Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake
Book One of the Three Dark Crowns series
Publication Date: September 20, 2016
Rating: 2 stars
Source: ARC sent by the publisher
Summary (from Goodreads):
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.
What I Liked:
HERE THERE BE SPOILERS (in the next section). You are warned.
I was an actual fool to think I would like this book, after reading a spoiler-filled review that talked about a love triangle - in detail. I actually love spoilers and welcome them (in private, of course), so I was grateful to have read that review. But I somehow convinced myself to read this book anyway. In any case, I read that review the day before I decided to pick up this one and read it. I really should have stay away.
Things I liked about this book - for one, the premise. Triplets raised apart and trained in their respect area of talent to kill each other? Cool. Katherine is a poisoner (a terrible one), Arsinoe is a naturalist (a terrible one), and Mirabella is a beautiful elemental (a really good one). Basically everyone thinks that Mirabella will kill her sisters and win the crown, and with good reason - she is the strongest. But the powerful groups training each girl have as big a role as the girls do, in the process.
I liked Katherine. She seems frail and too sweet at first, but as the book goes on, she gains a lot of confidence. She's still sweet (surprisingly, for a poisoner), but she's more assertive too. I also liked Arsinoe. Her naturalist powers are basically nonexistent, and she pretty much knows that she won't be queen. Yet that doesn't stop her from living life and training. Mirabella... I pretty much disliked her from the start, but the real reason for my hatred of her will come later.
The character I adored the most is not one of the triplets - Julies is Arsinoe's best friend, and the most powerful naturalist (unfortunately for Arsinoe). Arsinoe is never jealous of Jules, which is nice. Jules is kind and selfless, but she has a spine of steel and she is very fiery. I liked Jules a lot, and my heart broke for her throughout the book. She is on the receiving end of The Disgusting Love Triangle to End All Love Triangles, and she deserved so much better.
The book was interesting, engaging, and action-packed (though in a bloodless way). I do see why some reviewers DNF'd before the one-hundred-page mark - it was slow and I didn't feel much toward any of the girls (except Jules) before then. But things picked up. I enjoyed the story (minus what I'm going to complain about next). However, the romance is pretty much the worst and most disgusting part of this book, and killed a lot of my enjoyment.
What I Did Not Like:
Again. HERE THERE BE SPOILERS. You are warned.
I should clarify - I liked Katherine's romance. She and Pietyr, a nephew of one of the women training her, fall for each other. They are both using each other, and they both know how the other is using him/her. Their romance is untainted, though the ending is... weird. Interesting weird.
Arsinoe has a thing possibly happening with one of the suitors, and I think that's cute. That suitor's father has ulterior motives and such, but the boy seems innocent. So they're cute.
It's Jules and her man Joseph that is the issue. Well, mostly Joseph and Mirabella. Jules and Joseph haven't seen each other in five years, but before, when they were children, they adored each other. Five years later, Joseph returns to the island, and the two are inseparable. They are soooo in love, and it's adorable. Jules isn't ready for sex, but they are pretty intimate.
But then one day, Joseph gets caught in a storm and his boat sinks. At the same time, Mirabella is running away, and happens upon Joseph floating, almost dead. So she drags him into a cave and uses her elemental powers to get a fire going. Not even five seconds later... they're having sex.
I kid you not. I don't know if it's some sort of spell, or Joseph is just SO taken with her, or he's delusional from nearly dying, but they start kissing (mind you, he's half-dead, yet able to get it on), and then they have sex. They wake up, and Joseph's in his right mind again. He seems to regret things, and thinks of Jules. BUT THEN, GUESS WHAT. They have sex AGAIN! And probably more times than what was directly stated.
To make matters worse, Joseph returns to Jules and he tells her. She, being smart, does not immediately forgive him. But then the Festival comes up, in which the three queens are brought to keep off the Ascension Year, and guess what? Joseph and Mirabella bump into each other... and kiss. Just kiss, but still. Unbeknownst to Jules, of course. Jules had been planning to have her first time with Joseph at this VERY Festival. And when she makes her move, he shuts her down (first smart thing he does), though he does not tell her why.
Aaaaaand finally, the icing on the cake. Joseph decides he is in love with Mirabella. Dude, they've had sex, but they have not had a decent conversation yet. They know nothing about each other except their bodies. Joseph seems to still love Jules but... apparently he is in serious lust with Mirabella, and thinks he loves her. Mirabella, I think she is in lust with Joseph, but she doesn't love him. I swear, Joseph is on magic crack or something.
Here's the thing; initially I was like UGH MIRABELLA YOU HOEBAG. She doesn't know Jules exists to Joseph the first time she and Joseph has sex... but she knows after that. SHE KNOWS, and still has sex with him. Joseph... he knows he has a girlfriend.
So, look. I don't condone cheating. Ever. I would give a book a negative rating for that alone (which is part of my rating here). But what makes matters worse is THE WAY it happens. So Joseph is half-dead but somehow he and Mirabella still get it on like they have the only penis and vagina left in the world? Insta-lust, okay, but insta-love too? It literally makes no sense. They didn't fall in love, so why is the author making Joseph thinks he's in love with Mirabella?
I'm sorry, guys. I hate love triangles. I especially love triangles with cheating. I ESPECIALLY hate love triangles that make no sense. This love triangle is quite possibly one of the most disgusting love triangles I've ever read. Honestly, I don't care if Joseph WAS under some spell. I hope Jules never speaks to him again. He hurts her not once, not twice, but over and over.
I know we all know this, but sex isn't meaningless. And Joseph... he took something from Jules (i.e. NOT having sex with her). He took away her first time with him, her true love. I don't like that. I don't want Jules and him to get back together. And yet, she is so truly in love with him - he would be the only one she sees. Yet another reason to hate love triangles; Joseph will do all of that and have sex four hundred times with Mirabella, and Jules will be angry but still love him.
Hopefully she doesn't take him back though. Leave him, girl.
Would I Recommend It:
I absolutely 100% do NOT recommend this book. It's an intriguing fantasy story but if you feel even one-tenth of the hatred I have for love triangles, steer clear. Like, don't even binge-read the series next year. Just leave this series and move on with your life. I honestly regret everything.
1.5 stars -> rounded up to 2 stars. I'm rounding up because I did like the story, and I adore some of the girls. I actually do want to read book two, but ONLY because this series is a duology (if it were a trilogy, pshhh, bye Felicia). Maybe I'm setting myself up for more torture. But I'm dying to know what will happen to Katherine and Pietyr. And if Jules will kick Joseph the ho's behind. I hope she does, or Arsinoe. (Arsinoe is pissed, guys. Yay for best friend backing!)
Was this review helpful? Please let me know in the comments section!