Series: Three Dark Crowns #1
Published by Pan Macmillan on September 22nd 2016
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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.
If only it was that simple. Katharine is unable to tolerate the weakest poison, and Arsinoe, no matter how hard she tries, can’t make even a weed grow. The two queens have been shamefully faking their powers, taking care to keep each other, the island, and their powerful sister Mirabella none the wiser. But with alliances being formed, betrayals taking shape, and ruthless revenge haunting the queens’ every move, one thing is certain: the last queen standing might not be the strongest…but she may be the darkest.
As the youngest of three sisters, I couldn’t resist a story about sister queens who must put aside their natural love and loyalty for each other to battle for a crown. Throw in the fact that it’s been simply AGES since I’ve read a YA fantasy I knew that I was on to a winner with THREE DARK CROWNS.
Told from various perspectives but concentrating on the three young queens, THREE DARK CROWNS tells the story of a mystical island beyond the mist, almost forgotten by the mainland; it holds the last vestiges of magic and intrigue. There live three sisters – triplets birthed by the previous Queen and left to be raised by families whose gifts match each of the sister queens: Katherine the Poisoner, Arinsoe the Naturalist, and Mirabella the Elemental. Each girl possesses a different level of power and their foster families battle to train them to their highest potential before they come of age and are forced to face one another in the ultimate test of power and sacrifice. Which of the three queens will emerge victorious as ‘The Queen’ and be strong enough to face a life of rule and ritual at her sisters’ expense?
I absolutely loved this fantastical story of magic, family and revenge and enjoyed getting to know each of the girls and their various friends and backgrounds. Each of the girls has their own distinct personality and it was clear how affected they were by their different upbringings.
Katherine the Poisoner comes from a long line of queens who have solidified their power through generations of rule and the black council which acts as governors for the island is unwilling to let go of its poison-led majority. Her weakness is a major concern for her people and she faces extreme pressure not to disappoint.
Arinsoe, who like her younger triplet has struggled to show any true power, is more at ease with her weak showing as a Naturalist. Raised in a house of love and friendship, she tries her best to put the upcoming rituals to the back of her mind, enjoying what time she has left with her best friend Jules who she believes would be the true Naturalist queen. This doesn’t mean she won’t fight for her life; simply she refuses to wait until after the crowning for her life to have meaning.
Mirabella, the strongest is lauded the island over and considered the biggest threat. An Elemental, her ability to whip up a storm, control fire and have water yield to her whims, means she is front runner to dispatch her sisters with ease and usher in a new world order. The most emotional of the queens however means she possesses the biggest weakness; she never managed to bury the love for her sisters she holds in her heart since the day they were separated.
Each of the girls is equally likeable, it took a couple of chapters to truly warm to Mirabella as Katherine and Arinsoe are presented first as the underdogs so naturally my sympathies were drawn to them however as the book progressed, I looked forward to each of their tales.
Those who are a lover of romance, there is a little, not enough in my opinion but given the amount of information that needs to be put across for the plot to make sense, in hindsight it would probably choke it but hopefully in future books it will play more of a role.
The interplay however brief between the sisters was the most intriguing part and the set-up for book two ensures some explosive confrontations and heartfelt discussions (fingers crossed!) especially considering THAT ending!
The world building is adequate but at times it was a little confusing and I was left with a lot of unanswered questions regarding the island and its relationship to “the mainland” which seems to pay little attention to the goings-on and therefore why is this island and its rulers considered important? It didn’t really bother me simply because I’m hoping it will be addressed in future books but it did try my patience at times.
The pacing could be a little stilted as there was a lot of talking and plotting rather than action in the lead up to the Beltane Festival where the sisters would officially meet to battle it out but I enjoyed the leisurely pace however the final third was simply thrilling and I devoured it with gusto like a Poisoner at the Gave Noir!
Filled with plenty of intrigue, plotting and darkness, tempered with the simple love and devotion of friendship and family – THREE DARK CROWNS kept me enamoured from start to startling finish and I cannot wait for more!