Three Dark Crowns & One Dark Throne (Book Review)

It's taken me forever to review Three Dark Crowns and One Dark Throne because I keep turning them around in my head. They're maddening because the story never takes the path that you expect, but they were also fantastic reads, even if you aren't normally a YA reader. 

The very quick gist of the story is that each queen of Fennbirn island will bear triplets, and those triplets will compete with each other to the death to become the next queen. Throw elemental magic into the mix and the story becomes even more complex. Since the books deserve their own review, I'll leave the plot at that for now. Four books are planned for the series, with the final two being released in 2018 and 2019. 

three dark crowns by kendare blake
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.
— Goodreads

The first time I read through Three Dark Crowns was via audiobook while I drove, and then I read the physical book again before the sequel was released this fall. I'm really glad that I read it twice because this book lays the groundwork for the world and the story, and is full of description. The audiobook failed to really create the setting for me, but the book did a fabulous job. Kendare Blake is a skilled world-builder--I really can't heap enough praise on her. The writing is fantastic, the story flows very well, and the world is so unique and interesting! 

I enjoyed the fact that the narrative shifts from sister to sister throughout the book. This was very effective in setting each character up, faults and all, as well as drawing me into their individual stories. By the end of the book, I really didn't know who to root for, and I was itching to get my hands on the sequel.  

The only negatives I can think of are that there were a few areas where the narrative contradicted itself, and a few plot points were abandoned part way through with no explanation. These were minor, but I still took off a star because of them. 

4 Stars.

Get it on Amazon here

one dark throne by kendare blake
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.
— Goodreads

No spoilers, but this sequel was absolutely fantastic. Each of the queens developed--and flourished--as individuals, and many of the secondary characters had very well-written story arcs as well. I found myself going back and forth about who I was rooting for, which I loved because it meant that all of the characters were being developed, rather than one standout "hero". 

There was a part where I nearly cried, and the ending had me rocking back and forth on the couch because I had no idea how to process what had happened. 

5 stars.

Get it on Amazon here