Published: September 20, 2016
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Pages: 398 (Hardcover)
My Rating: 5.0/5.0
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.
I have been so excited for the release of Three Dark Crowns since I read the synopsis many, many months ago and LO, IT WAS FINALLY RELEASED. Guys, I read this in a single sitting. I ignored people and didn’t get anything particularly useful done for the better part of a Sunday. I had intended to read it over the course of the week, but it was too good to put down so I didn’t put it down.
The premise is that there are triplet sisters born to every Queen of Fennbirn. Once the sisters are born, the queen and her consort abdicate the throne and leave for the mainland, never to be heard from again. The girls are aspected towards being a poisoner, a naturalist, or an elemental and go to train with a prominent family of the same aspect. When they reach their sixteenth birthday, they go through a bunch of higgledy-piggledy ceremony and then the bloodbath begins. One sister must triumph over the others by killing them within the space of a single year. The winner will be crowned Queen and the process begins anew. The whole thing is so dark and terrible- I simply loved the idea.
Arsinoe, Katherine, and Mirabella have just turned sixteen and each is struggling in their own way with the looming possibility of death. To compound this, there’s a serious political power struggle between the Black Council (interim rulers) and the Temple priestesses of the island, which believe they deserve power of their own. Each chapter switches perspectives between the sisters, so none is over or under-represented to the reader. This is something I really appreciated because that’s a pretty darn good way to sway the reader into choosing a definite favorite or in this case making the winner obvious. This book seemed straightforward and predictable at first glance, but I soon realized that it was anything but simple.
HEREAFTER SPOILERS ABOUND.
First of all, there’s something decidedly mysterious and/or supernatural about the island of Fennbirn. The sisters cannot leave it- the goddess traps them in the mist and spits them back out where they belong. Secondly, the mainlanders get to the island by travelling through the mist, but they can only do this if they are aware of its existence (I think), which is becoming a rare secret knowledge. It sort of reminds me of the Island from LOST, which I found to be psychologically disturbing. Then there’s the whole triplet sister thing- WHY? What’s the purpose? This is never really explained, other than they are favored by the goddess (which also gives them black hair and eyes). I think the goddess is aspected towards death or something.
Also, as an aside, there’s also a war “gift” and a seeing “gift” which, for whatever reason, the sisters rarely are born with. I thought that there would be a big plot twist revealing that Arsinoe and Katherine whose gifts haven’t blossomed or revealed themselves would have the war gift and be ridiculously good with weapons and slaughter their opponents. BOY WAS I WRONG. The very last page of the book reveals this ridiculously amazing, unexpected plot twist from your wildest imaginings. Arsinoe isn’t a naturalist. She’s the freaking POISONER. That can only lead me to believe that little Katherine is the naturalist and she’s gonna have one scary animal familiar. It’s probably going to be like a dragon or an entire wolf pack or maybe just a big ol grizzly bear.
So much crazy happened near the end of this book that I can’t begin to unravel it all for you here- just go read the book. You can thank me later. This has got to my favorite YA Fantasy that I’ve read to this point in the year. It blew my expectations out of the water and I desperately need the sequel!! I had a few minor points that I can fuss about (love interests), but even they turned out to be out of the ordinary.