Release Date: 09/20/16 | Fantasy| 9 hours 52 minutes
I’m slowly learning fantasy just may not be my genre, I read a couple a year and have always been lukewarm on most of them but this book came through on my holds the same week the sequel hit the bestseller’s list so I decided to check it out.
Now, I do remember this book being talked about during BEA 2016 and Three Dark Crowns is pretty much What You See Is What You Get; Three sisters; Mirabella, Arsinoe and Katharine must kill their sisters in order to take the crown and become Queen of their island nation.
What I wasn’t expecting is just how much of a prequel this book is to that major plot point. For most of the book we follow the sisters, who were separated and raised on separate parts of the island territories, as they prepare for Belltane– the official event that means they can start trying to kill each other. I liked getting backstories on all of the sisters but it was just a lot. We have to learn the customs, magical abilities, culture and a host of side characters for three different areas. It felt like reading three books at once.
I think my biggest hurdle with this book is that I couldn’t get on board with this way of governing. In the back of the book Blake hints that the idea of sisters killing each other to be queen is based on what happens in beehives when more than one queen bee in born but I’m not sure it tracks with humans. It gets explained as being part of their religion and “this is the way things are” type thing, but I don’t see why each sister couldn’t just be queen of each territory ?
Speaking of territories, the sisters are supposed to have a magical ability native to the people in the territory they are raised in. These abilities are kind of treated like a race and the primary abilities just felt real incongruous. Like, Mirabella is a elemental so she can control the elements like fire and water, Arsinoe is a naturalist so she can control animals and plants but then like Katharine is poisonser which means she has a tolerance for poisons and also…knows how to make poisons ? I just don’t get how that is an ability.
Three Dark Crowns exists in a heavily matriarchal society so there are a lot of different female character and audiobook narrator Amy Landon has an expansive range of female voices. The audiobook was especially helpful with the pronunciations but that said, it’s helpful to have the map in the physical version.
By the way shout out to the character of Billy (yeah, this book also has a weird Arieth and Bob situation too) who is from the mainland and comes to the island nation as a suitor to the queens. We don’t get into how the mainland and island are connected but Billy isn’t familiar with the how anything works on the island. Literally every other line of dialogue is him either asking a question or going “WTF is this place.” I’d been more annoyed with him if I didn’t have the exact same questions he did.
Will I do the sequel ? Probably, because that cliffhanger tho !
I’m a lifelong reader who started blogging about YA books in 2011 but now I read in just about every genre! I love YA coming of age stories, compelling memoirs and genre bending SFF. You can find me talking all things romance at Romance and Sensibility.