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Three Dark Crowns | Thoughts

3 Stars.

“No one really wishes to be a queen.” 

This quote pretty much sums up the overall atmosphere of this book. We are given three sisters, separated at a young age and raised to hate one another. Arsinoe is the naturalist who has no familiar, Katherine the poisoner who can't survive the slightest concoctions, Mirabella the elemental who can call up storms with a thought. When they turn sixteen, they're to put on a display of each of their gifts before their subjects, then begin a year long battle to kill each other. Last one standing becomes queen.

Except, not one of them convinced me she really did want to become queen. I know, that's arguably supposed to be part of their redeeming qualities - that they don't want to kill their own sisters - but it came across to me as a lack of conviction for anything in their lives rather than just the sororicide. Supporting characters cared more than they did about their survival most of the time.

There are qualities to each of the sisters that I like - Arsinoe is taking her situation somewhat seriously by exploring ways to survive not just her sisters, but also the faction of the island that looks to her in disappointment as she displays no magical signs. She also takes no shit, from anyone, and tells it like it is.

Katherine knows it's her mind that will win her the crown, and she works tirelessly at her studies of poisoncraft. But her head is turned the instant a scheming boy is introduced, and she cowers too easily before unimportant adversaries in her life.

Mirabella is by far my least favorite, as she is the ONLY one exhibiting powers and yet she lets a bunch of crazy fanatics dictate her and her friends' lives. *SPOILER!* A friend's hand gets cut off, seriously, and the priestesses get NO furious punishment from our most powerful elemental? I know such displays can be cheap thrills, but by that point in the book I wanted - needed - something, ANYTHING to set her off. *SAFE!*

Of the three, Katherine is my favorite. She is smart and cunning, an underappreciated weapon that is plenty sharp. By the end of the book, she's got the blood-thirst to drive her forward, and I feel like we'll finally get somewhere in the sequel. But really...the secondhand characters are the ones I seemed to care most about. I wanted to know more about Jules and her fierce familiar, or Pietyr and his political ambitions.

Ultimately, I wanted more of what this book promised to give...a dark setting with lots of intrigue and political scheming, and less of the rushed, underdeveloped characters and plot. It felt all over the place...runaway HERE! Romance scene THERE! Surprise encounter WHOA! Then back to stalled story lines. It may seem I gave Three Dark Crowns too high a rating for the issues I take, but the three stars is due ALL to the last quarter. The plot finally picks up, twists occur that I did NOT see coming (but when I think on it, yes, all the signs were there...) and ultimately this felt like a prequel setting up for the real story to come.

So, I hope that's true, and the sequel delivers all that I had originally hoped for in the first installment, along with taking some time to explain much of the dashed-together setting.

Three Dark Crowns Review
Virginia DeFeo