Year Published: 2016 - by Macmillan Children's Books.
Genres: Young adult / high fantasy / romance /
Source: Thank you to Pan Macmillan SA for sending me this book in exchange for an honest review!
Three sisters. One crown. A fight to the death. In 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. Mirabella is a fierce elemental, able to spark hungry flames or vicious storms at the snap of her fingers. Katharine is a poisoner, one who can ingest the deadliest poisons without so much as a stomachache. Arsinoe, a naturalist, is said to have the ability to bloom the reddest rose and control the fiercest of lions. 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. The night the sisters turn sixteen, the battle begins. The last queen standing gets the crown.
I was so excited at the prospect of reading this book. Firstly, the cover is GORGEOUS. Definitely my favourite edition; I just adore the roses. And secondly, THAT PREMISE. I mean come on, who doesn't want to read about royal sisters fighting to the death over a crown?
It sounded amazing. But unfortunately I was disappointed.
It wasn't a bad book, and there were plenty of things I liked. The writing was simple but strong, and perhaps because of that it had a brilliant impact on my emotions. The atmosphere was deliciously chilling, and the foreboding was terrifying. The world-building was strong and atmospheric, and the whole idea was fantastically nasty. The story had a very Game of Thrones feel, and I shivered under its wickedness.
There were also some amazing, mouthwatering descriptions of food that made my stomach rumble. Blake also infused her tale with some gorgeous phrases that although infrequent, were poignant and tangible whenever they turned up.
My favourite part of the whole book was the last quarter. It was fast-paced, breathless, and exquisitely mind-blowing. The conclusion was superb, and my emotions were all over the place.
But unfortunately, up until that conclusion, the story was very slow. Very. I was bored until about the last quarter of the book, and most of the scenes leading up to that felt like fillers, packed with coincidence and wasted potential. A lot of the scenes felt weak and aimless and too, too slow.
Out of all the sisters, I think I liked Arsinoe the most. But I did love the contrast in personalities between each of the girls, and how each of them came across clear and defined. I knew exactly who each queen was, and their individual growth and character arcs were very good.
Jules was an equally strong character, but I personally didn't like her. Although, I did love her friendship with Arsinoe; it was satisfying to read about a strong female friendship.
But the cast was too huge. I lost track of most of the secondary characters, and their personalities were undefined and vague. I got sick and tired of all the people Blake was overloading on her story, and I just couldn't care about them.
I didn't like any of the romances or love-interests. Without giving spoilers, I'll just say that I liked Billy the most, hated Joseph, and wanted to roll my eyes at Pietyr. In addition, I thought that scene with Mirabella and Joseph in the forest was beyond silly. It was weak, unnecessary, random, and totally obscene.
Three Dark Crowns was missing something. The romances were weak, many of the scenes unnecessary, and the cast was too massive and their personalities too vague.
But the sisters were brilliant, the atmosphere terrific, and the finale mind-blowing.