Author: Kendare Blake
Reading the back of three dark crowns; I hoped for Battle Royale, I expected an enjoyable Hunger Games rip. Maybe that will come in the next book, because the famed queens battle, so touted on the blurb, doesn’t even start until the very end where everything is left on a (depressingly predictable)cliffhanger, with no battle actually happening. This is really frigging cheeky in my opinion. I don’t consider it a spoiler to tell you what doesn’t happen in the book; i.e. nothing Three Dark Crowns said would happen.
But let’s move on and talk about what does happen. Three Dark Crowns actually covers the few months leading up to the queen murder fest, and the drama and alliances that come to fruition in that time.
So while I didn’t get Battle Royale or Hunger Games I did get another very popular franchise; Game of Thrones. Only, if I’m honest, this is more ‘Baby’s first Game Of Thrones’, or, even more accurately, ‘Game of Thrones Tween Edition’. I’m not even a fan of GoT and I felt like I was drowning in parallels (hand amputations, injured animals familiars and the major political players getting toppled by something even the riskiest gambler would never have backed), watered down to make it more YA palatable and overrun with teen drama tropes (love triangles that make no sense, childhood romances that hold water and politicians acting against their own interests because of Wove(Love), to name a few).
The whole thing was about as original as black tie at a wedding, but, to be fair, that doesn’t make the book bad, just predictable. Once I put to bed the fact I was never going to wowed off my seat and gotten used to the strange narrative style (again, not bad, just third person present tense narrative doesn’t read naturally to me) I enjoyed the experience well enough.
The characters were mostly well crafted, bar one who seemed to think she was in a Twilight rip-off rather than a GoT’s one and behaved as such, which was confusing. But Blake has obviously put a lot of effort into delivering on the tease in the blurb; ‘Whose side are you on?’ (even if she forgot the rest of her blurb was irrelevant, yes, I’m salty about that), a lot of effort goes into to giving the three queens equal screen time and both compelling traits and interesting flaws. I can certainly see a reader choosing a side as all the characters are different and well written. I’ll be honest that didn’t happen for me because I disliked all of them. But dislike is not apathy at least; this is a part of the book where the narrative has been crafted for personal reactions to flourish, and I’m sure they will for other readers.
While I can say the book was fine, even fun in parts, I can’t recommend it. Part of this is because of the war between political seriousness that the author seems to be angling for being constantly undermined by tween drama; I like both political intrigue and teen drama, I just don’t think they marry well. The other part is because, to be blunt, the entire book is a prequel to what the series is actually about, it’s a 400 page setup that doesn’t need to be there (the whole thing should have been cut to a detailed opening not relegated to a book by itself) and I’m not keen on shelling out for the next book when, if I’d have known, I probably would just have started at book two.
It’s like the whole world has seen Harry Potter, The Hunger Games, and the Hobbit stretch their movies to breaking point and thought it would be a good idea to see if books can get away with long unnecessary ‘Part One’s’ too. Well, I refuse to take part, I’ voting with my wallet and I vote no.
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.