Dark Fantasy is Good Fantasy. Three Dark Crowns [Book Review]

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Title: Three Dark Crowns
Author: Kendare Blake
Type: Fiction
Genre: Dark Fantasy, Young Adult
Publisher: HaperTeen
Date Published: September 20th, 2016
Format: Hardcover/Paperback/Ebook
Page Count: 398
Source: Author Website


Summary:
Three dark queens
are born in a glen,
sweet little triplets
will never be friends

Three dark sisters
all fair to be seen,
two to devour
and one to be Queen

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.” -Kendare Blake’s Website


Three Dark Crowns was another random Barnes and Noble trip find. I think it was back in October when I stumbled upon it. I was immediately drawn to the cover (like so many other people who have this problem), but it was the summary of the novel that vexed me. I think anything with the word “dark” in it has me beguiled. Hence, my love for the dark romanticism period. This is probably also why I am drawn to dark poetry. Hell…I think I just love the dark! I love tales that are considered “wrong” or “taboo,” because those type of stories make the best type of stories.

The summary on the inside jacket is the same one placed above (see summary section again if you have already forgotten). It wasn’t really the summary of the novel itself that made me curious but the mini poem/rhyme placed on the back. I think anything that rhymes just kind of sticks with a person…if you know what I mean? It is the way your brain correlates songs and poems. That’s why in most cases song lyrics rhyme. It makes it much easier to remember. Plus, (like I have said before), I am a sucker for anything dark and fanatical.

Each of the three sisters is completely different, even though they are triplets. You have Mirabella the strong elemental, who everyone favors in becoming queen (it’s almost as if she is pre-crowned to be queen in the story). Mirabella seems strong-willed and more reasonable out of the three. Then there is Katherine, who is the smallest of the three, but has somewhat of a poisoners gift. She has the gift but it seems to be very weak throughout the whole book. Kathrine is also very gullible and impressionable. Lastly we have Arisnoe, a spunky naturalist who doesn’t take s**t from anyone. She is supposed to be a naturalist with an animal familiar. Her gift is none existent the whole time, but she tries so hard for it to blossom in the beginning of the story. These triplets come from generations before them, but to me it seemed like maybe this generation lacked in the gift department. The story also talks about people who have the sight gift (which lets them see bits of the future) and the war gift (which makes warriors strong in battle). There are other variables talked about in this story but I don’t want to give too much away without spoiling the story!

I think I almost enjoyed the supporting characters in this story more so than the main characters. Jules Milone was Arisone’s childhood friend (but also caretaker as she grew up), who had a cougar for a familiar. She was currently the strongest naturalist on the island. Joseph Sandrin, (who also grew up with Arisnoe but tried to help her escape the island when they were children), came back to the island after a 5 year banishment. He was no longer a boy, but grew up into a handsome man. Jules and Joseph had been in love with each other since they were wee kids. (Let the shipping begin!)

Over on Mirabella’s end you had Elizabeth, a temple priestess with a woodpecker familiar named Pepper. She hides him in her white cloak because she isn’t supposed to have him. There is also Bree Westwood, another temple priestess, who has helped Mirabella since they were young. And finally we have Luca, the High Priestess who favors Mirabella becoming queen of Fennbirn. Her second in command is Priestess Rho, (who seems a bit shady to me and I didn’t really care for her.)

It seems like Katherine is deficit in the companion department. She has Natalia Arron, who is her keeper but a harsh one at that. Natalia is a bit more lenient then her sister, Genevieve, who likes to punish Katherine with poison as much as she possibly can. These two sisters head the Black Council (which currently controls the island). Then you have aristocratic Peityr (which is pronounced Peter), who comes waltzing in to Greavesdrake Manor and swoops Katherine up under his wing. He is the nephew of Natalia and promises her that he will care for Katherine, as long as he receives a seat on the Black Council in return for Katherine’s crowning.

If you are looking for an action packed fantasy book then this one isn’t for you. Three Dark Crowns is a bit slow in the beginning, but it does pick up quiet exponentially. Blake has to set the premise for what this story is going to be about, so it didn’t surprise me that I had to dig a little deeper to get into the story-line. I knew the novel was going to be fantastic, even if I knew the pay off wouldn’t come till later. I really enjoyed the narrative from all three sister’s perspective. I love when YA novels have more then one narrator without it being overwhelming. I also really loved how the characters spoke. It was formal and proper (which I have a fondness for because the newer generation sucks and is lazy…me included). I was wishing throughout the whole novel that we could speak like that again. Get back to intelligent and concise conversations/ideals. The settings were oh so swell! Blake did a fantastic job describing Fennbirn island, Greavesdrake Manor, Rolanth, and Wolf Spring. (These are the cities that the queens reside in during the novel). The only thing I felt was lacking was the explanation of magical gifts and who the powerful Goddess was. I almost felt like the Goddess was Fennbirn island itself? I wonder if that was Blake’s initial intention? I’m sure we will find out more in the next book! Oh, and yes, there are so many twists at the end of the book that it makes you go…WHAT?!?! You know me, I love me a good ending twist.

Overall, I delighted in this book and its story! I thought it was fresh and exhilarating in terms of plot. While the book might have taken a little while to get off the ground, the characters and settings are what really made this book special. The characters were relatable and you could really feel their emotions throughout the story. I loved the dark underlying elements and themes (it makes me want to know more about the history of the island). Of course the best part was the ending! Once you make it through all the set up and basis of the story-line you are in for a marvelous treat! It will quench your blood thirst for things to possibly go wrong. Great books make you want to read more after the story has ended.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

kendareKendare Blake is the author of several novels and short stories, most of which you can find information about via the links above. Her work is sort of dark, always violent, and features passages describing food from when she writes while hungry. She was born in July (for those of you doing book reports) in Seoul, South Korea, but doesn’t speak a lick of Korean, as she was packed off at a very early age to her adoptive parents in the United States. That might be just an excuse, though, as she is pretty bad at learning foreign languages. She enjoys the work of Milan Kundera, Caitlin R Kiernan, Bret Easton Ellis, Richard Linklater, and the late, great Michael Jackson, I mean, come on, he gave us Thriller.

She lives and writes in Kent, Washington, with her husband, their two cat sons (Tybalt and Tyrion Cattister) and their red Doberman dog son, Obi Dog Kenobi.

Follow her on IG @KendareBlake  or on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/kendare.blake.


If you would like to purchase Three Dark Crowns then click here: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/three-dark-crowns-kendare-blake/1123178046?ean=9780062385437.

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