Rating – 4.75 out of 5
Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake is a vicious novel. Perfect for October, Blake sets the stage for three young sisters and queens all with varying degrees of magical powers to compete for the crown once they turn 16. While their childhoods were violent and dark, it will only get darker as only one can be Queen, and she must kill her sisters to gain that title.
“Arsinoe studies the tapestry hung behind the head table and frowns…It depicts the crowning of the island’s last great naturalist queen. Bernadine, who weighed orchards heavy with fruit when she passed and had an enormous gray wolf for a familiar. In the weaving, Bernadine stands below a tree sagging with apples, with the wolf beside her. In the wolf’s jaws is the torn out throat of one of her sisters, whose body lies at Bernadine’s feet.
‘I hate that thing,’ Arsinoe says.
‘Because it reminds me of what I’m not.'”
– Three Dark Crowns, Pg. 37
Why I liked Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake
Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake was shockingly violent and brutal. If violence is hard for you to read, this is not the book for you. The book sets the stage early by making it obvious how the three Queens – Katherine, Mirabella, and Arsinoe, are not seen as humans but as vessels of the goddess of the island. They are routinely sacrificed by their loved ones in one way or another in the name of the island. While there are characters who genuinely love and care for the different queens, the main objective of having one queen win out is always there.
Three Dark Crowns is not for the faint of heart. Blake relishes going into the gory details of everything from poisoning to dismemberment and death. That is part of the appeal. While the story was solid and I wanted to know from moment to moment what the characters would do next, Three Dark Crowns also felt like a train wreck you could not look away from. The story was so well put together, but the cruelty of this world was shocking. Right down to the world-building of setting up a system where three young women have to kill each other. I found this to be something unique within YA lit that I had not seen since The Hunger Games. I thoroughly enjoyed the shock, and read the next one soon after (and will write about One Dark Throne soon!).
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