This book is a complex, character-driven, political dark YA fantasy. It was so different from what I expected, but in a very good way. I love complexity in fantasy. I also love YA fantasy, though a lot of them follow some of the same tropes that make them somewhat predictable. While I still love those tropes, this book sets itself apart. It was wholly unique and wonderful.

The book follows three sisters, born as triplets on a magical island. On this island, which is always ruled by a queen and her king-consort, every queen eventually gives birth to female triplets. These triplets have different magical gifts. They are mostly raised apart from each other, and once they reach 16, each has one year to use her gifts in order to kill the other two. The last queen standing rules until she gives birth to triplets, and so on and so forth.

From the description, you would think you would be reading a highly suspenseful, violent novel that’s like Buffy meets The Hunger Games. However, that’s not quite what you get. I have a feeling that is coming in the sequel, though (maybe?). As the first book in a series (duology, I think), this is a slow burn immersion into the world the queens live in, as well as the queens themselves. The gifts the queens have include manipulation of the elements, the ability to grow plants and communicate with animals, and the ability to consume and create poisons without harm. The chapters alternate between the viewpoints of the three queens, as they face their coming of age ceremonies and the start of their year to kill each other before ascending to the throne. Each faces different pressures and choices as she prepares. Each shifts and changes before your eyes. At the beginning, I used initial impressions to choose my favorite queen, and by the end, I didn’t who know who I wanted to win, or who I even liked, which, to me, shows masterful character development. The secondary characters were also fairly developed in their own right, and I had a variety of feelings about them as well. No one person’s personality is strictly one way or the other. All of the characters are human, with different sides and shifting emotions. The ending of the novel was also very surprising to me, which is always a bonus when reading.

Overall, this book was a very welcome surprise for me. I always expected to like it, and that wasn’t the unexpected part. What was a small surprise for me was how character driven it was, unlike most other YA fantasy I’ve read and enjoyed. In this book, the story is not overly suspenseful all the time, but the depth given to the world of the island and the characters themselves was extremely enjoyable. The novel’s politics add to the overall complexity, making it a very enjoyable read for me. It also felt like it’s building somewhere even bigger and better and I can’t wait for the next novel in the series. If you like dark fantasy with amazing characters and world building, then this book is definitely for you.

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

More Information: Amazon, Goodreads, Kendare Blake’s website, Kendare Blake on Twitter 

Have you read Three Dark Crowns? What did you think? If you haven’t, will you give it a shot? Let me know below!

11 thoughts on “Review: Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake

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