Thursday, September 15, 2016

The Quest to Be Queen • Three Dark Crowns

Three Dark Crowns book cover
Rachel & I have decided to switch up the way we do Friends with ARCs! We’ll still be asking a fun question related to, or inspired by, the novel we read. But we’re breaking down our reviews into three parts – plot, characters and writing – and then telling you our overall feelings. But before we get to my thoughts, allow me to tell you a little bit about Three Dark Crowns, the upcoming novel from Kendare Blake. 

Three Dark Crowns is set in a society where three sister queens are brought up separately, each gifted with a special ability - one elemental, one poisoner and one naturalist. Until they come of age, they are trained by their foster families and their abilities are given the ability to manifest. Arsinoe, Mirabella and Katherine are sister queens who are nearing the time when they will meet once again - and only one of them can stay alive and be crowned queen.

Plot? Honestly, the way the plot was outlined in the summary made this novel sound epic. A battle to the death between three potential future queens with different abilities where only one could emerge the victor? Like I said – EPIC. While the bare bones of the scenario were definitely there, I found that it fell short of the potential I sensed initially. I personally feel like it had a lot to do with the fact that there was a lot of time spent in building up to the showdown and to introduce the characters; there was definitely a lot less action that I thought there would be. 

Characters? I didn’t particularly like any one character over the others, especially in the case of the three queens. Everyone felt a bit underdeveloped, if I’m being honest, and I’m hard-pressed to pick an actual favorite (though I will say that I actually quite liked Jules, who was the most interesting individual in the entire story in my humble opinion; if you want me to pick one of the queens, I’d say Mirabella intrigues me most). I can’t deny that readers will get a pretty strong sense of who each character is, but it feels like you’re only really getting access to one aspect of their personality versus a cohesive look at who this character, who this person actually is.

Writing? I was neither particularly impressed, nor turned off by the writing, so I suppose you could say that I thought it was alright. I did think that the beginning was a tiny bit clunky, and the words didn’t quite flow as well together as I would have liked. It got better within the first couple of chapters, though. And I think that many readers are going to find the writing easy to read and will fly through the pages.

Overall? I could totally see the potential in this story right from the start. There were definitely bits that I thought were really good, most often having to do with the magical abilities each queen possessed. But the execution of this story just failed to be my particular cup of tea, and I found it unimpressive – which made me sad, considering how intriguing I found the premise before I ever cracked open the story.

Which ability would you like to have? 

Each of the three queens is gifted with a different ability: one is a naturalist, able to wield power over plants and animals; one is an elemental, with power over the four elements of air, earth, fire and water; and one is a poisoner, with power related to poisons. Of these abilities, I think I’d most like to be an elemental. I would love to have some control over the elements, and I think the magic I could do would be an endless source of fascination for me.


Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake
Series: Untitled #1
Publisher: Harper Teen | Publication Date: September 20, 2016
Source: ARC downloaded from Edelweiss (Thanks!)

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. And the last queen standing gets the crown.

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