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There Can Be Only One…

Three sisters, one throne. There's no sharing of power in Three Dark Crowns, the first book in a new trilogy by Kendare Blake that's sure to captivate even the most seasoned of fantasy readers!

There Can Be Only One…

BOOK REPORT for Three Dark Crowns (Three Dark Crowns #1) by Kendare Blake

Cover Story: Montell Jordan
BFF Charm: ​​Yay x 2, Maybe x 1
Swoonworthy Scale: 7
Talky Talk: Westeros
Bonus Factors: Special Powers, Courtly Intrigue
Relationship Status: Swiping Right

Cover Story: Montell Jordan



The cover is simple but ominous, with a matte black background highlighting the different crowns for the three queens: Naturalist, Elemental, and Poisoner. Gorgeous and intriguing without going overboard, as so many fantasy covers do. 

The Deal:

Three dark queens, are born in a glen, sweet little triplets, will never be friends.

Three dark sisters, all fair to be seen, two to devour, and one to be Queen.

The island of Fennbirn is different from the Mainland. Here, magic thrives, humming through its inhabitants. Some are Naturalists, able to control and/or communicate with their animal familiars. Others are Elementals, gifted with the ability to manipulate earth, fire, wind, and water. Finally there are Poisoners, not only immune to all types of poisons but also consuming them with relish. For generations they have been the most feared and the most powerful, and they intend on staying that way.

The royal family bears a set of female triplets each generation, each a queen in her own right (either Naturalist, Elemental or Poisoner), but only one queen will survive past the age of sixteen to rule over all of Fennbirn. All she has to do is kill her sisters and survive their attempts at killing her. The sisters are separated at six years old and fostered by their corresponding factions. Once close and loving, they grow up knowing that they must kill or be killed.

Katharine is the Poisoner Queen, and she has been raised by the powerful Arron Family. Poisoner Queens have surivived their sisters to rule for many generations, but The Arrons find themselves struggling to gain public confidence in Katharine due to her inability to thrive despite being poisoned. Katharine is sickly and weak, alone and practically friendless except for her coral snake, Sweetheart. 

Mirabella is the Elemental Queen, backed by the sisters of the religious temple, and already the public's favorite. She is easily the most beautiful, but she also has a true heart and a real desire NOT to murder her sisters.

Arsinoe the Naturalist Queen has still not received her gift; no familiar has sought her out, and time is running out before The Quickening - the day upon which the clock starts to tick for one queen to emerge from three. The sisters have a year to ascend to the High Throne, and Arsinoe knows that she is in the weakest position. 

BFF Charm: Yay x 2, Maybe x 1

I would FOR SURE give BFF charms to Arsinoe and Mirabella. Both girls are loyal friends, having grown up with foster sisters that they are close to and rely upon. They would both put themselves in harm's way to protect the people that they love.

Katharine, on the other hand, grows up without peers. She's raised by The Arrons, but is not protected by the head of the family, Natalia Arron, from other members who treat her with abuse and open disdain. It's not her fault that she doesn't really know how to be a friend, but I'm not sure I want to be the one to teach her either. 

Swoonworthy Scale: 7

There's a not-your-typical-love-triangle in this story, as well as some VERY steamy scenes between Katharine and Pietyr, Natalia's nephew. As with all the best dark fantasy there is also betrayal, heartbreak, and revenge. While all of the Queens have a love interest, some are more the focal point of their lives than others, and I appreciated that the sisters were the stars of their own stories.

Talky Talk: Westeros

I wonder if there is actually a term for this in the literary world. Fantasy-ese? Fantas-ian? You all know what I mean. It's not so old school as to have "thee" and "thy", but definitely more formal with a dash of old-fashioned. The story is told in third-person, flipping between the points of view of the three sisters. Here we're privy to what the other characters are not; that Arsinoe and Katharine are in the weakest positions, and that Mirabella and Katharine are being manipulated by their factions in order to gain/retain power.

Bonus Factor: Super Powers

Sure, it's technically magic, but the powers of the sisters (and their superfriends!) gave me some real young X-Men vibes. They are still realizing what their powers mean, and how to exert them for the greater good...or not.

Bonus Factor: Courtly Intrigue

My dream for this series is that Mirabella and Katharine realize how badly they're being manipulated and decide that One Queen to Rule Them All is a terrible tradition if it means killing your sisters. This matriarchy is sour with corruption, and I'd love to see them all come out on the other side ALIVE. 

Casting Call:



Eden Sher as Queen Katharine

Selena Gomez as Queen Mirabella

Zelda Williams as Queen Arsinoe

Relationship Status: Swiping Right

Three Dark Crowns, you gave me originality in a genre that is overrun with tropes, one that is overflowing with titles that were Swiped Left. You're unflinchingly dark but still shine rays of hope in your darkest corners. You have a rich tapestry of supporting characters that I found myself just as invested in as the queens. And those final chapters had me clutching at my pearls like, HOW am I going to be able to wait an entire YEAR for your sequel?? 

FTC Full Disclosure: I received a free review copy from Harper Teen. I received neither mai tais nor money for this review (dammit!). Three Dark Crowns is available now.

Amanda Reid's photo About the Author: Amanda R. is an East Coast girl living in California who will never stop missing a true autumn. She's a bookseller who specializes in kid and teen lit, the leader of FYA Oakland, and bakes a damn fine pie.