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.”
-THREE DARK CROWNS
THREE DARK CROWNS, Kendare Blake’s debut, is a Young Adult Fantasy novel about magical triplet queens–a poisoner, a naturalist, and an elemental–who, after turning 16, engage in a fight to the death to become Queen Crowned. Katharine and Arsinoe, the poisoner and the naturalist, have weak powers, while Mirabella, the elemental, is strong, but only one will emerge victorious.
The plot is so intriguing, but the beginning lost me. Aside from Katharine, Mirabella, and Arsinoe, the beginning introduced so many characters and ideas. The story is told from the three young women’s perspectives (and a few chapters from other perspectives). The queens have different magical gifts, and they live in different societies. It was a lot to absorb. I also wish the world-building had been more developed. I was unclear about the history of this world, its magic, political structure, etc. Mirabella’s powers are incredibly strong, but Katharine and Arsinoe are weak. As the queens train for battle, suitors court them, but suitors don’t affect who gets crowned. This made the courtship arc feel like the token romantic subplot. I wasn’t a big fan of the male love interests, and no spoilers, but I hate love triangles. MAKE UP YOUR MINDS, PEOPLE. LOYALTY IS NOT THAT DIFFICULT.
Even though the story centered around the queens, my favorite character was Jules, Arsinoe’s best friend. I wanted more of their friendship, and her character arc was so interesting. Jules is the strongest naturalist. This made me wonder why Arsinoe is the only naturalist who could potentially become Queen Crowned rather than Jules, the strongest contender.
I wish the beginning had been whittled down, the character and world-building fleshed out, and the love triangle eliminated (but the love triangle is a matter of taste, so I don’t hold it against the story). I wanted to explore the female relationships further and focus more on the power struggle. With that said, the second half was fast-paced and thrilling, so it made the beginning worth it. So much happens at the end, and I didn’t see the plot twist coming. Looking back, I feel like I should have (and maybe would have if I hadn’t been so lost), but I’m glad I was surprised. The story ended on an exciting note which led me to believe the second book will focus on the themes I wanted more of in this one. THREE DARK CROWNS is worth the read, but consider yourself warned about the beginning! I’m looking forward to the next book as the fight to become Queen Crowned continues.
No one really wishes to be a queen.” -THREE DARK CROWNS