Three Dark Crowns (Three Dark Crowns #1)
By Kendare Blake
Summary: 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.
If only it was that simple. Katharine is unable to tolerate the weakest poison, and Arsinoe, no matter how hard she tries, can’t make even a weed grow. The two queens have been shamefully faking their powers, taking care to keep each other, the island, and their powerful sister Mirabella none the wiser. But with alliances being formed, betrayals taking shape, and ruthless revenge haunting the queens’ every move, one thing is certain: the last queen standing might not be the strongest…but she may be the darkest.
Source: I received a hardcover in an Owlcrate box.
I loved getting this book when I opened up one of my previous Owlcrate boxes. I loved Anna Dressed in Blood by the same author and I knew that she would weave and dark and unforgettable tale of three would-be queens. I did not read the synopsis before jumping in, so I only knew what I could discern from the title and cover, which is how I prefer to read if I’m in the mood to not necessarily know what I’m getting.
Essentially, the island has a queen. The queen has triplets. Only one of them can be crowned queen. To take the throne, she must kill her sisters and take the throne. Every generation. Each potential queen has an ability and possesses a certain strain of magic. In Three Dark Crowns, Katharine was a poisoner queen. She could ingest poisons with no real ill effect, but her power was weak and virtually nonexistent. She was, however, adept at poisoning and poison mixing. Having been subjected to rigorous training, she was shy and had no real confidence. Arsinoe was said to be a naturalist, which meant she should be able to control plants and animals. Instead, her power was also weak and close to nonexistent, though her best friend Jules was a very powerful naturalist and controlled a wild cat. Mirabella was the only real talented would-be queen. She was an elemental and could control the elements, generating storms and controlling fire. The other two were much weaker, but as long as they could put on a show, they’d get the opportunity to be courted and could kill their other sisters and win the crown.
The sisters were separated early in life and did not know each other aside from intelligence gathered by their supporters. Each sister was essentially trained and raised by those adept in their skills and guided each one. However, there was also a game of politics being played. No one wanted their queen to lose, even if their powers weren’t really strong.
I loved the premise of the book, especially as I got to meet the characters. None of them really wanted to be vicious and kill their siblings, it was simply what was always done and what was expected of them. Generations of poisoner queens had been in the lead, so naturally, the poisoner family of the Arron’s wanted Katharine to take the throne as the next poisoner queen to keep everyone in the lead and in the same position. Between politics and temples backing certain queens and not others, who knew what could happen to any of the queens.
As the story went on, I felt like i got to know and like all the sisters, so even I wasn’t sure who should win. Mirabella certainly had the most power, but she also had dreams, memories even, of her sisters and was less inclined to murder them. The temple attempted to take matters into their own hands. There was drama, mystery, romance, and violence in the book and I was on the edge of my seat wondering what would happen to each of the three possible queens.
I definitely recommend the book and I can’t wait for the sequel. It was a good choice for Owlcrate and I don’t know that I would have necessarily picked it up otherwise!