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One Dark Throne (Three Dark Crowns) Hardcover – Deckle Edge, September 19, 2017
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From School Library Journal
Gr 8 Up—Following up on the events of Three Dark Crowns, Blake brings the queen triplets to their fates as they fight for their lives. While the teen queens deal with suitors and advisors, they must also grapple with the reality of their tasks in killing one another for the ultimate throne. When Katharine seems to gather strength, Mirabella and Arisonoe must determine whether they can work together or if they even should. The author takes the cursed sisters to new exciting heights with a driving plot. A continued detailed development of characters carves out unexpected alliances with Blake's careful manipulation. Readers will appreciate the epic payoff of the first novel in this second installment. The present-tense style throughout underlines the drama of the plot. The large cast of characters may seem overwhelming at times, but each is characterized skillfully. Though Blake describes some violence, the gore is minimal, making this appropriate for a broad range of ages. VERDICT Dark indeed, and exploring themes of loyalty, this is a thrilling sequel with everything from action to romance to entice readers. A strong purchase for YA fantasy shelves.—Abby Hargreaves, D.C. Public Library
★ “Blake’s already pitch-dark tale shades even darker. Exquisitely restrained prose, deliberate pacing, paying off in a tumultuous climax that piles one shocking twist upon another. Achingly gorgeous and gruesomely fascinating.” (Kirkus Reviews (starred review))
“This sequel to Three Dark Crowns loses none of that book’s momentum, powering toward a conclusion that leaves several doors open. With wonderfully drawn characters and a lethal, unpredictable plot, this follow-up will leave readers breathless as the queens’ fates unfold.” (ALA Booklist)
“Blake skillfully guides readers through the complex chain of events while keeping her large cast of characters ignorant of each other’s tactics and motivations. Fans of Game of Thrones and dark fantasies will revel in this story of betrayal and survival.” (Voice of Youth Advocates (VOYA))
“New exciting heights with a driving plot. Dark indeed, and exploring themes of loyalty, this is a thrilling sequel with everything from action to romance to entice readers. A strong purchase for YA fantasy shelves.” (School Library Journal)
“Riveting. This book hits the ground running and keeps you guessing with each unpredictable twist.” (Brightly)
PRAISE FOR THREE DARK CROWNS: “Three Dark Crowns is a brutal and inventive fantasy that is as addictive as it is horrifying. I can’t begin to guess the fates of these three remarkable sister-queens, but I’m salivating like poisoners at a feast to find out what will happen next.” (Marissa Meyer, New York Times bestselling author of the Lunar Chronicles)
“Full of mystery, intrigue, and deadly girls I wouldn’t dare cross, Fennbirn is a darkly magical world I’m both drawn to and frightened by. In short, this is a book I could linger in for months, with three girls I am rooting for with all my heart.” (Megan Shepherd, New York Times bestselling author of The Cage series (on THREE DARK CROWNS))
“With exquisite world building and luminous detail, this is high fantasy at its best. The magic is fierce and the plot intensely twisted, but at this novel’s dark heart beats a story about sisterhood, the unbreakable bonds of family, and ties that bind enough to kill.” (Booklist (starred review))
“The opener to a pitch-black epic fantasy series. Blake has constructed an insular, matriarchal society from convincing intimate details, vivid, complicated characters, [and] sumptuous, poetic prose. Gorgeous and bloody, tender and violent, precise, and passionate; above all, completely addicting. ” (Kirkus Reviews (starred review) (on THREE DARK CROWNS))
“I loved this book. Blake’s THREE DARK CROWNS is hypnotic, twisting, and beautiful...as satisfying as a drop of poison in an enemy’s cup.” (April Genevieve Tucholke, author of Wink, Poppy, Midnight)
Top customer reviews
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The end of Three Dark Crowns left each of our Queens in a precarious state. Katherine had just been thrown down into the cavern of the Breccia Domain by her would be love Pietyr; we discovered Arsinoe is not really the naturalist she’s been raised to be, instead she is a poisoner (!); and Mirabella’s impressive show at the Quickening Ceremony is swiftly overshadowed by what many view as her cowardice when she ran from Arsinoe’s bear familiar.
Moving on, however, the Queens must now continue the traditions of the Ascension Year, which includes courting suitors and taking steps to ensure their victory over the other Queens (i.e. plotting each other’s deaths). It quickly becomes apparent that this Ascension is not like those in the past. Mirabella, Arsinoe, and Katherine are not quick to abide by traditions, but their will to survive may cause the bloodiest battle yet.
I applaud Ms. Blake with taking these three completely different sisters, giving them the grotesque job of having to kill each other to reign victorious, giving each of them their faults (some more sinister than others), and still making me care about what happens to each one. After her return from Breccia Domain, a bloodthirsty Katherine would be easy to paint the villain, but you can see something mysterious happened when she was thrown into that cavern and despite any bravado she’s developed, she still has moments of vulnerability.
However, the sister who really stands out for me is Arsinoe. Even after living her life thinking her gift had betrayed her and being told she would be one of the sisters to die, Arsinoe never gave up living. She probably has the most true and devoted family/friend base of the triplets and it has helped her to remain strong and positive. Considering how things progress in One Dark Throne, she certainly needs it as we begin to see where true loyalties lie this time around.
What keeps this read from being a full five stars comes back to the fact that this was originally supposed to be a duology, and now is expanding into a four book series. While this is great news, you can clearly see, especially from the middle onward, how the plot kind of winds down from the fast-paced start is has at the beginning. I felt like things get a bit repetitive in places as it’s being ensured to leave enough open to continue to books three and four.
Regardless of this, Kendare Blake makes an extremely readable story with three very compelling female leads (not to mention all those secondary characters as well). She’s not afraid to take risks with her characters while readers are once again left desperately hoping their favorites survive to the end, and the others get their comeuppance.
Blake masterfully utilizes the narrative style to create a sense of mystery and makes you want to turn the page eagerly. I personally struggled a bit with the pacing of book one, but this book maximizes on that flaw and fixes it. This book took off and hit the ground running. Blake allows us to learn more about each sister's history with one another and the history they have with their families. If the first book was about world-building, this book was dedicated to character building. Mirabella is powerful in skills but is probably the least ruthless of the three. She will do anything to protect her sister Arsinoe from Katherine, who the latter has decided to target first by thinking she's weak. Mirabella has a nice balance to her character because she seems meek but her power can be so destructive. It was a pleasure getting to know her friends Elizabeth and Bree, who added a fun dynamic to Mirabella's chapters.
While Mirabella's story seemed to be the most intriguing in book one to me, Katherine and Arsinoe captivated me ever so much in this installment. In book one Katherine struggled because she didn't initially have the power to withstand the poisons she was expected to ingest on a regular basis. That meek girl we knew who struggled to find her identity is gone. Replacing her is a ruthlessly cunning girl who is very much other-wordly. Katherine consumes poison every chance she gets and allows the betrayal and despair she's feeling to rule her reason. Katherine is transformed entirely in this installment, and it leaves readers wondering what truly happened when she fell into that pit. Blake teases us with hints throughout the book, but leaves much to be desired in order to captivate on the intrigue and mystery to Katherine's struggle. Blake doesn't let us forget to humanize Katherine despite her transformation, and we see this in her special moments with Pietyr. We see a girl who just wants to be loved and accepted, but often is forgotten about due to her new found bloodlust and yearning for vengeance.
Now I have always had a special place in my heart for Arsinoe and the naturalist's world. If you read the first book we know now that Arsinoe is a true poisoner. Arsinoe was a character who fought to find her place amongst the naturalist even though she had no aptitutude for it. Like Katherine, the naturalist camp and Arsinoe's closests friends protected that secret. It was amazing to see Arsinoe find her place in this book and see that she could be strong like her naturalist prodigal friend, Jules. I loved the romances that were built up in this installment, and Jules and Joseph were just as much a focal point as the three Queens. Jules in particular seemed to pay a prominent role and didn't seem so secondary. I predict her story being pushed even further in the next book.
One Dark Throne takes us down a path of darkness and turmoil, but often lightens the mood with budding romances. The magical world of Fennbirn has never felt more engrossing, and we see Blake flaunt her gift for mysterious flare expertly. Readers will be scrambling for the next book with Blake's delightful, yet infuriating talent to build her characters and plot with open-ended futures.