Book Review: Three Dark Crowns complete series by Kendare Blake

PopSugar 2019 Reading Challenge Prompt: A book with a plant in the title or on the cover ( book one ), A book written by an author fr...

PopSugar 2019 Reading Challenge Prompt: A book with a plant in the title or on the cover (book one), A book written by an author from Asia, Africa, and South America (book two)

TW: Abuse, violence, death of animals, abduction, murder

As part of the Booksparks YA Fall Reading Challenge (#YAfrc2019), I was provided with a complimentary copy of the newest and final Three Dark Crowns novel, Five Dark Fates. I'd wanted to read the series for a while, but had never gotten around to it. So it was the perfect opportunity to pick up the others in the series. September was basically just reading the Dark Crowns series.

The four-novel series focuses on three triplet queens, born to rule and on their sixteenth birthday, two must die so the other can rule. Each sister possesses a gift - Mirabella is an elemental, Arsinoe is the naturalist, and Katharine is a poisoner. For the past several generations, poisoners have ruled. But the rule is not just given. The sisters must fight for the crown. They must fight to the death.

The two novellas (both combined to make Queens of Fennbirn) within the series are prequels - The Young Queens focuses on the sisters as children, before they were taken to their adoptive families. The Oracle Queen tells the tale of Queen Elsabet, the oracle queen who killed three whole families based only on a vision.

First thing's first - the order of the novels. I was really confused about this because they aren't in the order of the numbers in titles, and there aren't five novels (four novels plus two novellas). So here's the order to read them in:

1. Three Dark Crowns
2. One Dark Throne
3. Queens of Fennbirn (The Young Queens, The Oracle Queen) - I read this between novels 4 and 5, but I would recommend it here. Novel four ends on a cliff hanger and you'll want to jump straight into the final novel. Do not read this prior to books one and two if you do not want major spoilers!
4. Two Dark Reigns
5. Five Dark Fates

For the most part, each of these novels starts off slow. These are truly slow-burn fantasy novels and will not jump straight into action and excitement. Character development is central to the plot. If I'm being totally honest, each of the novels is slow for at least half the book. It took me a good bit to actually get into book one (Three Dark Crowns), but once I was in it, I was freaking in it, okay? Then I was so hooked to the characters, I had to dive into the other books.

So there are three sisters, right? Three triplets. Three queens. And while you spend pretty equal time with each of this, I took a liking to one of them right away and stuck with her throughout. She was hands down my favorite, and while it may have been unintentional, she was the protagonist of the book. The other sisters are just as much protagonists, I'm sure, but I had a deep connection with this one in particular, and I'm curious if everyone else felt the same?

Here's what I loved so much about this entire series - it's woman-driven. Even though women are killing each other, and the Queen's rule ends once she has triplets that she never gets to raise, it is Queens who rule - not men. Even the warriors are mostly women. Male characters play more minor roles, and there are few male "sidekicks," but these stories focus on girls and I loved it.

There were some parts that were confusing at times, and I felt the language was a bit inconsistent. I wasn't sure for the longest time what the time period/setting was. I thought it was current-day, then ultimately ended up believing it was more medieval. And at times, the language would reflect an older time period, while at other times it seemed modernized. It was a weird combination of both that I wish had felt more consistent - but that was my biggest complaint.

"Three dark queens are born in a glen, sweet little triplets will never be friends. Three dark sisters all fair to be seen, two to devour and one to be Queen." - Three Dark Crowns, Kendare Blake

These books are so cool - they're basically a female-driven Game of Thrones for a much younger crowd. There is death and war. There are familiars and magic. Three sisters fight to become the Queen of the island - it's a queendom, not a kingdom. It was also very fun and shocking and intriguing. I would definitely recommend.

Goodreads rating: ★★★★☆

*I received Five Dark Fates free in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are entirely my own.

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