.. oh the ending! I absolutely squeal with delight when a book ends in such a satisfying and unpredictable manner! I wanted to stand and applaud, of course I didn’t because that would be ridiculous, but you get the point.
Three Dark Crowns is nothing if not a rewarding read. Robust storytelling full of fascinating characters with a huge heaping of unpredictability make this gratifying and worthy of every minute. This is being added to my shelf of favorites. It simply left me wanting more!
⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
About The Author
Kendare Blake holds an MA in creative writing from Middlesex University in northern London. She is the author of Anna Dressed in Blood, a Cybils Award finalist; Girl of Nightmares; Antigoddess; Mortal Gods; and Ungodly. Her books have been translated into 18 languages, have been featured on multiple best-of-year lists, and have received many regional and librarian awards. Kendare lives and writes in Kent, Washington. Visit her online at www.kendareblake.com or on Twitter @KendareBlake.