Fans of acclaimed author Kendare Blake’s Anna Dressed in Blood will devour her latest novel, a dark and inventive fantasy about three sisters who must fight to the death to become queen.
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.
I received this ARC while attending BEA earlier this year. I was in no way compensated for this review.
Where to begin, where to begin? I adored Kendare Blake's Anna Dressed in Blood duology and plan to finish up her Goddess War trilogy soon, so I was most ecstatic to snag a copy of her newest book, Three Dark Crowns! But sadly, most terribly, terribly, sadly, it as not at what I had been expecting.
Let me just say that fantasies can be hit or miss for me. Sometimes the world-building is so overwhelming and at times most confusing, and I think that's what happened here, for me at least. I like to know what I'm getting into when entering new fantasy worlds! U need details. At least told in a way that gives me an understanding of how the world works. And we get that in some way with this one, but I think it was just too little for me.
Firstly, this book is told through more points of view than I anticipated. I pretty much thought we'd be meeting each of the sisters. And we do. Along with these other points of view of people they each talk with. The sisters were separated when they were young and raised alone for most of their childhood. Their family is gone pretty much, at least from what I gathered. And they are told that one day they will have to kill their sisters in order to be the queen of the island that they live on. The island is divided into three parts from the looks of things .And the girls are raised to believe that they will be queen if they kill their sisters.
Katharine's specialty is poison. She can ingest it without dying and it's seen as a great strength. Though I was confused with some things that happened concerning her abilities and I don't know what that will mean for her in the end game. Arsione's powers haven't really come into fruition at the moment, but it's believed that she will have an animal familiar, one she can control and have a deep connection with. Her best friend, Jules, has a familiar that's a mountain cat and their bond is strong. Then finally we meet Mirabella who has control over the elements, or possibly just fire as that what's we see her wield the most. As I said, I had massive bouts of confusion with this one. It was so hard to focus on the sisters individually when there were still so many other people coming onto the page.
Jules for instance, has a lot of page time. I first thought maybe she was meant to be the second sister, but that's not the case. Nope. Though I did enjoy her character. She was strong and fierce and loyal to Arisone. Then there were the priestesses, I couldn't keep track of how many there were, but they basically guided the girls into their queendom. And their characters were confusing as well, very duplicit--is this a word?--as they acted one way with the girls and another among themselves.
There was a bit of romance going on with some of the girls as well. Katharine has a friend who helps "train" her to be queenly and how to flirt, so naturally, sparks fly! And then there was some shocking and twisted outcome that came from that. I'm not even sure what the deal with that was! But I do think we are supposed to be confused and shocked by that detail! LOL! Mirabella has a love dalliance going on as well. But it's most surprising who that turns out to be. I wasn't really a fan of that since he was in a relationship already and he didn't seem to know who to be with, so he loved them both. Not a fan of that at all! Arsione...I don't think she was really in a possible love connection. There was a boy or maybe two, but I didn't get the love dovey feels from them. She was an enjoyable character regardless, so it seemed romance wasn't necessarily on the table for her and she could care less!
There's so much more I want to talk about as well, but I can't be sure if it's spoilery or not. That's pretty much how confused I became. I basically struggledto read this thing through and I wasn't really comprehending what it was that I was reading 100%. This definitely made the pacing seem slower than it should be. Seriously, as I finished reading this one and stepped away from it, I'm thinking...what did I just read? What happened? Who was the hero and who was the villain? Who's truthful and who's deceptive? There are just so many things I don't understand about this book. And I wanted to love and adore it. So coming away and feeling the opposite of those feelings doesn't sit right with me.
As it stands I don't know if I will continue with this series. I might not, but then again,I might try for one more book. Give it one more go...I just don't know. With some of the deceptions that were going on and how they were revealed in those last few chapters, I am curious to see how they turn out. And we had quite another bombshell of a reveal in the last few lines of the book. It definitely makes me rethink some things that have happened with a character or two.
And while I still have an overall sense if confusion over this new world I just visited, I can't say for sure that I am totally done with it just yet. I might be stubborn enough to give it another go. We shall see!
Overall Rating 2.5/5 stars--again, this means it was slightly better than okay, but not quite a full "I liked it" kind of read either.
Three Dark Crowns releases September 20, 2016