Three Dark Crowns is a story of three queens set in a uniquely crafted world and situation. Born triplets, each is identified as having a special power, and sent to be raised with the respective families who share that power. Only one of the girls can become Queen, and after displaying their skills at the celebration of their 16th birthday, called the Quickening, they have year to kill their sisters and be the last queen standing.
Mirabella is an Elemental who can control fire and storms. Katharine is a Poisoner who can withstand ingesting deadly poisons, and Arsinoe is a Naturalist who has power over plants and wild animals. The fourth power, a minority on the island of Fennbirn are the Warrior’s whose influence has faded by the time of the events in this story.
During the Quickening one of the events is the Disembarkation which is the presentation of suitors from the mainland, each of whom will court the three queens in the hopes of marrying the one who survives the Ascention Year.
Fennbirn is mystically separated from the continent, which has prevented Arsinoe from escaping the island in the past. Both Arsinoe and Katharine seem to have weaknesses and trouble with their powers, while Mirabella has wondrous control over hers and seems the likely candidate for Queen. The story is told from multiple viewpoints, often with very short chapters lasting less than a page, which really drives the story forward and makes for a true page-turner.
One of the things that I loved about this book is that there is no clear antagonist at first. As a reader I wanted to cheer for all three of the queens. While each of them have their personal faults, none of them is really at fault for their situation; they are a product of their society and the families that have respectively raised them.
There is also a wonderfully tricky and unexpected love triangle between characters in a situation that was caused purely by circumstance and without malice. To even name the three characters would be a major spoiler.
The supporting cast of noble family members, friends, suitors, and Priestesses enriches the world of Fennbirn and fleshes out the society and it’s layers. There is an excellent map in the front of the book, which is a great reference since the story moves around with the three queens and others points of view.
Mirabella, Arsinoe, and Katharine, are as deadly as they are vulnerable, and I look forward to reading what Kendare Blake has in store for them in the next volume.
Three Dark Crowns was published by HarperTeen (an imprint of Harper Collins Publishers) in 2016. While a second book is in the works (according to Kendare Blake’s website), there is no scheduled release date for it as of yet.
Buy or Don’t Buy: Buy. This book has the makings of a movie all over it and is sure to become a staple of the genre. Read it and enjoy it first.
- Genre: Teen Fantasy, Adventure, with a bit of Romance
- Setting: The mythical island of Fennbirn, off the coast of a larger continent, medieval technology
- Main Characters: Triplet sisters: Katharine, Arsinoe, and Mirabella each with a gift and separated at a young age, required to kill each other until only one survives for the crown.
- Age Recommendation: 14+
- Interesting supporting character with motivations that range from dubious to sincere, influencing the three queens in surprising ways.
- Well set up ending for the next book
Started Reading: November 12
Finished Reading: November 15