February 19, 2017

Book Review: THREE DARK CROWNS by Kendare Blake

Book:  Three Dark Crowns
Author:  Kendare Blake
Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction
Publisher:  Harper Teen
Blurb via Goodreads:
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.
My Review:
Dark. Twisted.
Two words that best describes the first book that was able to drag me out of my reading slump of 6 months. It's not my usual cup of "happy ever afters" but that's what made reading it fun. 
This is about three sisters, triplets, who are also queens. One is a poisoner (a master of poisons and is immune from it), a naturalist (one with the power to make things grow and is able to bond with an animal) and an elementalist (one in control of the elements: fire, air, water). They are separated as children to be raised by others like them knowing full well that in time, only one of three can survive and ascend as THE Queen. 
Among them, Katharine has had the hardest life. She is raised by poisoners and has had to endure years of pain and poison to strengthen her tolerance against them, to no avail. With the ascension year fast approaching, she has to learn fast or fake her way to winning the crown to ensure that the throne will remain with the poisoners, as it has been for many years. 
Arsinoe fares better. Living among naturalists has given her much freedom to roam about and develop close relationships, especially with Jules who also happens to be an exceptionally gifted naturalist. But no matter how closely attached they are, or the many hours they train each day, Jules' talent can not rub off on her queen. For all intents and purposes, Arsinoe is giftless still, just like Katharine. 
Mirabella is blessed the most in that her elemental gifts came early. There was never a question of her gift or her beauty. So among the 3, she was judged early as the Probable next queen.
Book 2 comes out in September 
They have been trained to believe that it is essential they kill their sisters as it is the will of the goddesses but Mirabella has the hardest time accepting it. She still remembers her sisters, their childhood and how much they loved and protected each other. 
So the question is, will Mirabella be able to convince her sisters to reconcile and rule together, if it is even possible, before she gets killed? Or will Katharine, the one most manipulated and broken, be too beaten to even recognize the possibilities? Will Arsinoe?
The story shifts in different perspectives every chapter so as a reader, I understood well enough each of the three queens. They have differing personalities and circumstances so I do not have a favorite. I can't root for one to live while the other two die. And though Katharine rubs me off as cold and desperate, she is also the most tortured of all. She is a product of her miseducation and so deserves the benefit of expanded patience and understanding. Arsinoe seems strong and weak at the same time but is kind at the root of it. Mirabella strength is her time honed power but her weakness lies in the simple fact that she loves her sisters and it could very well lead to her death in the next book..... though I certainly hope not.
I do like love stories and all three queens have one..... sort of.  Most intriguing is the friendship between Arsinoe and the suitor Billy.... But that's a toss up with Joseph's triangle with Mirabella and Jules.... Then again the cruel end to Pietyr's and Katharine's relationship is one to watch too.... Did it push her over the edge literally and figuratively?
The author created an intriguing world and the writing is smooth save for some moments of slowness plus a number of unexplained matters like what exactly is a war gift? How do naturalists bond with their familiars? Are poisoners born or made etc....
Like I said, this book is dark and it is twisted. And though there are no graphic sex scenes, they are more than implied. Add that to the violence peppered in the book, I say be cautious about recommending this to readers younger than 15. 
The cliffhanger ending book 1 is a gift. I can't say it didn't cross my mind throughout the book since it seemed impossible that two out of three are giftless. All the same it leaves one more than curious for the follow up book.
 Happy reading!