Publication Date: September 19, 2017
Format: Hardcover, 464 Pages
Genres: Young Adult - High Fantasy
Find it On: GoodReads - Amazon
My Rating: ★★1/2
The battle for the Crown has begun, but which of the three sisters will prevail?
With the unforgettable events of the Quickening behind them and the Ascension Year underway, all bets are off. Katharine, once the weak and feeble sister, is stronger than ever before. Arsinoe, after discovering the truth about her powers, must figure out how to make her secret talent work in her favor without anyone finding out. And Mirabella, once thought to be the strongest sister of all and the certain Queen Crowned, faces attacks like never before—ones that put those around her in danger she can’t seem to prevent.
In this enthralling sequel to Kendare Blake’s New York Times bestselling Three Dark Crowns, Fennbirn’s deadliest queens must face the one thing standing in their way of the crown: each other.
I'll say the same thing here that I said with book 1: I love Kendare Blake. I love Anna Dressed in Blood . I want so very very much to love this book, but man, it is not for me.
My biggest beef with the first book was that the three sisters weren't all that interesting, and that still stands. Arsinoe is arguably the main character, and her I like. She has a real backbone while still being insecure in herself, and the things she endures are incredible. Mirabella is prissy and delicate and she stays, well, prissy and delicate. She has next to no story and honestly, she's only there to be a buffer between Katherine and Arsinoe. And Katherine! What a potentially wonderful character whose ball was totally dropped. Girl isn't a poisoner and just drinks poison on the reg because she's heavy metal like that. But--and I don't even know how, she had plenty of chapters of narration--this book didn't get into her head at all. I think Blake was being so mysterious about what happened at the end of the last book that her narration was too cold and distant the whole book.
I think part of the reason I didn't feel like the sisters had "screen time" was because there were so many supporting characters. Each sister has a love interest, a few members of their adopted families, and a couple of friends. Unpopular opinion time: I literally don't care about Jules. She keeps popping her head in like she's the main character. I don't care about her feeling like a bad friend. I don't care about her relationship with Joseph. I don't care about her powers. Why is she there? Give me more Mirabella, more Katherine, more action, please! For Mira's story, I'm already underwhelmed by her, I don't also need her friends who have no part in the plot. The side story I was somewhat invested in was the Arron family, but the twist with them at the end came so suddenly that I didn't even have time for it to hit me.
I'd forgive some of this, and maybe give this three stars if the action was good, but it felt so contrived. I guess the entire thing with the queens is contrived and I need to take the premise with a grain of salt, but if any queen can just call for a gathering or a duel at any time, how do these things not go a lot faster? I know these sisters in particular are having reservations about the system, but historically, how would this system not allow blood thirstier triplets to kill each other on day one?
Two saving graces I'll give this. First, BILLY! This precious child carried the entire weight of the book on his perfect shoulders. He transcended the sisters' stories more this time and bless his soul, he made Mirabella's chapters worth reading. What a champ. I think I'm going to be a minority on this one, but my other breakout favorite character was Pietyr. Balls of steel, that boy's got. After the last book he has the gumption to come back and insist he loves Katherine and that she should break the rules to love him back. He is every bit as twisted as she is, and he doesn't even have a bad childhood as an excuse. Keep being jealous and angry, my smol son.
This book's got some cool things going on, I'll give it back, but a series of cool gimmicks doesn't hold a novel together.