Review: Two Dark Reigns (Three Dark Crowns) by Kendare Blake

Title: Two Dark Reigns
Author: Kendare Blake
Publisher/Year:  HarperCollins 9/4/18
Length:   329 Pages
Series:  Three Dark Crowns #3

Overview

Queen Katharine has waited her entire life to wear the crown. But now that she finally has it, the murmurs of dissent grow louder by the day. There’s also the alarming issue of whether or not her sisters are actually dead—or if they’re waiting in the wings to usurp the throne.

Mirabella and Arsinoe are alive, but in hiding on the mainland and dealing with a nightmare of their own: being visited repeatedly by a specter they think might be the fabled Blue Queen. Though she says nothing, her rotting, bony finger pointing out to sea is clear enough: return to Fennbirn.

Jules, too, is in a strange place—in disguise. And her only confidants, a war-gifted girl named Emilia and her oracle friend Mathilde, are urging her to take on a role she can’t imagine filling: a legion-cursed queen who will lead a rebel army to Katharine’s doorstep.

This is an uprising that the mysterious Blue Queen may have more to do with than anyone could have guessed—or expected.

My Thoughts

This story has truly taken us on a crazy journey and it’s one that’s not even close to being complete or clear.  We all knew that there was no good that could come out of Katherine being Queen, but the other sisters knew that they couldn’t not stay and they were not about to let themselves be killed for a history that they don’t believe anymore.

The third installment of the series brings us to a point in time where everything that everyone believed to be necessary wasn’t the case, that there are parts to their history that have been misrepresented, and as a result, the future for the queens is all a mess.

Katherine unfortunately has the position of being Queen at a time where she’s known to be the Undead Queen, and one who has little control over the people.  She tried replacing some folks on the Black Council in the hopes of looking stronger, making the right alliances and getting people to respect her.  Sadly for her, the dead queens inside her have a different plan, and we see how that really starts to play out throughout this story.

Then there are the other sisters, Mira and Arsinoe.  They fled with Billy to the mainland and somehow made it through the mist.  They’re trying to live life as they want, but i think that we can all agree that it would be far too easy.  Mira adapts a bit better since she’s always been one to play by the rules, but even she begins to see the shine come off of life there.  She’s not able to use her powers and that’s something that is hard for her since changing the weather was always something that calmed her.

Arsinoe on the other hand is a woman who will never conform and that just piles on the problems.  She wants to be with Billy and he with her, yet his family is not having it.  Arsinoe won’t wear dresses and she’s not of the right lineage so they continue to be pulled apart.  she feels like she has no purpose until she starts to be visited by a queen in her dreams.  What the message is though – no one truly knows.

What we do know is that it takes us back to the island, where we don’t just find Katherine trying to maintain the crown, but we find Jules, who is now dubbed the Legion Queen becoming the leader of the Rebellion.  There are pockets of people on the island who are with the rebellion and believe that Jules is the rightful leader.  The question from me of course is why is Jules so powerful?  is she perhaps a Blue Queen herself or is she perhaps of a unique parentage?

I had assumed that this story was a trilogy and when we were about 75% through, i wondered how our author Kendare Blake would wrap it all up.  Only to learn that nope – there’s more.  Anything that you thought was going to happen, did and perhaps did not, and we are left on a cliff.

Peityr wants to get the dead queens out of Katherine, but will that happen and if it does, what of Katherine will remain?  he takes the information from Madrigal, Jules’ mother to understand what Low Magic to use to get them out, but i think that there’s catastrophe looming.

Mira and Arsinoe seemed so close throughout this installment, but i’m forced to wonder if that’s sustainable now that they seem to have such different motivations.  Arsinoe is also hiding some key information that she’s learned from her visions and dreams and knowing that there is no good outcome from what she knows, i think we’re gearing up for something horrible

Jules seems to have lost her mind and it’s unclear if anyone will be able to help her gain control.  without a figurehead, will the Rebellion survive and overthrow?

so many questions and so few answers.  i can’t wait to see where the next book takes us since there will certainly be few happy endings and a lot more death and despair.  Enjoy!

Review: The Young Queens (Three Dark Crowns #0.2) by Kedare Blake

Title: The Young Queens
Author: Kendare Blake
Publisher/Year:  Harper Collins 12/26/17
Length:   89 Pages
Series:  Three Dark Crowns #0.2

Overview

In this must-read prequel to Kendare Blake’s New York Times bestselling Three Dark Crowns, the queens’ origin story is revealed. It’s a pre-crown lowdown of Fennbirn’s ruling class.

Mirabella, Arsinoe, and Katharine weren’t always scheming to murder each other. They weren’t always surrounded by rival foster families, each swearing to have their best interests at heart. And they weren’t always afraid of being unexpectedly attacked—by one of their own sisters, no less—in a way that could cost them their last breath.

They used to be together. Just three sisters. Alone in a glen.

This is the story of the three queens—after they were born, before they were separated, during the time when they all lived together, loved each other, and protected each other. It’s also the story of the day they were torn apart, and the several years that follow.

From birth to eleven years old, this is a rare glimpse of the queens’ lives…before they were at stake.

My Thoughts

In this series we were first intoduced to the queens just as they were coming of age, each trying to live up to the legacy that is bestowed upon the triplet queens, so that one – the one that was the strongest could take power from the rest.  We knew that there were 2 that were not quite able, and yet we never really saw how they grew up and came to be.

In this prequel of sorts, we get to see how they were as young girls, before they were separated and taken to their own host cities to learn their skills (or not) and truly learn to hate (and forget) one another.

The way that this novella is written, we get glimpses into the lives of these girls when they were still at the cottage up until they turned 6.  we saw who was the protector, and who was the caring one.  We saw how hard it was for them to get taken from one another, and yet no one really cared since it’s what’s done.

From there, we get to see how their lives truly progressed over the years in each of their new homes, and it’s really interesting to see some of the side stories as they happened too.  We got to see how Mirabella was feared because of her power, and as a result, she was locked up for a bit.

Then there’s katherine, the poisoner who’s not quite a poisoner, and how she takes all the torture that she’s gone through because that’s what’s expected of her.  makes you less surprised when you see what’s become of her in the main series.  And don’t forget Arsinoe.  the naturalist who isn’t quite there yet, and we see how she tries to scape and the punishment that gets all of some of the more important supporting characters banished.

All in all, it sets up the backstory for the series in a way that really does help us understand the foundation for how things came to pass, and really makes us a bit less surprised about what has just transpired in the coming installments and what the future holds since there’s still so much left that’s unsettled.  i can’t wait for what’s next since there are bigger and better story lines coming since there are secrets that are coming to life.  on that note – enjoy!

Review: One Dark Throne (Three Dark Crowns #2) by Kendare Blake

Title: One Dark Throne
Author: Kendare Blake
Publisher/Year:  HarperCollings 9/19/17
Length:   464 Pages
Series:  Three Dark Crowns #2

Overview

The battle for the crown has begun, but which of the three sisters will prevail?

With the unforgettable events of the Quickening behind them and the Ascension Year underway, all bets are off. Katharine, once the weak and feeble sister, is stronger than ever before. Arsinoe, after discovering the truth about her powers, must figure out how to make her secret talent work in her favor without anyone finding out. And Mirabella, once thought to be the strongest sister of all and the certain Queen Crowned, faces attacks like never before—ones that put those around her in danger she can’t seem to prevent.

In this enthralling sequel to Kendare Blake’s New York Times bestselling Three Dark Crowns, Fennbirn’s deadliest queens must face the one thing standing in their way of the crown: each other.

My Thoughts

This is an interesting series – there are so many ways that the story could go and i think that the path that this one has taken is one that’s dynamic and exciting.  Where we left off in book 1 we knew that there were battles to be fought, resulting in the death of 2 of the queens.  Only one could survive.  Well, this second installment gives us the journey that they go on now that they are actively pursuing the end goal.  At the direction of those around them.

Katherine, Arsinoe and Mirabella are all such different girls – which is expected yet unexpected knowing that they are triplets.  We start to learn more about what goes on in their lives and the alliances that they are making with the suitors and others who are around them, all in the hopes of gaining affection if they are to survive.  There’s so much cunning and back stabbing (figuratively and literally) in this book between them that it’s a wonder that any are left standing at all.

The nice thing that our author does is that she makes the secondary characters incredibly important to the story.  Each sister has a band of friends and family surrounding her that really make the story progress – showing us how each girl goes from innocent to someone who knows who they are internally and wants to make sure the world knows it as well.

There’s also the fact that we learn that some of the gifts that we thought were the ones assigned at birth really aren’t the true ones – and i feel like that makes it that much more compelling.  Mira is the same, but seeing how weak or missing both Katherine and Arsinoe’s gifts were, it’s no surprise that there’s a bit more to the story – yet we don’t truly find out the full back story or what gifts should have manifested in both.

Katherine is a mystery now to this day – she was thrown into the Breccia and she comes back as the undead queen – and yet we’re still not sure what that means.  Arsinoe resorts to low magic to make anything happen around her and that has it’s consequences.

We are left at the end of this story with deaths, a divide among those who remain alive, and a divide from the island hopefully back to the mainland.  There’s really no sense what this all means for the future – and i think that’s the allure.  We’re left on such a cliff here that i can’t even speculate what’s going to happen.  We know that happy endings are impossible in this world and i think that we’re just hoping for something that makes the island less of a war zone.  So on that note, i see there’s a prequel coming out and then the third installment at some point so i’ll have to be patient.  Enjoy!

Review: Three Dark Crowns (Three Dark Crowns #1) by Kendare Blake

Title: Three Dark Crowns
Author: Kendare Blake
Publisher/Year:  HarperCollings 9/20/16
Length:   307 Pages
Series:  Three Dark Crowns #1

Overview

Fans of acclaimed author Kendare Blake’s Anna Dressed in Blood will devour Three Dark Crowns, a dark and inventive fantasy about three sisters who must fight to the death to become queen. And don’t miss the highly anticipated sequel, One Dark Throne!

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.

My Thoughts

I needed something new to read and this was a series that i’ve seen pop up in my feed a bunch but i’ve never gotten around to it.  glad that i did.  what we have here is the introduction to an interesting story about a world where those who live on an island have powers or ‘gifts’ and those who are on the mainland do not.  each generation of Queens born is a generation of triplets, each of whom is supposed to have a gift, and only the strongest will survive to become the reigning queen of their generation.  She must kill her sisters.

So this is the story that we go through on a journey with the triplets, Arsinoe, Katherine and Mirabella.  It’s an interesting world that they live in.  the girls are separated from one another when they are very young, taken to the town where their gift reigns so that they can grown and hone their powers.  The way that this story is written is in alternating chapters between the sisters so that we can both get to know them a bit more and see what struggles they are going through since it’s clear that they are much more similar than they knew.

Katherine is supposed to have the gift of poisoning, and what that means, i’m not entirely sure.  She’s quite skilled at creating and crafting poisons, but she’s supposed to be able to withstand all forms of poison and that doesn’t seem to be the case with her.  she’s training her body to cope with it but everyone around her wonders if she’s truly giftless.

Arsinoe is supposed to have the gift of being a naturalist- which means that she’s connected to all living things, plants and animals.  The thing here is that she’s supposed to have a familiar – an animal that is linked to her soul and she doesn’t – she’s not even able to make a simple bud bloom to life.  So there’s yet another question on whether she’s truly gotten a gift or not.

Then there’s Mirabella – the one that throws a wrench in everything.  She’s the most beautiful and enchanting by far, and she demonstrated her skills at being an elemental from day one – she’s one of the most powerful that they’ve seen and this makes everyone nervous and afraid since the triplets know that she will be the one to reign.

If that were the core to the story – then there’s so much more that’s going to come out.  What we see throughout is how others play a role in their lives.  There are priestesses who have their own agendas, families who want power, and girls who just want friends and romance.  While we think the story line is simple, really just a fight to prove gifts and stay alive, what we see in the last third is a total change in what the point and direction of the story will be.  I think that it’s no surprise to see what happens, but i also think that we’re setting up for a really great book 2 since the world as we knew it has turned upside down.  I can’t wait to see what comes next and i’m going to track down that next book ASAP.  Enjoy!