Title: Three Dark Crowns
Author: Kendare Blake
Release Date: September 20, 2016
Genre: YA, Fantasy
As long as anyone can remember, the Queen of Fennbirn has been one of three sisters, triplets born to the reigning queen. To prevent them from bonding to one another, the sisters are separated at a young age and each is trained to be powerful in a certain type of magic…so she can kill her two sisters and claim the throne. The time is coming when the three sisters must battle one another—but only one of them, Mirabella, shows any aptitude for the magic she represents. Her sisters Katharine and Arsinoe must discover ways to protect their own lives and still claim the crown. But only one of the three can survive. Who will it be?
The summary of Three Dark Crowns might sound complicated, and indeed, Kendare Blake has built a complicated fantasy world with its own rules and norms. But that doesn’t mean this book is difficult to read. Blake starts the novel off with a simple story—that of Katharine—and as the novel jumps narration between the sisters, the intricacies of the world are built in the reader’s head. It’s incredibly well done, providing connections to each of the three girls (and making sure the reader is emotionally invested in all of them) while also gradually building the world around them.
Who will you root for in Three Dark Crowns? It’s clear from the beginning that only one—Katharine, Mirabella, or Arsinoe—can survive. More than that, and perhaps worse than that, though, the victor will only survive by becoming a murderer and dispatching her two sisters. This has been instilled in each girl since she was a child, but that doesn’t mean the reader has to find it palatable—I found myself hoping, somehow, that they would find another way out. It’s such a wild premise, yet it works so well for the novel.
I’ve been so impressed with YA fantasy novels lately, and Three Dark Crowns is no exception. It drew me in completely and I raced through the novel in one sitting. This is the first in a series, so if you’re the type who waits until all books are out before diving into series, then keep that in mind. But I thought this novel stood on its own two feet well; it asked a lot of provocative questions, and answered many of them, but still left readers open and eager for the sequel(s). I absolutely will be ready to read the sequel as soon as it’s available!