Thursday, October 27, 2016

Book Review: Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake

Three Dark Crowns (Three Dark Crowns #1) by Kendare Blake 
Publication Date: September 20, 2016
Genres: YA - Fantasy
Find it On: Goodreads / Amazon / Book Depository / B&N
My Rating: 


When kingdom come, there will be one.

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.

About the Author:

Kendare Blake grew up in the small city of Cambridge, Minnesota. She is a graduate of Ithaca College, in Ithaca, New York and received a Master of Arts in Creative Writing from Middlesex University in London, England. She loves to travel, is an advocate for animals, and cheats a lot when she plays Final Fantasy. Adopted from South Korea at the age of seven months, she arrived with the following instruction: "Feed her chocolate." Though not medically advisable, she and her parents are eternally grateful for this advice.

My Review:

I loved Anna Dressed in Blood and its sequel, so man was I pumped to see Kendare Blake releasing another book! It's a completely different genre, but let me tell you right now what she did right: she made fantasy different. I absolutely loved how specific the physics of the world are. With all plots in YA feeling used up this was really refreshing. 

Arsinoe, Katharine, and Mirabella are three sisters who were born to kill each other. In their island kingdom, there is only one Queen, and it the triplet - a gift to the previous Queen from their gods - who is victorious at the end of their ceremonial sixteenth year. Each has her own gift (Katharine poisoning, Arsinoe nature, and Mirabella weather) that give her strength, and each has a family who wants the crown and to see their adopted daughter succeed. But the girls not only question if their strong enough to become victorious. They also question how they'll even bring themselves to kill their sisters.

Everyone seems to be dividing into teams, so let me say straight up that I'm team Arsinoe! She's the most realistic to me: she's sympathetic, but not weak. Often while reading I found myself skimming a bit for her narrative.

Mirabella was a little too prissy and I found myself glazing over her, but there were some developments at the end that set her up to be more interesting next book. 

Katharine! What a b*tch! Her story of abuse and misfortune should set her up to be sympathetic, but holy hell do I hate her! I think that's a credit to Blake, though, because she was so fun to hate, it could have only been intentional.

There was also a weird fourth storyline in Arsinoe's best friends. For a story about the sisters, it was weird how much their plots overshadowed everything. I was quite meh about their presence and development.

The world building was amazing minus one major thing: being a Poisoner is a super lame power. Katharine's people are impervious to poison, which as a result has created a culture of people that eat exclusively poisoned foods and are incredibly versed on different ways to poison people. That's great and all, but it hardly compares to people who control plants and animals or the weather. Basically, it's not inherently offensive, only defensive. What if the three powers were nature based (plants, animals, weather)? Or what if it was all ways they were impervious to death (poison, violence, age)? This one power seems like it's from another world entirely than the other two.
Another huge drawback for me was a seeming inconsistency with their age, especially in terms of sexuality. The sisters are sixteen, which is made abundantly clear. At that age, it makes sense that sex and love get so easily confused. But first off, why is sex so loose in an otherwise Medieval society? (To be fair, if I'm understanding correctly, the queens can't get pregnant until their triplets, so this may be a reason for their promiscuity). But at the same time, they have an awareness and control of their sex appeal that doesn't fit a sixteen-year-old. I don't know exactly how old Blake is, but it feels like one of those detachments of an adult author forgetting quite what a teenager's world view is like.

I'm harping on the drawbacks, I know, but trust me, this was a real bang of a first book! The characters were intricate and the plot full of twists and turns. I can't wait for a sequel so I can dive back into this world! 

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