Three Sisters. One Crown. Winner Takes ALL. We review Kendare Blake’s Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake for First Reads Friday.

From the book flap:

 Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake 

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.

Overall: I’m the youngest of three sisters and I couldn’t help reading Three Dark Crowns in that context. Image being torn from your family, raised by surrogates and then told that on your 16th birthday you would either kill or be killed by your sisters. Kendare Blake’s latest fantasy is the ultimate sibling rivalry tale.

We first meet Katharine, the poisoner. Katharine is a young queen on the eve of her 16th birthday, preparing to attending her first Poison Ball- a night full of beautiful dresses, dancing, music and a feast of poisoned food that she must eat in front of her guests to show her strength as a poisoner. This is not your average Sweet Sixteen! Has her training prepared her ingest course after course of poison and survive? If she can’t prove herself as poisoner she will never be able to defeat her sisters.

Next we meet Arsinoe, the naturalist.  She has command over nature…..or at least she should. While Arsinoe’s is a sweet tempered tom-boy with an ability to win over the people in her small village,  she lacks the ability to command nature, which is her given power. With her 16th birthday fast approaching, are her magic nowhere in sight, people are losing faith in her. If there was a yearbook, Arsinoe would be voted least “Most Likely To Be Killed By Her Sister”.

Finally we meet Mirabella, the elemental. Mirabell is the most beautiful of the three sisters and the most powerful. She is said to have the most mastery over all the elements. She is also said to be on the verge of madness. Mirabella is clearly the front runner in the race for the Crown, but what kind of Queen would she be?

Sibling rivalry, alliance, betrayal and romance all play a part in this deadly story of queen making.

Three Queens

One Crown

Winner Takes All

Judge a Book by its Cover: This cover is beautifully simple. A stark black background along with a representation of each crown. Arsinoe the naturalist’s crown is ringed by flowers. Mirabella can control the elements and her crown is ablaze with dancing flames. Katharine the poisoner’s crown is circled with deadly snakes. Three dangerous crowns, one gorgeous cover.

Three Dark Crowns

Audiobook Narration: I couldn’t find a sample of the audiobook, but I’m guessing that Three Dark Crowns calls for three amazing narrators.

Kick-Ass Factor: You don’t get murderous triplets fighting for a crown without some ass-kicking. And no one fights dirtier than sisters!

He Said, She Said: There’s no time for nice talk when your crown and your life are on the line.

“I want revenge,” she whispers, and her fingers trail bloody streaks down Natalia’s arms.
“And then I want my crown.”

“And what about your sister Arsinoe, the naturalist?” Pietyr asks casually. They both laugh. No one says anything about Arsinoe.”

“You are a poisoner queen,” says Giselle. “What else matters but that?”


Don’t Believe the Hype: Three Dark Crowns has been getting much deserved hype. The premise is original with three distinct characters to love or hate. The build-up is a bit slow at first but once the players are introduced, the action builds. This is the first in a series and we’re ready for book 2.

Open tab/Last call: We’re leaving this tab open so we can see what happens next. Pick your poison, ladies!

Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake. Hardcover 416. Published by HarperTeen. Expected Publication Date September 20, 2016. Pre-Order here.