Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake
On the Island of Fennbirn every Queen gives birth to triplets. One a naturalist, one an elemental, and one a poisoner. The girls are raised separately and when they turn sixteen they are presented to the island, and then begins a fight to the death. They have a year to kill each other. The last one standing gets the crown.
This book was like an insane roller coaster. Usually a books involving some sort of fight to the death will present one clear protagonist for you to root for. This book did not. The three sisters each had their own strengths and weaknesses, their own people that loved them, their own dark side and light side. And I honestly don’t know which one is my favorite. There’s not one girl that I’m hoping will defeat the others and become queen. I kinda just want them to all run away together and be friends.
Katharine is the darkest of the sisters. Raised by poisoners she has grown up knowing that the last three Queens were all poisoners and they expect her to be the next Queen. But her poisoner gift it very weak. Poisoners are supposed to be unaffected by poisons, no matter how strong. But despite rigorous poisons training she is not. She has developed a slight tolerance, and an immunity to some but she cannot live on poisoned food the way the other poisoners do. She is good at mixing poisons though and is very eager to find creative ways to poison her sisters and claim her crown.
The Poisoners seem like the obvious choice for the bad guys. They’re haughty and they love eating poisoned food. That just seems ominous. But Natalia, the head of the poisoner family and Katharine’s ward obviously loves Katharine. She wants Katharine to be a game piece that she is using to keep the island’s ruling council in poisoner hands, but she loves Katharine like a daughter and honestly wants her to be Queen just to keep her alive.
And Pietyr, a young poisoner, is presented as a character that will manipulate Katharine to further achieve the poisoner agenda. He is supposed to teach her to be charming so all the suitors will fall in love with her instead of her sisters. I fully expected Katharine to fall in love with him and him to break her heart. But instead they fell in love with each other, and in the end Pietyr chose her over the poisoner agenda.
At the beginning of the story I saw the poisoners as dark evil characters, by the end though I cared about them. They were still dark and cruel, but the story line for them was very humanizing.
Arsinoe is surrounded by a more obviously friendly group of characters. She is the naturalist, supposed to have a familiar, be able to call and control animals, and cause plants to bloom and stay alive even after they’re picked. But like Katharine her gift is non existent. Her best friend though is the most powerful naturalist alive. Her friends clearly care about her and don’t want her to die. But Arsinoe has no belief that she will become Queen because she has no gift. But she isn’t a tragic or depressed character, she is strong and wild and goes about her life in an almost defiant manner. She is very likable but she seems more of a secondary character next to Jules who is powerful and has a mountain lion as her familiar.
Mirabella was probably my favorite of the sisters. She is an elemental and her gift is very strong. She call storms and lightening and fire and earthquakes. But in a way she is also the weakest of the sisters. She is guarded and raised by priestess who keep her under lock and key and lie to her quite a lot. Many times I thought that if Mirabella didn’t want to stay with them she could just call on her gift and there would be nothing they could do to stop her. But she doesn’t, she just goes along meekly, unhappily, but meekly. But she is the only one who cares about her sisters. She has dreams about when they were children together and she doesn’t want to kill them. She also has people that love her but the high priestess who is the closest thing she has to a mother, is more interested in using her than her well-being.
I thought this was a really good book. It has a lot of character development and lots of strong well-developed characters and the plot is insane. Just when you think you know where its going there’s a big plot twist that just throws everything into chaos again.
I would highly recommend this book and I cannot wait for book 2.