Published on September 20, 2016 by HarperTeen
[This book was given to me by the Publisher, this in no way affected my opinion.]
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.I wanted to read this one ever since it was released the synopses, since it's a YA fantasy focused on three girls and I'm so glad I had a chance to read it, it was amazing, with a few peeves but overall an amazing start to a new fantasy series. The thing that most comes to attention with this one is the fact that this whole world is super female focused, we not only have always Queens (and the King is just a consort, with no real power) but also the bigger power figures of this society are always female, in this stance it reminded me of the Seven Realms series by Cinda Williams Chima.
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.
If only it was that simple. Katharine is unable to tolerate the weakest poison, and Arsinoe, no matter how hard she tries, can’t make even a weed grow. The two queens have been shamefully faking their powers, taking care to keep each other, the island, and their powerful sister Mirabella none the wiser. But with alliances being formed, betrayals taking shape, and ruthless revenge haunting the queens’ every move, one thing is certain: the last queen standing might not be the strongest…but she may be the darkest.
Other thing that caught my attention was how much political focused it was, if you like your fantasies full of battles, fast paced action this may not be the best for you but if you like stories about struggles of power and court stuff this will probably please you. I really liked the way this enriched the narrative, I was honestly never bored and/or found this too slow, even thought we don't have action happening there is a lot of world building surrounding this Island and the magic that revolves around it. Also a plus for me, this whole elemental (?) magic reminded me of The Impostor Queen, the whole atmosphere of the story too.
We follow this story in third person but mostly through the eyes of Katharine, Mirabella, Arsinoe and Jules. Katharine is the poisoner queen and right from the start she was my favorite, I kind of suffered for this because around the middle part she doesn't have that much POV's but still, she went through a character arc in this book that was amazing, starting as a pretty weak and sheltered girl, to getting more into herself and with the ending I hope even more things from her in the sequel, I mean, like seriously her last line gave me chills, guys, chills.
Mirabella is probably my least favorite character of the story, I just can't sympathize or connect with her, first she is all good and rainbows, sounding like a Disney character and I'm sorry, but I don't like this shit. Them she kinds of try to grow a back bone but I didn't understood why she continued to be repressed and controlled over and over again if her power was so big, she could shake the earth, cause a fucking storm to kill everyone on that Island why the fuck does she keep getting crap and not doing a freaking thing. I don't understand you girl.
I guess a lot of my hate has to do with the romance (more on that later) and the priestesses, both of which I hated. The priestesses reminded me of the Sparrows plot on Game of Thrones, with their greed for power and their subtle (or not so much) plots to try to take over a council they think it's corrupted from being so much time in the poisoners hands.
Arsinoe was probably my biggest surprise in this story, she and Jules live together so their chapters are usually (always?) together and their story started out pretty meh for me, but around the middle it gets more importance is probably the biggest and more relevant, I dare say, of this installment of the series. Arsinoe is supposed to have the naturalist gift, but so far she hasn't show any aptitude towards it and with her sixteenth birthday coming up this means she will die, literally, I grew to respect this girl so much, she has a strength that isn't measured in power but on resilience, Jules on the other hand is the most powerful naturalist on the last I don't know how much years and her strength is more physical, despite it I didn't cared much about her.
What made me care more about Arsinoe along the story is because of the friendship that develops between her, Jules, Joseph and Billy, a possible king consort that comes to visit her, it was slow and weird at first because of certain things of the past and the fact that Billy is there to courtship Arsinoe so that he can be a King, but they begrudgingly find their place in this group and really cared about each other. Also, the Queens went at the age of 6 to stay with families that have the same powers as they, to train and grew apart from each other and at first, it seemed something more about power but at end I could see how much these families cared and are so faithful about their Queens, it was touching.
Now, the romance, oh why did you had to exist and why did it had to go into so many cliche routes, it was such a good book with powerful female characters, why oh why. We have Katharine and Pietyr, which at first seemed fine, because they are both using each other to achieve their goals, her of getting the crown, him of getting a seat at the council and I could totally get into a romance like this, with they cunning to take over this Island and having make out sessions in between but them, all of sudden they are all "We can't fall in love with each other" and it's so clear where this is heading, I also already said that Katharine doesn't have the most of the POVs, so we don't get much of their interactions and no, big no, but with the ending I think this is over so at least there is hope.
This I guess will contain a bit of spoilers but its only regarding the romance. Joseph got banished of the Island when he was 11 and he and Jules were like the best of the friends, right at the start Jules and Joseph meet each other after 5 years apart, and everyone is acting like they were a couple already and she is already thinking of him more than in a friendly way and him too, but they were separated when they were only 11 years old !!!! 11 years old wouldn't think of their friends that way, it freaked me out and it too quickly and sudden since they had this build up we don't get to see, but I could be forgiven you know, maybe I just wouldn't get an OTP out of this book but oh no, it had to enrage me with a love triangle that came OUT OF NOWHERE and it was 100% unnecessary, it also involved cheating and instalove, so big no.
Okay, I guess there a explanation because of some *things* that happen that involve magic but god, wish it didn't existed. So Mirabella saves Joseph and OF COURSE they end up having sex in a cave and after that they just have this undeniable attraction for each other, even though Joseph continues to swears Jules is the love of his life and Mira knows it, they just can't keep away from each other, after "meeting" for one day, this dragged so much and I think it will keep going in the next book and I'm sad, because it irritated me SO MUCH each time it came into the story. At this point I just want Joseph to die a slow and painful death so that we can get over this.
Despite this terrible romantic choices, Three Dark Crowns was a really good read, I got invested right from the first chapters and always wanted to pick it up again to read more and more. It is definitely different from most of the YA fantasy that I have read in the last few years, with much more focus on politics and the magic existing in this Island than in action packed plot, it also had a great set of main characters and the ending left me wanting the next book so, so, so much, despite the terrible romantic choices our characters make I suggest you give this one a shot if fantasy is your thing.