Thursday, January 5, 2017

Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake

Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake
Release Date -  September 20, 2016
Publisher Website - HarperCollins
Publisher Social Media - Twitter/Facebook/SavvyReader/Frenzy
Pages - 398 pages
My Rating - 5/5
**received from publisher for an honest review**

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
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.
Three Dark Crowns opens with a sinister rhyme ...

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. 

and with it sets the tone for the entire book. Dark, and richly crafted, Kenadre Blake has created a different kind of fairytale. One with magic, sisters who are trained to kill each other, and some deliciously doomed romances. It also happens to boast Kendare Blake's usual sharp writing, and a compelling cast of secondary characters.

The world that Kendare Blake has created is deeply fascinating. The rituals, and ceremony that go into rather brutal and tragic events does little to mask the truth, but it creates a ruling system that you cannot wait to learn more about. Each of the 'gifts' that the potential Queens have come with their own 'factions' of sorts and history. It create a really rich feeling world, that has the potential to grow as the story continues.

Each of the sisters are incredibly compelling. Katharine, the poisoner who can craft deadly poisons. Arsinoe, a naturalist capable of controlling plants and animals. Maribella, a elemental who can summon flames and cause storms. Maribella is rumoured to be the strongest of the three, and her skills are certainly more advanced that her sisters. There are more similarities between the sisters than there are differences. They each are determined, strong, smart young women who have been told they are special their whole lives and it is interesting at how similar they became while being raised very differently. Each of these sisters draws you in and I loved spending time with each of them. Their storylines are all engaging and interesting as the story builds towards the moment when all are in the same place. My only minor issue is that I wanted to see more of them together, even as I recognized why that couldn't happen at this point in the story.

There is a unique feel to the sisterhood in this story. They barely know each other since they've spent most of the lives separated from each other. Even with being torn from each other there is a bond that exists between them. They've spent their lives being trained to kill the other, and taught to fear each other. It is an interesting dynamic, particularly when each of them shares concerns over killing the others. Kendare Blake ensures we feel that sisterly bond, even with much more sinister motives are present.

Politics are a strong force within this story. We see what each faction is willing to do to ensure that their Queen wins the coveted crown. It creates even more danger because you realize that things are not what they appear at first, and that each of the potential Queens needs to be wary of not just each other, but outside influences as well.

The romances, for me, were perfect. They are filled with the kind of delicious complications that make for some interesting plot twists. There is an unexpected love triangle, betrayal, forbidden feelings, and swoon worthy declarations. I have one particular ship that I adored, and even that was fraught with complications. None of the romances overshadow the main storyline, and they were often used to further other storylines which was a refreshing. I am curious where each of these love connections lead in the next book as none of them are without heartbreak.

This novel is more character driven than plot driven but I think that needs to be the case. We need to feel the stakes. The death that is to come needs to resonate with us. We need to feel for these characters and getting us to know them is the best way for that to happen. I feel I know these sisters and what makes them tick. You come to root for all of them, and that is going to be a problem in subsequent books as only one of them is to survive.

This novel increases the tension towards the end with events happening fast and furious. It offers a breathtaking set up for the subsequent novels in this series and moves closer to the inevitable tragedy that its very premise promises. I feel the next book will be filled with action, and probably more romance, as the sister's navigate this war for the throne.

This is a story of sisterhood that has been ripped away, deceit, power, love, and the lengths people will go to for power. Kendare Blake, once again, crafts a compelling tale filled with unforgettable characters. If you like your fantasy mixed with a fairytale feel, and sharp writing be sure to pick this one up. 

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