Adapted from : GoodReads
As the middle child of seven kids (half, step and otherwise), I know a thing or two about sibling squabbles. If it wasn’t “mom told you to do the dishes this time!” it was “that isn’t yours!” or “oh my god please stop embarrassing me”. But I had it easy compared to Arsinoe, Mirabella and Katherine, three triplets queens who, on their 16th birthdays, are destined to fight each other to the death for rights to the throne.
Yeah. You thought you had it rough.
Kendare Blake is well known for her Anna Dressed in Blood series (which I have admittedly not read) and from what I can gather, her books tend to have a horror vibe to them. This couldn’t be further from my usual kind of fiction (I gave myself nightmares when I read Agatha Christie’s And then there were none in high school, so you can imagine), but the synopsis was intriguing to me. It had just the right amount of fantasy to catch my attention (Sort of spoiler: though it also sort of falls in the realm of magical realism I think… characters who come from off the island say that the girls are treated as a children’s story and call the girls witches. It also suggests that the way of life off the island is very non-magical. It makes it feel like Fennbirn might exist like it’s own bubble in our world. Too hard to judge here though, and who knows if that’s actually important yet). Then I found out that Indigo Yorkdale here in Toronto was going to be hosting Blake for an author chat, so I figured hey, why not pick it up and get a signed copy while I was at it.
All I have to say it thank you Indigo!
Though very different from the typical YA story I enjoy, I was delighted to find that Blake writes an amazing narrative that is as painful as it is hauntingly beautiful. Her writing and tone is flowy yet dark without being too wordy or confusing. The split narrative also allows you to get inside each of the queen’s heads and makes their reality that much harder to swallow. When I met Blake, she asked who my favourite of the three queens was. I told her then that I couldn’t make up my mind then, and that remains just as true now. Though I can tell you that if I had the choice, I’d crown all the queens and toss (SPOILER!:) Joseph over a cliff, Peityr style. Reading pages 180 and 181, all I could think was “please no, please no, please no”, and then I turned to page 182 and swore out loud in frustration. It was such a well-crafted moment, but also NO.
Each queen has a special power that she is trained from a young age to use to help her take the throne. As the book opens, the throne has been controlled by poisoner queens for quite some time. Katherine is their representation. Mirabella is a very powerful elementalist, while Arsinoe trains with the naturalists. Of all the powers, I have to say that I would most want to be a naturalist. They form bonds with a partner animal, and it is the sweetest thing ever. All I wanted growing up was for my cat to be able to communicate with me and we’d go on super cool adventures. So yes. This power spoke to me.
Also, super SPOILERY discussion coming up, but: that ending was so full of twists and turns, and it was perfect. Katherine survived! Arsinoe is a poisoner! (though with a name like Arsinoe, it’s just embarrassing that I didn’t call that one sooner). The whole Peityr pushing Katherine down the cliff thing was sadly not surprising. I am very interested to see how Katherine survived. Is it maybe that she’s actually a naturalist and was saved by her animal? Is she actually an elementalist and used wind or something? Idk. I’m just looking forward to it being revealed in the next book.
Three Dark Crowns is a duology with the second book coming out next September, and you can bet that I’ll be all over that release. Until then, I’ll look at the beautiful cover and hopefully stop dreaming that I’m one of the triplets trying to kill my sisters.
Okay, that was only one time, but still.