Book Review: Two Dark Reigns by Kendare Blake

Book: Two Dark Reigns by Kendare Blake

Published September 2018 by HarperTeen|464 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the hardcover from the library

Series: Three Dark Crowns #3

Genre: YA Fantasy

#1 New York Times bestselling author Kendare Blake returns with the highly anticipated third book in the Three Dark Crowns series! And while Arsinoe, Mirabella, and Katharine all have their own scores to settle, they aren’t the only queens stirring things up on Fennbirn Island.

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.

Going into this book, I wasn’t sure about it at all.  And while I liked it, it was also my least favorite book in the series so far.

Like the first two books in the series, it took a while to get used to all of the narrators.  There were a few, and we followed Jules, Katherine, Arsinoe and Mirabella as we see what happens after Katherine is crowned Queen.  I don’t know why I always have a hard time with getting used to the narrators but it seems like I really struggled with that in this book.  Considering everything going on, it makes sense, but it still would have been nice to have it more clear when we’re switching perspectives.

I wasn’t sure about this book going into it because the 2nd book was pretty resolved.  It seems like this series was maybe originally intended to be a duology, but a few more books were added…and while I finished the 2nd book feeling like there was more to the story, it also felt like a really good ending to the series.  I was nervous this book wouldn’t have the same magic that the other books did.

It did, to a point, and I’m glad we learned more about Fennbirn and the mist…and even the Blue Queen.  I wanted to know more about that, and how it will come into play (assuming it does at all, and I admit that it could be wishful thinking on my part).

Katherine’s interesting, and she is trying to do the right thing, but I kind of wanted her to embrace what happened to her.  There were points where I felt like it focused too much on that- it would have been cool to see her embrace it, but I don’t think that’s in the cards for her.  Unless Blake decides to surprise us, but I don’t think that’s what will happen for her.

I didn’t particularly care for the visions of Daphne and the Blue Queen.  While it was interesting, I think maybe I wasn’t happy with how it was done.  At least we get more backstory on Fennbirn, though it would have been nice to get that for the Mainlands as well.  With the expansion we see of this world, I wanted more on everything, not the main setting we’ve had for the series.

Still, I’m curious to see how it will all end, and I’m definitely looking forward to reading the next book.

3 stars.  I like the world, but I wanted more world building for some parts of the world, and less for other parts.

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Book Review: One Dark Throne by Kendare Blake

Book: One Dark Throne by Kendare Blake

Published September 2017 by HarperTeen|448 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the hardcover from the library

Series: Three Dark Crowns #2

Genre: YA Fantasy

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, the elemental sister once thought to be the certain Queen Crowned, faces attacks like never before—ones that put those around her in danger she can’t seem to prevent.

Fennbirn’s deadliest queens must confront the one thing standing in their way of the crown: each other.

I really liked this one! It’s an interesting series, and I’ve really enjoyed it so far. It’s dark and twisted and it’s interesting to see how these girls are fighting for a throne. Especially when some aren’t doing what you thought they would.

I didn’t like this one at first. Even though I read the first book pretty recently, I had a hard time keeping up with the characters and places and what each queen could do. It took a while to get into it, and even the list of characters at the beginning of the book didn’t do much to help. It is more action-packed, and there’s a lot going on.

I do have a soft spot for Mirabella, even though I’m not sure why. And I really liked Arinsoe as well. To be as powerful a poisoner as she is, and with no training…she’s pretty powerful. Don’t get me wrong, Katherine’s pretty powerful as well. At this point, it would be disappointing if she wasn’t. But it also makes me wonder what her gift is. She had a lot of training as a poisoner, so she’s obviously a strong poisoner, but it always seemed like it wasn’t terribly strong. Especially when you compare her abilities to Arsinoe. So is there a stronger ability we don’t know about that will be revealed?

As much as I don’t want to like Katherine, for everything she’s done, I’m still curious to see where her story goes, and if there’s more to her than what we’ve seen with her so far.

There is something else I wanted to talk about! It wasn’t until after I had read this book, that I learned it was originally going to be a duology, before the series got extended for 4 books. There was a lot of closure in this book, more than what I would have expected, knowing it was a series, and not knowing it was originally going to be a duology. It makes me nervous and hesitant to read the rest of the series, because I am slightly nervous about how the rest of the series is going to go.

I’m still going to continue with the series, because I think there’s a lot of story to tell in this world, particularly with how things ended in this book. With Katherine, and what happened with Arsinoe and Mirabella, I really want to know what’s going to happen next. It’s definitely a dark, twisted world, and I do want to know how it’s all going to end. Even though I’m nervous to see where it’s going to go, it’s not going to stop me from continuing on with the series.

4 stars. I really liked it, and I liked seeing more of the relationships between the characters. You really see the politics behind everything too, and that made what was going on interesting. I can’t wait to see what happens next!

Book Review: Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake

Book: Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake

Published September 2016 by HarperTeen|398 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the hardcover from the library

Series: Three Dark Crowns #1

Genre: YA Fantasy

When kingdom come, there will be one.

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 feel like I’ve heard a lot about this series, so when I saw it at the library, I thought I’d check it out and see what it’s about.  Even though I didn’t love it, I still liked it!

It’s a really cool idea, and I like the idea of a set of triplets fighting for their crown.  It’s interesting that it’s every generation, and the impression I got was that they’re only born so people can see them fight for the crown, but I could be wrong.  I mean, I’ve only read the first book, so there could be a lot more about this world that we didn’t get in the book.

It seems like there are a lot of different kinds of magic, even though the book only focuses on a few.  I’d be curious to see what other kind of magic there is, and if we’ll see what there is beyond what the girls can do.

I’m not sure how I feel about three different narrators, though.  Usually, I read books with 2, and it’s pretty rare that I’ll pick up a book with more than that- An Ember In The Ashes series is the only other one I can think of, but that’s only because I read the third one pretty recently.

I mean, each girl was different, and each one had their own voice.  It was pretty easy to distinguish between the three but it also made it seem like there was too much going on.  It’s not that it was hard to keep track of what was going on, but it made things seem more complicated than they were.  Maybe the amount of narrators will narrow down as characters die, and that Blake won’t add in other perspectives.  I think maybe 3 narrators (each queen) didn’t work for me was because it seemed like a lot of other characters popped up.  I did have some trouble remembering who those characters were, and sometimes, it seemed like it was more about them than the three queens.

It was pretty slow for most of the book, but it does pick up towards the end.  It’s sad it did take so long for it to pick up, because I did like the end and I wanted more action.

I do have some unanswered questions- there are some odd rules in place.  Like, they can’t kill each other until they’re 16, which is strange.  I know 16-ish seems to be the age when people come into their powers and whatnot, and maybe it’s the age where these queens are considered old enough to fight for their crown and know what’s going on.

Also odd was the fact that they were raised separately.  I guess I don’t completely understand why they needed to be raised separately, since it was never explained.  It also seemed useless to me because they all seemed to have one ability, only for some to have a completely different ability.  Said character was seen as pretty useless as far as abilities go, and maybe she would have been seen differently had they figured out what her abilities really were.  Do they not test that, or do they try to shove an ability onto someone in the hopes it will stick?

Maybe I just wanted more with how the magic works, because I’m not remembering if it was really explained.  And I read this book recently enough that it should be on my mind.  I guess it’s pretty forgettable if it was mentioned at all.

Looking back (and after reading some other reviews of the book), I think what I thought would happen will probably be one of the other books in the series.  I wasn’t expecting so much set up to three girls fighting to the death for the crown.

It wasn’t as dark and twisty as I thought it would, at least for most of the book.  Maybe we’ll see that later on in the series?  All I know is I was expecting something more dark and evil than what we got for most of the book.

3 stars.  I liked Three Dark Crowns, but I have a lot of questions about why things are the way they are.