Review: “Three Dark Crowns” by Kendare Blake

I was so excited to read this book. The plot and the cover sounded amazing! While I wasn’t wholly disappointed, this book wasn’t as thrilling or captivating as I thought it would be. I thought about giving it 2.5 stars but the ending bumped it up half a star.


Title: Three Dark Crowns
Author: Kendare Blake
Publisher: HarperTEEN
Release date: September 20, 2016
Genre: Young adult, fantasy
Length: 398 pages (hardcover)
Synopsis: (from Goodreads) “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.”

My rating: 3/5 stars

First off, the book was incredibly slow. There isn’t a lot of action either. Everything is subtle and slow. There isn’t a lot of fighting scenes but rather, the plot progresses through the actions of the characters and the tension builds as each of three queens learns of the deeds of others and how it could affect their future.

“This is what we are. It doesn’t matter that we didn’t ask for it.” 

While I found each of the characters interesting, I don’t have a favorite. They all have flaws. I prefer Jules to be quite honest. She’s everything we would want in a strong character. I disliked what happened between Mirabella and Joseph because I’m not sure how it pushes the plot forward in any way. I’m not convinced of their “romance” (if you want to call it that) or how they’re attracted to each other in the first place.

In terms of world-building, I found it enjoyable. I like how each queen lives in their respective area but I was extremely confused when Billy was called a “mainlander.” I had to look at the map repeatedly, only to find that Fennbirn is not an island at all–none of the cities are! I know there was an explanation of why they call people “mainlanders” but it doesn’t validate the use of the term for me. As well as with Joseph, I wasn’t convinced of anyone falling in love with one another outside of Jules and Joseph themselves.

I wonder if there’s something about Jules that we aren’t privy to. She’s portrayed as such a strong character with an even stronger gift. Especially with the way the book ended, I have a feeling everyone’s kept secrets from one another and there just has to be some major lies floating around which, I think, can be traced back to Natalia and maybe even Rho and Luca.

I wanted more of the sisters’ relationships. I feel like being torn apart when so young would still leave room for a significant bond to form between the sisters. We see that a bit later in the book. I think I want a bit more background information about their family, such as their mother and the king-consort. They really get slushed off to the side. We’re given a bit of an explanation why but… I don’t know. Maybe it’s my love for backstory that always has be craving for more.

Something else I would really like to see is more interaction with those with the war gift. They, too, get slushed off to the side.

The story itself has a lot of potential but the slow pacing and the confusing world building, along with unconvincing romances, made me rate this book 2.5 stars. But the ending seriously bumped it up to 3 stars because it’s such a game changer! I cannot wait until the next book in the series! It’s so long away though!

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