Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake

Three Black Witches are born in a glen,

sweet little triplets 
will never be friends.

Three Black Witches, all fair to be seen
two to devour
and one to be queen.

Three Dark Crowns tells the story of three triplet Queens, each with their own type of magic. On the festival of Beltane once the queens are sixteen, their fight to the death begins, and only one queen can survive to become the Queen Crowned of Fennbirn.
This book is told from the points of view of all three sisters, which I enjoyed as it meant you got to know each sister individually, rather than from others thoughts. This writing style, however, did mean that the book took a while to get into, as you had to wait for each sisters chapter to roll around again to learn more of them. If you can be patient with the slow beginning though, this book is definitely worth it!
Each of the triplets has been trained since they were six by families who have powers that are the same as theirs. Once the Ascension year began (starting on their sixteenth birthday) preparations for Beltane began too, including suitors visiting the queens – the book itself isn’t entirely clear on how a suitor is chosen, but presumably one will be chosen to marry whichever sister becomes the Queen Crowned.

Here’s a little about each sister:

  • Mirabella is an elemental, able to control fire, water and wind. Her power is famed across the island of Fennbirn, to the point where even the priestesses of the island are openly backing her, an act which hasn’t been done before. Although most expect Mirabella to easily kill her sisters and become the Queen Crowned, Mirabella still remembers her sisters as children and wants to protect them.
  • Katharine is a poisoner, with the ability to digest any poison and survive, and a skill mixing them too. However, Katharine grows sicker each time she is poisoned, to the point where she’s incredibly thin and frail and is always covered in scabs, bruises and scars. The Queen Crowned has been the poisoner queen for the last hundred years, and the family training Katharine are keen to keep the poisoners on the throne.
  • Arsinoe is a naturalist, and should be able to make flowers bloom and crops grow, as well as having an animal familiar. Arsinoe’s power, however, is the weakest of the sisters. She struggles to even make a flower look a bit more colourful, and has basically given up any hope of becoming Queen Crowned. She lives with Jules, a very skilled naturalist who has a large cat as a familiar.
Katharine’s chapter is first, and she immediately became my favourite triplet – I found Mirabella hard to connect with and was bored by Arsinoe’s chapters to begin with, as they seemed much more focused on her friend Jules than on Arsinoe herself. However, I grew fond of her as the book went on, and I’m not sure which queen I’d root for anymore (although I’m still not fond of Mirabella). 
I liked the writing style and the setting of this book, as well as the world it’s set in (although I would like to know more about it) and the secondary characters were strong and well rounded. I didn’t find Three Dark Crowns to be predictable at all, which it could easily have become. I did think that this book would be a lot darker than it was, but it ended up being very driven by character development rather than plot based, and I do think that this style worked very well. After that huge twist at the end, I’m expecting quite a plot based sequel, anyway!

There’s just a few things that I didn’t enjoy so much about this book:

  •  As previously mentioned, the beginning is quite slow – probably the first 50 pages at least. Although not much happens here, I would encourage you to stick it out and keep reading!
  • There is a love triangle, and in my opinion, it wasn’t the best. I can’t say much about it without including spoilers, but I’ll just say that I really don’t think that the male character involved in the love triangle has any excuse for what he does in the book, and unless he’s been lying from the start, it’s just a bit ridiculous of him.
  • I would have liked more world building – a lot of history was mentioned that hadn’t been expanded upon much. Maybe this will happen in the sequel, though! 

Overall, I really enjoyed Three Dark Crowns and would recommend it to most fantasy lovers. However, if a fast paced plot is what you’re after, this book probably isn’t for you.
Have you read Three Dark Crowns yet? What did you think of it?


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