Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake
“…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.”
Three Dark Crowns is about three sisters who are separated at a young age and grow up knowing they will meet again only to have to kill each other. Morbid? Yes. Weirdly fascinating? YES!
I really liked the idea behind this book. I’ve never read anything quite like this where triplets grow up knowing they will have to murder their sisters in order to be queen. It is a terrifying idea, and yet I couldn’t help but be enthralled by it.
“‘You will need it to be true, the High Priestess says. ‘For it is too cruel otherwise, to force a queen to kill that which she loves. Her own sisters. And for her to see that which she loves come at her door like wolves, seeking her head.'”
Now, a word of warning: the first part of the book is slow. It focuses on how each sister is preparing herself, each in her own way: Katharine as a poisoner, Arsinoe as a naturalist, and Mirabella as an elemental. But stick with it. Trust me, the last parts of the book are good!
This building of the story definitely sets the stage for the events to come. Once the sisters turn 16, the Accession Year begins, and the sisters have to find ways to kill each other. The lead up made the betrayals, the twists, and the surprises so much more worth it.
“‘I could never hate you,’ she says. ‘But if you do not leave now, my cat will tear your throat out.'”
One of my favourite things about this book was that every time you started liking someone, they betrayed someone and made you gasp in horror! Is that a weird thing to like about a book? I don’t care. There were several times when I was sitting there yelling, “how could you do that?!”
“‘But have you seen his arms?’ Bree asks.”
Bree gets me.
I (clearly) really enjoyed the secondary characters in this book as well. The poisoners with Katharine were as dark and gruesome as you’d expect; the elementals and priestesses with Mirabella were kind, funny, and fiercely loyal; and Arsinoe’s group of naturalists were intriguing and entertaining.
I will say that the book focuses quite a bit on the budding romances, but given the point of the book, I would have rather seen more of the fighting and betrayal. However, after the first part of the book, I put my feelings aside and accepted the book for what it is. The first book in a series. As a whole, I think the book is setting the stage for the next books. Several aspects need to be fleshed out more, but because there is so much going on, it’ll have to wait for the next book. I have high hopes for One Dark Throne really delving into this fascinating and deadly tradition!