Review: Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake

Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake (UK edition)

Title: Three Dark Crowns (Three Dark Crowns 1)
Author: Kendare Blake
Genre: Fantasy, Sword & Sorcery, Young Adult
Publisher: Macmillan Children’s Books (22nd September 2016)


MIRABELLA, a fierce elemental, can spark hungry flames with the click of a finger.

KATHARINE, a poisoner, is known to be resistant to the deadliest of snake bites.

ARSINOE, a naturalist, is rumoured to have the ability to bloom the reddest of roses.

But becoming the Queen Crowned is not just a matter of royal birth. These three sisters must fight to the death for the throne, and on the night they turn sixteen the battle begins. Only one queen can inherit the crown.


Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️ (3 stars)

THREE DARK CROWNS is the first novel in Kendare Blake’s latest series. The book tells the story of a set of triplets born on the island of Fennbirn. These triplets are all considered queens, and all three of them have an equal claim to the crown. All three of them possess a coveted magic, though that is where their similarities end. Mirabella can control the elements; Katharine is a poisoner, known to be resistant to the most deadly or toxins; and Arsinoe is a naturalist who can make flowers bloom and call animals to her. Only one of them can claim the crown, and the winner must kill her sisters.

This book intrigued me as soon as I heard of it. I was interested to see how Blake would pull off narrating the story from the point of view of each sister – how she would balance the story between them. I was also curious about how it would work when we would get to know all three sisters – I mean, usually you just end up rooting for one, because that’s how the novel sets it up. THREE DARK CROWNS has the potential to force you to root for all three, and that is exactly what has happened to me.

THREE DARK CROWNS just covers the lead up to the battle royal between the sisters and their factions. Blake does a good job introducing Mirabella, Katharine, and Arsinoe and letting the reader get to know them and their families. The three sisters largely dominate the narration, but Blake occasionally focuses on other characters to paint a larger picture of what is going on. I found it easy yo keep track of who was who, and what was going on with everyone. The world of THREE DARK CROWNS is an interesting one, split into many factions. Blake does a great job building the tension as the book progresses, and the battle between the triplets draws closer.

Blake does a brilliant job with the characterisation, and it is easy to keep the three queens and their courts apart. It is also easy to empathise with each of the triplets. THREE DARK CROWNS does a great job in setting up the bloodshed that will occur in the next book. I can’t help but wonder if there is more going on below the surface than the queens and their courts (or even us, as the reader) is aware of. It almost seems too simple. And, to be honest, I don’t feel comfortable that there’s no obvious protagonist.

If you are a fan of Blake’s previous series then I think you will enjoy THREE DARK CROWNS. I also think those who enjoy a dark fantasy will also enjoy this series. The book may be aimed at a young adult audience (not that this is a bad thing), but it is delightfully creepy. Blake’s story is interesting and complicated, and it will keep you guessing. Having read the book I’m curious about what’s going to happen next, and which of the triplets will end up with the crown.


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