Around a year ago (seems to be a reoccurring theme with me) a friend of mine said “Jen, awesome guru of YA novels, can you please give me some suggestions of what to read next?” – Paraphrasing. I responded with, “Oh gods yes, how much time do you have?” She had five minutes so instead of listing them all then and there I went home and wrote a 7,450-word document (13 single space pages) with my top 26 suggestions, their summaries, and my opinions on each.
So I thought I might share some of those with you guys! This is my review of Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake. The sequel One Dark Throne was recently published, but I have not gotten a chance to read it yet. According to Goodreads, this series is scheduled to be a quartet. So without further ado…
In this world every generation the reigning Queen of the island Fennbirn gives birth to a set of female triplets. When the triplets are born the Queen declares their type of magic, then retires and leaves. While still young the three sisters are separated to live with people with the same gifts as them.
Queen Mirabella is sent to the elementals to learn how to conjure brutal storms or dance with a fire’s spark. Queen Katharine, who was declared a poisoner, trains in the delicate art of creating poisons, while also advancing her natural immunity to them by ingesting deadlier and deadlier poisons. The third sister, Queen Arsinoe learns the ways of the naturalists, she will be able to bloom dozens of perfect flowers at a time, plus control the most
unruly of beasts. For now, they all hold the title of Queen, but when the sun sets on their sixteenth birthday the battle for thecrown begins. The last one alive wears the coveted crown.
One of the sisters has shown great skill for her gift and is said to be one of the most powerful Queens seen in ages. Unfortunately, the other two were not so lucky, as they have yet to show the simplest affinity for their gifts. Regardless of their skill level, their sweet sixteen is almost here and blood will spill. The question is who’s?
A common writer’s trap I find in quite a few books is when every problem could be fixed if the characters just sat around a table and spoke the truth to each other. This book’s premise had the
danger of falling into that trap. However, the addition of a prejudicial status quo was a unique way to avoid this trap. Each of the girls have been ingrained with mistrust and hate for the other types of powers. So even if one wanted to talk to the other two, she would have to make quite a leap of faith in order to do so.
It is interesting to note that all the girls are called Queens within their own communities. The entire community of poisoners, naturalists, and elementals, simply assumes their Queen will be The Queen. Which means before the competition even begins these three young women have been living their whole life with the expectation that they will win, not that they could win, but that the will win.
I have always felt kindred to stories of teens whose parents expect them to live out a pre-planned life. The push and pull that stems from this, between wanting to follow your heart and making your parental figure proud, is very difficult to navigate during the transition to adulthood. Which makes it a fabulous emotional journey to experience with characters!
An aspect that I found amazingly genuine above all else is that the sister who is the most gifted also has the most confidence to break from the mold of expectation and follow her heart. Whereas the other two who sisters are practically bending over backwards to try and become who their parental figures want them to be, and have very little strength to break away from the mold, simply wanting to fill it. Having the dichotomy of these two ideas within one storyline is fascinating to read.
I’m excited to get my hands on the next one One Dark Throne out now, and the next two coming! Let me know what you think in the comments!