I recently finished the fantasy novel Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake – a book that I was super excited to read.
The story takes place on an island where three queens are born, each with their own ‘gift,’ and when they turn sixteen they battle to the death so that one can rule. The story alternates between the three queens’ points of view as they approach their fateful birthdays. Arsinoe is the naturalist queen which is a gift that allows control of plants and animals. Katherine is a poisoner queen which allows her to eat toxic food and be a master of poisons. Mirabella is an elemental queen giving her power over storms, fire, and wind.
I thought the premise was incredible. However, as I read the story, it took a little longer than most books to fully understand the world. I had difficulty grasping how the different gifts and politics worked because it was fairly complex. But the characters, both the queens and all of their various friends and lovers, grabbed my attention from the beginning. I was constantly trying to decide which queen I was rooting for and my mind continued to change even up to the final chapter (I personally go back and forth between Arsinoe and Mirabella!)
The writing is great with interesting dialogue and well developed characters. The three leads are strong female characters and not because they are cliche warriors and super strong. Rather, they are flawed, confused girls doing their best to stay alive and do what their people have asked of them. I found myself cheering for all of them and being mad at them all at some point which I think shows really fleshed out characters.
I will say that this book seemed like a set up for the sequel which unfortunately is not coming out until September (the wait will be torture). In the middle of the book, I found myself dragging a bit but the story picked up fast in the last hundred pages with a few major twists thrown in that have me counting down the months until the sequel comes out!