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.
Ok, so, I binged through this whole series via audiobooks and my unnaturally long car rides lately. I absolutely loved the first two books, but I had significantly less love for book number three.
In Three Dark Crowns, I was really in love with the presentation. I loved that the story seemed to revolve around the place more than the characters and Blake’s narrative style never left me confused, which considering it’s written in third person omniscient, that’s pretty impressive. Like, five stars impressive. In fact, it felt incredibly episodic. I could easily see this whole series turned into a TV show and my nerdy ass would be firmly planted on my couch with a bowl of popcorn each week to watch.
I think that narration worked really well, actually, because instead of making sure each of the sisters, their friends, and their caretakers all have unique narrative voices, Blake was able to jump between these characters without beating me over the head with the POV change.
It also worked really well to hint that something was wrong with one of the queens. After being thrown into the center of the island, Katharine climbs her way back to life, but she is exponentially stronger than when she went in. Her coming back was suspicious enough, but with her gifts and personality change, the arch is even more intriguing. And because we’re distanced by the narrative instead of lead to experience it as we are in first person, we have the room to speculate what happened to her.
The second book is action-packed, full of betrayals, murder, and all sorts of scheming and the writing remains on par with the first one. We picked up right where the first book ended and missed no time at all.
Which is probably why the third book, Two Dark Reigns, has been such a turn-off. It seems months have passed, lives have happened, and an uprising, which was only hinted at before, has already started. Names of dead queens are dropped but we’d never heard of them before. Katharine has been scaring herself. The island’s mist, its defense system, is especially thick and eating people.
And I want to see when this happened. It may be that it’s in the companion novels but it’s barely recapped at the end of the series proper. We don’t see life on the mainland as the two queens who fled there are already on their way back at the beginning of book three, we don’t see the mist take its first life, we don’t see Jules come into her War Gift or accept her role as the Legion Cursed Queen, and we don’t even see her mother get captured–we just sort of find out that Katharine has managed to do so.
Overall, I did enjoy the series, but it peters out at the end, as so many books nowadays.
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