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Three Dark Crowns Hardcover – Deckle Edge, September 20, 2016
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From the Publisher
Introducing the world of Three Dark Crowns!
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.
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.
From School Library Journal
Gr 8 Up—A poisoner—a teen who comes from a line of people who are supposed to ingest poison without being harmed—whose body betrays the gift that should have been innate suffers the ravage of toxins to defend her house's reign over Fennbirn Island. A naturalist who dims in the brilliance of her childhood friend turns to low magic to mold the earth and its creatures. An elemental whose beauty is made more terrible by her savage fires and storms is trapped within the palms of the Temple priestesses, ruthless in their scheme to overthrow the Black Council. Three sisters celebrate their 16th birthdays at the Beltane festival, but two are to be murdered during the Quickening, and one is to be crowned the red-handed Queen. This is a story entrenched in deceit, twisted by selfish desires for redemption and revenge in a crooked game set in generations of insidious matriarchal rule. Readers will be riveted by Blake's ingenious world-building, stunning developments of main and supporting characters, and spiraling tensions. VERDICT Highly recommended for fans of fantasy action thrillers with strong female leads, such as Victoria Aveyard's "Red Queen" and Sarah J. Maas's "Throne of Glass" series.—Zeying Wang, School Library Journal
★ “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))
★ “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))
“Readers will be riveted by Blake’s ingenious world-building, stunning developments of main and supporting characters, and spiraling tensions. Highly recommended for fans of fantasy action thrillers with strong female leads, such as Victoria Aveyard’s ‘Red Queen’ and Sarah J. Maas’s ‘Throne of Glass’ series.” (School Library Journal)
“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)
“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)
“Blake is a sure hand with complicated and intricate plots, and if that’s not enough to make readers stick around for the next installment, the cliffhanger ending certainly will.” (Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books)
“Blake establishes myriad side plots and relationships, builds complex characters, and leaves plenty of compelling avenues to explore in future books.” (Publishers Weekly)
Top customer reviews
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The book is the story of 3 sisters, triplets who were separated as children and raised by different magical/political factions. Eventually the sisters will continue the land's mythic tradition of attempting to kill each other using their mystic powers (one can resist poison, one can control the elements, and one can bond with and control animals) and the survivor will be crowned queen. The story moves from sister to sister with each chapter, describing the months leading up to the ceremony which marks the beginning of open war between them.
I think the world Blake is striving to create is a dark fairy tale place, a world with strange rules aren't rational but are consistent within the confines of the story. I think many readers will enjoy that element, swept up in the wild fantasy of it, but I was bothered by the fact that her world seems poorly thought out. Though it gives the impression of a fairy tale place, it lacks the clarity and simplicity of fairy tales. Blake tries to create a more complex and nuanced world, but she never steps back to give the reader a clear view of it, so we're left with something that feels cluttered and poorly thought out. Concepts and rules pop up randomly when Blake needs a new plot device to knock the characters around with.
Choosing to follow all three sisters is ambitious, but it gets confusing as each sister is surrounded by her own cast of supporting characters, most of whom remain flat and indistinct. About a third of the way through the book I stopped trying to remember who the supporting characters were because other than a few of them (Jules, Joseph, Billy, and Pietyr), they didn't seem to matter. They were just props to torment, comfort, or provide counsel to the sisters. It seems like there's a disconnect between Blake's ambitions for the story and the format she chose to write it in. She should have cut down the number of named and recurring characters significantly, or written a much longer and more detailed book.
Lastly, this book is dark. That may seem obvious based on the premise, but there's more to it than that. There's a lot of violence and sacrifice and tragedy that seems to serve no real purpose except to put the characters through crap. The book describes the months leading up to the "action" and yet characters are disfigured, mutilated, and crippled well before there's any reason for the violence to have begun. Death and injury can be very powerful events in a story, but here it felt meaningless... and cheap. Like Blake was saying, "Hey, I've told you twenty times how nice this character is. Now I'm going to hack off her hand. But it's not going to be important or meaningful except that it'll make you feel lousy."
Or maybe the real problem is that I'm just not quite the right audience for this book because I never quite fell into the world enough to be captivated by it.
I gave this book 4 out of 5 stars on Goodreads.
I agree with the other reviews- The last 1/4 of the book is the best part and what is probably going to make me buy the next installment (whenever that comes out). The characters start to get more dynamic at the end and way more interesting. Honestly, the first half of the book could have been condensed into three chapters (one for each queen).
Overall, I'd recommend this book, but only AFTER the 2nd installment comes out. Because the first book is such a teaser to what I'm hoping is a really interesting 2nd book.
Most recent customer reviews
At least in my reading, this is not a very diverse or inclusive book. As far as I can recall, there are no queer characters.Read more