(Review): Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake

(Review): Three Dark Crowns by Kendare BlakeThree Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake

Published by Pan Macmillan on September 22nd 2016
Genres: Family, Fantasy, Fantasy & Magic, Fiction, General, Love & Romance, Royalty, Siblings, Young Adult, Young Adult Fiction
Pages: 356
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher

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Three sisters. One crown. A fight to the death.

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

Three Sisters. One Throne. A Fight to the Death.

That’s the tagline for Three Dark Crowns and it fits this novel perfectly. Think The Hunger Games for magical royal triplets.

Three sisters were separated as children and sent to families chosen to best help them with their gifts. Katharine was raised to be the most artful and deadly poisoner by the Arrons. Arsinoe lives with the Milones and is surrounded by the strongest naturalists in living memory. Mirabella’s gifts are the stuff of legends and the temple has helped her develop her ferocious elemental talents. Now sixteen, the girls must follow tradition with only the strongest of the three surviving and becoming the Queen Crowned.

But things are never as simple as just a little sororicide (the act of killing one’s sister). This generation of queens are different from those who have come before them. Katharine the poisoner and Arsinoe the naturalist are seen as weak and destined to be taken down by Mirabella with ease. Politics are in play and the battle for the crown is up for grabs. Mix in potential consorts, dark traditions and three girls each with something to live for.  The fight for the crown is just getting started.

In many ways Three Dark Crowns felt like a prequel to a story we hadn’t read yet but after 3DC you know that you need the next book in your hands already. This is the queen sisters’ origin story. We get to know Kat, Arsinoe and Mira on their birthday as they begin the journey to determining the next Queen Crowned. All three have grown up knowing only one of them will live through their sixteenth year but each one of them has been raised with different expectations placed upon them. Mirabella is incredibly gifted and strong with many expecting her to win without much effort. Whereas Arsinoe is almost the opposite with no apparent gift and she lives her life with no real preparation for the future. Kat lies somewhere in-between with much talent for poisons but not a huge tolerance for them. It’s an interesting mix and it works well. There is a sense that the triplets are regular girls except for the whole only one can live whilst the others survive thing going on.

It didn’t take long for me to connect with each of the sisters. They are completely different and it was easy to follow their interwoven lives because of that. I liked that the novel showed that they were a product of not just genetics but how important their environments were to their development. The poisoners, elementalists and naturalists were fascinating to read about. They each have their own rituals and traditions with politics and religion playing important roles in the battle for the next ruling queen.

Three Dark Crowns is a book full of magic, mystery and a dash of romance. This is a series opener which will make you hungry for the next book. It is not too long or busy with world building for those who are intimidated with epic sagas but it is full of all that wonderfully compelling stuff like danger, murderous plots and power. I’m already eager for One Dark Throne (the next book in the series) because I can’t wait to indulge myself in this world with Kat, Arinsoe and Mirabella again.


Many thanks to Pan Macmillan Australia for the review copy



  1. “The Hunger Games for magical royal triplets.”

    Well, you have absolutely sold me. OMG this sounds amazing. It’s on my stack (which is getting bigger, despite the fact that I haven’t requested books for months…lol). YES can’t wait!

    • That sounds like a pretty good problem to have 😀
      This was an unsolicited book for me too but I’m glad I had the chance to read and review. I tried to read Antigoddess by Kendare Blake and never actually finished it. Now, having read and really enjoyed 3DC I may go see what all the fuss over Anna Dressed in Blood is about! 😀

    • It is a book where I’ve read negative reviews and I understand why other readers felt how they did but I still stand by my review. I liked the characters and trying to work out what was going to happen. It’s a solid series opener but I am expecting big things with the next book and it will either make or break the series for me.

  2. Glad to see a positive review of this one from you. It’s been one I’ve been curious about since its cover was revealed. The premise sounds intriguing and it’s nice to know the three sisters are different (sometimes books with more than one “lead” doesn’t distinguish their characters enough). Looking forward to reading this one soon!

    • This one does distinguish the leads. Part of that is because they are all in different locations but also because they are very different because of the people who raised them. I’m really excited about the next book because I feel like now we can get onto the girls being a little more cutthroat. 😀

  3. I am so on the fence of picking this one up, so many mixed reviews, but it’s awesome to see the both world of them. The concept just sounds a tad familiar to me, but I love fantasy so..might give it a shot.

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