THREE DARK CROWNS – Kendare Blake

“I will kill my sisters just as easily, Natalia,” Katherine says.  “I promise.  Though perhaps when I am finished, they will not look like they are sleeping.”

Kendare Blake’s Three Dark Crowns (HarperTeen 2016) has been on my radar for a few years, but it only recently made its way to my physical TBR.  I enjoy YA fantasy, and I tend to use them as comforting candy reads and palate cleansers.  (That’s not saying they’re all sweet and shallow by any means.)   Three Dark Crowns is one heck of an intense fantastical ride that is far from charming and teeters on the overly dramatic – but it sure is fun.

The island of Fennbirn is a magical place set apart from the mainland.  Ruled by the Goddess, there is a queen who will birth triplets.  At birth, the talents of the triplets are named by the queen before she leaves the island with her consort.  Only one of the triplets will become rule, and she will be crowned after killing the other two.  The triplets are separated as children, raised within their talents, and the killing starts following their 16th birthday.

Katherine is the poisoner queen, and poisoner queens have ruled for a hundred years.  The only problem is Katherine isn’t that great at it. She’s excellent at poisoning, but awful at being poisoned.  Despite years of training, she has not built up the strength or resistance expected.

Arsinoe is the naturalist queen.  Rough and ready like a feral beast, she runs with Jules and Jules’s familiar Camden.  Jules is one of the strongest naturalists in years, as evidenced by her big cat familiar.  Arsinoe’s familiar has yet to come to her.  Much like Katherine is an awful poisoner, she’s not great at being a naturalist.

Mirabella, backed by the Temple, is the elemental queen.  She is powerful, commanding storms with ease.  All expect her to defeat her sisters.  It’s why the Temple has backed her.  They want control, and Mirabella is by far the strongest in her gifts.

Can three sisters raised to kill each other learn to trust each other? Can the Temple be stopped?  Will Arsinoe’s and Katherine’s gifts awaken in time?  What exactly is the cost of low magic?  The first in the series leaves the reader with more questions than answers, but a thirst for the rest of the story.

It’s a hell of a fun fantasy soap opera.

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