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Three Dark Crowns

5 stars
29,147 (27%)
4 stars
40,698 (38%)
3 stars
25,546 (24%)
2 stars
7,827 (7%)
1 star
2,863 (2%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 15,080 reviews
Profile Image for Emily May.
1,993 reviews298k followers
September 21, 2016
Three Dark Crowns has an interesting premise, but it manages to be insufferably boring for the first 75%. I foresee many DNFs on the horizon for this book.

It's about three sisters, three queens, essentially competing for the throne. They - Katharine, Arsinoe and Mirabella - each live in different parts of the land, each have a different power, and each have a different group of supporters aiding them. This is an "in every generation, there are three chosen ones..." kind of thing. However, throughout the generations, only one sister can claim the throne, and she must do so by murdering the other two.

In this case, Katharine is a poisoner who wields deadly cocktails; Arsinoe is a naturalist - at one with nature and animals - and not very good at it (nobody expects her to win the throne); Mirabella is an elemental and clearly the strongest of the three, her powers by far the most developed.

It sounds quite exciting, but it is far too slow and quiet a telling for such a nasty premise. The first three quarters are just boring. They needed a shot of excitement. Most of the book consists of the girls honing their skills in their own private locations and having flirtations with their love interests. It is painfully hard to not yawn, put the book down, and go find something more riveting to do. Like watching paint dry, for example.

I am not exaggerating. So little happens - there is no action, no drama, no excitement until near the end. And, by that point, how much do we really care? I don't know about you, but if I've spent most of a book being bored out of my mind, I'm not going to suddenly become invested when the pacing picks up.

The book flits between third-person perspectives and, truly, none of them are interesting. Arsinoe mostly wanders around being useless and watching the romance between Jules and Joseph. Mirabella repeatedly plays with the elements, conjuring earthquakes and towers of fire. Katharine is perhaps most interesting, but mainly because she's dealing with scars and blisters from the latest poison she's ingested. That should tell you something about the bar for excitement in this book - the highlights are when one of the characters is sick from poisoning. Problem is, the three queens don't really get their hands dirty for the most part. Their stories are not bloody and political, they are quiet and sometimes romantic.

Yes, the pacing picks up towards the end. No, it wasn't enough for me. It might work better for extremely patient readers who can stomach a mostly non-existent plot. There are rare occasions where characters and writing can make up for very little happening, but for me, this is not one of them.

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Profile Image for Natalie Monroe.
596 reviews3,590 followers
September 18, 2017
2.5 stars

"Three dark sisters
All fair to be seen,
Two to devour
And one to be queen"

Three Dark Crowns offends me. It promised me scheming sisters and political intrigue and power plays. Instead I get this:

And this:

And a whole lot of this:

80% of the book is the sisters (Katharine, Mirabella, and Arinsoe) waffling around, training, and getting acquainted with their love interests. What's each island's culture? How did the tradition of Triplets Hunger Games begin? No fucking idea, but look, dreamy eyes!

The romance itself isn't good either. Each sister has her own POV and love interest, but because of the multiple-POVs, none of them are fleshed out. Other than the sisters, side characters like Jules and Natalia have point-of-view chapters, too. It's a curious mixture of too much going on yet nothing happens. While I'm glad each sister queen has the chance to tell her side of the story, the feeling is dampened when it becomes a detriment rather than an advantage.

Perhaps it's the way Three Dark Crowns is written, but I couldn't relate to any of the sisters. It's third-person narrative at its worst, flat and emotionless. Plus, the sisters are individually insufferable. Katharine is a cowering sack of flour. Mirabella is a starry-eyed idealist with poor planning skills. Arinsoe reads like she's twelve and stamps her foot, pretending to be a strong female, but makes mistake after mistake.

Some of their plotlines make no sense. Take Katharine's for instance. She receives seduction lessons from Pietyr, nephew of her mentor Natalia, to ensure her sisters do not get suitors. What's the point? So Mirabella and Arinsoe don't get suitors at the Quickening, a festival after which they can begin killing each other. They're humiliated and will probably act more ruthlessly against Katharine during in the coming year. Getting a king-consort isn't essential to winning the crown. It's just a way to set up her romance. I would rather see her sabotaging her sisters to make up for her weak gift, or work through the Black Council to push through a law that determines only a poisoner can be crowned.

There's a brilliant opportunity for female friendship, which is absolutely squandered. Jules, through which we first see Arinsoe, could have been a real breakout character. Yet she seems more interested in her boyfriend Joseph than her BFF's impending death. One of the reasons Three Dark Crowns' premise appealed to me is that it could morph into a beautiful story of girl power and sisterhood. Sadly, Jules's storyline is reflective of the actual product.

On whole, Three Dark Crowns feels like a prequel. The last 20% is amazing and should have been put in the front after a few lead-in chapters, the romances woven along the excitement and danger of the Ascension Year. As it currently stands, we have to wait until the next book to see the queens fight it out.

"They'll all pay for this," she said against his shoulder. "They will bleed and scream and get what they're owed."

More of this, please? Don't let me down again.

My review of One Dark Throne
Profile Image for Riley.
429 reviews21.7k followers
June 5, 2017
Do you like fantasy?
Do you like badass morally-grey women?
Do you want to burn the patriarchy?
If so, this is the book for you.
Profile Image for Emma Giordano.
316 reviews115k followers
December 21, 2018
3.5 stars! I struggled with this start to a new series, but I’m currently reading the sequel and am SERIOUSLY enjoying it, so it was worthwhile for me to push through the first novel!

I will always admit when I feel choosing the audio version of a book may have impacted my reading experience. I restarted the first few hours of Three Dark Crowns about four times because I just could not keep track of the story. And that was my biggest issue with this story – I just could not get engaged. There’s a HUGE cast, a wide variety of perspectives, and many different locations and I struggled to keep everything at the forefront of the story while listening, but that’s not automatically a bad thing. I feel it is more a personal thing/my reading experience which caused me to have an extremely difficult time staying present in the story and remembering all the details and it’s possible the audio version had an impact on that.

I am also afraid my expectations may have influenced my reading experience as well. I believed Three Dark Crowns was going to be an epic battle between sisters for the crown, but I’ve found that’s more the focus of the sequel, One Dark Throne. Three Dark Crowns is VERY character based and the majority of the novel is more focused on getting to know the characters, understanding the magic system and monarchy, and “setting up” the events to take place in the ascension year. I think had I known this beforehand, I would have enjoyed it more so I could appreciate the detail put into character development and political ties without waiting for a greater amount of action scenes, because those are all things I really enjoy in fantasy novels! If you like a more character-driven fantasy story with political intrigue, I feel Three Dark Crowns would be of interest to you. If you’re looking for the story of sisters competing to the death, I believe you’ll need to keep reading for book two.

I feel the world and characters were really well-developed. There’s so much care put into developing the history of the Island, the workings of the monarchy’s rituals/traditions, and tensions between different sects of the island and the queens that represent them. The magic system really impressed me. It is much grander and more expansive than I initially anticipated, and I cannot wait to see it develop in future books. The side characters did not grasp me all that much but Katherine, Mirabella, Arsinoe and Jules were all very unique and I enjoyed reading from their perspective. I adored each of their individual character arcs and how they develop through the story. Despite my troubles staying engaged with the story, there is so much to love about it.

I also want to add that although I felt the beginning was very slow paced and there weren’t that many significant, intense scenes occurring, the story really picked up by the end. The climax of the story/final cliffhanger really grasped me and I’m so happy I continue with this novel to the end. By the conclusion of the novel, I ended up totally falling in love with this series and consider it a worthwhile read as a whole.

Overall, Three Dark Crowns wasn’t my favorite reading experience in the history of literature, but I really enjoyed the story and am already continuing on with the series. One Dark Throne has already stepped up the game and I am so much more enthralled with the story. I really can’t wait to continue with this series!
Profile Image for ❄️BooksofRadiance❄️.
614 reviews764 followers
January 4, 2018

Wow. Wow. Let me start off by saying that this is going to be messy and probably inarticulate. But just go with it. Had to let it out.

Alright. How does one express rage in just a few words? Because in the last quarter of this book (fine, all) - I had to constantly take breaks to calm and compose myself because I was too LIVID and could feel my blood boiling and chest pain arising. Then why, you may ask did I continue?
Because 1) I hate DNFing books. 2) I honestly kept hoping that things would change by the end and that maybe, just maybe, my perspective would also change along with it. Neither did.
The book had an interesting premise that was executed so, so poorly. Horribly.

First and foremost, can we talk about how mind-numbingly BORING it was?? How could a book fail to pick up three quarters in!?
Ahhh, and the gift that kept on giving. The horrible, atrocious and petulant cast of characters who ruined everything. EVERYTHING. 🤦‍♀️💆

1 - I fucking HATED HATED Joseph with a livid passion (why is it that we NEVER see accountability in YA Fantasy??) He was an irredeemable shithead through and through.

2 - I grew to HATEEE Mirabella or whatever her name is. Her actions were absolutely disgusting. And the fact that she didn’t care was like throwing gasoline on a fire.

3 - But what Really took the cake was the manner in which some (most, let’s face it) of the women were depicted. THIS. This is what got to me.
Why were they painted in such a horrible and weak light! They were contemptible, lacking in every sense of the word and downright loathsome! They were weak-willed and spineless who couldn’t think for themselves.

- One couldn’t hold her ground when she should have (apologising and putting the blame on herself when she was the one wronged) what kind of example is that to young readers? Yes, a boy can treat you like shit but DO MAKE SURE that you’re the one who apologises.☝️

- One was just a doormat. Who’d say ‘how high’ if/when told to jump. Yes. Since you’re a girl and (obviously) brainless, and he’s “hot” who treats you like his doll (really. He does) DO MAKE SURE that you submit to him and his every need. No questions asked. ☝️

- One (oh this one 🤦‍♀️) - Fucking shameful. It is one thing to do something unknowingly. But repeating it with no thought to how it’d impact others even after being aware!? Because you’re that dumb? Oh, the list goes on with this bitch.

- And of course. The men. Oh, how I HATED THEM. They were either misogynistic, dominating and arrogant shitheads or mind-numbingly boring.
And I know I’ve said it above but this bears repeating. I have never felt such hate of this magnitude for a male character like I have for Joseph. I LOATHED HIM WITH EVERYTHING IN ME. He was a worthless punchable trash. Simple as that.

I fail to see what the point of this book was. What is the lesson here? Other than reading about horny brainless teenagers cheating left and right and dumb-as-hell girls being controlled by men because they weren’t given (by the author) the mental capacity to stand up for themselves. I mean, what does the reader get out of this horrid experience?

A lot of the events that took place completely ruined the reading experience for me. And no, I don’t understand how these events could’ve been used as a way to drive this shit of a plot when all it did was make the cast seem like utter trash.

It’s heartbreaking because I remember my excitement when I bought the book. I mean, I blew off a great book to read the atrocity that is this... ehmm book.

These are horrible, terrible characters. Bad. Just bad! Yikes.
Profile Image for Melanie.
1,176 reviews98.9k followers
August 7, 2020
“No one really wishes to be a queen.”

Oh my, I loved this. This book seems to be very polarizing on my feed, and from people I love, trust, and have similar reading tastes as, so I was a little apprehensive going in. I read that first chapter with my mouth open the entire time. Instantly drawn in, immersed, and in love.

Most of you probably know the synopsis of this book, but it will still bring me immense joy to tell those few who might not know. Basically, this story is set in a world with an amazing matriarchy, where a queen will always give birth to multiple girls. For the most part, it will be triplets, each with different powers, who will be sent away to live among people who have also developed their powers. Yet, once these sisters turn sixteen, a battle will begin which only ends when only one of the girls are alive and the other two sisters dead. This lone triplet will be the new queen of Fennbirn.

This world is gloriously feminist, and I loved each point of view from the different islands. And the writing? Beautiful, lyrical, genius. And I fell so very in love with each sister, easily, and happily. These characters are honestly a tier above almost every YA character I’ve ever read. And again, this was such an amazing journey and I hope more people give this book a shot, despite the mixed reviews.

And the twists and turns? I was at the edge of my seat reading this! And I was going to say one of the only downsides while reading was because a friend sort of intentionally spoiled a twist for me, but then I was completely blindsided by another immediately after. The only reason I chose to give this four stars, instead of five, was because the actual plot itself was a little slow for my liking. This is a very character driven story, and I loved that so much, but some major plot points just felt like they took too long to get going. Even though, once they did? Lord, help me. Perfection.

“In her mind, every last Queen lies at the bottom of the sea, drowned by the Goddess the moment she was done with them.”

So, something I also really want to talk about is how this (in my mind and my opinion) is an own voices book. I watch a lot of Booktube, I read a lot of blogs, I spend too much time on book twitter, but I have never heard that Kendare Blake is Korean, ever. I noticed how the triplets’ descriptions were somewhat vague besides the dark black hair, so I went and did some searching, and I was absolutely shocked to find out that this book is written by a woman of color. I immediately went to snapchat, and all of my friends, too, did not know this. So, I just wanted to make this a point in my review, because me and so many of my friends want to support marginalized voices, and if I would have known this sooner, I wouldn’t have waited to pick this book up. On top of the fact that I loved it, and it was amazing, it warms my damn heart to picture three kickass Asian girls, trying to overcome to pressures that this world has put on them, while trying to decide their own destinies. Seriously, this meant so much to me.

Breathing fanart by TheSenesX

Okay, I’m going to do a quick breakdown of the three sisters! I found these amazing pictures from Epic Reads on my wonderful friend May’s review and I couldn’t resist adding them to mine, because they are so dang adorable and perfect!

Katharine 💚☠ - Gravesdrake Manor - Poisoner Queen
The poisoner queen always wins, so Katharine has a tremendous amount of pressure on her. But her body is weak and frail, from being forced to ingest so many poisons, and from the abuse she receives for not achieving her full potential. She is lonely, and scared, and somehow completely made her way into my heart. Katharine is my favorite of the three sisters.

Mirabella 💙🔥 - Rolanth – Elementalist Queen
The strongest of the sisters. The world already tells tales of her power. She is almost guaranteed to be the next queen, but she is constantly struggling with the idea of killing her sisters. She was raised among the people of the temple on her small, but very religious, island. She, too, has felt really lonely growing up.

Arsinoe ❤🐻 - Wolf Spring – Naturalist Queen
This sister for sure had the happiest upbringing, with friends and found family that actually loves her unconditionally. Sadly, she hasn’t developed any of her naturalist powers, but her best friend, Jules, is one of the strongest to have ever lived. She is desperate to develop any magical affinity, and starts tampering with magic that she probably shouldn’t, because this magic always comes with a price.

And even though Katharine is my favorite, I loved all three so much. And all three sisters are so beautifully morally grey, especially by the end of this story. Morally grey characters will forever by my favorites, and Kendare Blake gave me three strong, powerful, and smart ones to cry over and to root for.

Oh, and also, I told myself I wouldn’t devote a paragraph to this, but here we are with unpopular opinions: I don’t hate Joseph, not in the slightest. Like, did he do something he maybe shouldn’t have? Yes. Is this a realistic depiction of being a sixteen-year-old whose hormones are working double time? Yes. And I think he proved numerous times that he isn’t a bad guy. He does the “right” thing over and over, even if he is suppressing his own happiness. Also, I’m always here for all the sex positive depictions. More unpopular opinion: I totally ship him with the unpopular one to ship him with. Muahahahaha!

“I should think that is what anyone would wish- to be loved for themselves and not their position.”

Overall, I truly loved this. I can see it being one of my all time favorite series. And I cannot wait to start One Dark Throne immediately. Also, say a prayer for me that my Target still has the signed edition that I saw a few weeks ago.

Trigger/Content warnings: abuse, violence, and animal death.

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Buddy read with Kayla! ❤
Profile Image for Brittney ~ Reverie and Ink.
260 reviews4,948 followers
June 5, 2017
4.5 stars. Wow this was bloody fantastic.


The first 35% or so was ROUGH. I honestly would have DNF'ed this had it not been for friends telling me to keep going. I'M SO GLAD I DID. So if you're reading this and you get bored/overwhelmed with all the names/generally disinterested... it WILL pick up! (And don't worry about memorizing all the character names/who is who.)

Basically we have three triplets. They are separated at a young age and each raised in separate parts of the kingdom/island thing. Each of them is tailored to have one type of magic. When they reach 16, they are all supposed to face each other off with said magic, and whoever wins gets the throne. (Not only are they supposed to try and kill each other, they try to gain supporters and win suitors to help them in this.) Then, the surviving queen will choose a suitor who will act as 'king consort'. She will have said triplets (thanks to the curse on the island?), be sent away, rinse and repeat. Pretty depressing world, if you ask me. The general vibe is pretty dark and bleak, so be prepared.

*Very Minor spoilers below*

Anyway, I went into this fully expecting to favor one queen and not like the others- but I was surprised. I actually adored each of them - and felt really sorry for them. What I didn't expect was to get really invested in each of their stories AND all the suitors as well. Each queen has a "guy" that they are close to/favor... but things do not play out the way you'll expect them to. Shit gets cray.

We have Katherine - who is the 'poisoner queen' raised by the Poisoners. Except, she's so incredibly weak and isn't actually showing strength digesting said poisons. She's forced to eat poisoned food all the time and is constantly sick. Since she appears so weak, her clan is greatly concerned and tries to fake her strength. Poor Kat pretty much knows she's going to die- so her only chance at survive is to learn how to "woo" all the suitors. Enter Peityr - the boy who offers to train her on how to woo men.

Then there's Arsinoe who I just adored. She's strong, kind, and generally just badass. She's raised by the Naturalists who have a gift for animals. Each naturalist has the power to tame one animal - and that animal becomes theirs / they can control said animal for the rest of their life. Except Arsinoe can't seem to do that. But, she has dear friends and has a great attitude anyway -- though they don't expect her to live past the ascension year either. Then she meets Billy, and ... I can't say anything else.

Mirabella is the strongest of all the queens - her gift as an elementalist (she can control elements/weather) is extremely powerful. Everyone expects her to easily win/outlive her sisters... BUT... she is so incredibly kind and doesn't want to hurt them. I CANT EVEN with the guy. I can't. I can't. I'm not saying that's a good or bad thing either. Just wait.

AND THEN there's Jules, Arsinoe's best friend and very powerful naturalist who almost feels like a fourth main character. She has several POVs and she gets very tangled in things and her love story.. I can't.

SOOOOOO all that to say... the story picks up and lightly introduces you to each queen and blah blah. But their stories get intermingled REALLY quickly. And it happens in ways you won't ever suspect. And it gets emotional. And I was flailing and freaking out and.... Ugh. Just read it.

AND THEN THE END OHMERGSKERJSLKFJSLKDFJSLDKFJ. I DID NOT SEE THAT COMING. Okay okay, but everyone told me the end was crazy awesome- but just to give a heads up... it's not this huge action packed scene. It's one kicker at the very end.


Oh also, the audiobook was fantastic. LOVED the narrator. The writing felt a bit dry at the beginning and when I switched to audio, it felt a bit more lively!

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Profile Image for Hailey (Hailey in Bookland).
614 reviews87.8k followers
August 20, 2017
This was incredibly hard for me to get into. I found the first half to be quite boring but I just found the whole concept to be so interesting that I had to stick with it. I'm glad that I did because it did get better, but half of a book is a long time to not really be enjoying it.
Profile Image for Laura.
425 reviews1,254 followers
September 6, 2016
Three dark queens
are born in a glen,
sweet little triplets
will never be friends.

Three dark sisters
all fair to be seen,
two to devour
and one to be Queen.

This was SO much darker than I originally expected and it is GOOD. The world-building, the twists, the characters, the premise itself. It's hard not to be pulled deep into the story. Consider me invested! For a first book where clearly the concept had to be set up, as well as the world..I still found there was a lot going on. This just gives me more hope for the second where I have a feeling there will be a lot more action and excitement.

Three Dark Crowns follows a set of triplets, all three queens - heirs to the crown, though only one will reign. All three born with a different gift. At the age of six, they are separated to be raised by different families each of their same respective gift giving each a completely different upbringing. The sisters don’t see each other again until they turn sixteen, when they will have to kill each other leaving only one to be the ruling queen of Fennbirn. Every generation a new set of triplets is born. This is how it has always been.

Katharine is a poisoner. She’s supposed to be able to consume excruciating amounts of poison without any side-effects. The problem is Katharine’s gift is quite weak. The Arrons have been poisoning her as often as possible to try and build up her immunities. The result is a frail, feeble queen covered in scabs and other markings the poisoning attempts leave. The Arrons are desperate to keep a poisoner on the throne as it keeps their family on the Black Council. It has been a poisoner queen the last two years..

Mirabella is an elemental giving her power over the elements such as fire, water, and wind. This includes some capability of creating nasty storms and it’s pretty badass. She has the strongest gift out of her sisters making her the clear contender for the crown. This is why the temple openly backs her (something unheard of in years past). They want power on the island and need a queen on their side to seize that power from the Black Council giving importance back to the temple. Is Mirabella the Queen they all believe her to be or is her heart having different ideas?

Arsinoe is a naturalist. She should be able to make flowers bloom, have control over animals, and have an animal familiar. She cannot do any of these things and is still waiting on her gift. Her best friend Jules has an extremely strong naturalist gift giving her a mountain cat as a familiar. Arsinoe tried to escape her fate years ago by running away, but the island wouldn’t let her go leading to the banishment of Jules’ boy. One of the best things about Arsinoe is her loyalty to her friends. I love that the power of friendship truly means something to her.
Of course I do not wish that. No one really wishes to be a queen.

To be a queen is to be cursed. Two have a fate of death, while only one will rule. Knowing this makes you want to resist connecting with the characters too much. Unfortunately, I found something I enjoyed about each of the sisters. I may have changed who I’m rooting for several times and even now am not sure who my actual favorite is. But if the plot rings true, only one can live.

The book is written in third-person with each of the sister’s perspectives in addition to several other characters’ POV (some we see way less often than others). There are a variety characters including the families that raised the girls, friends, priestesses, and a couple love interests. It’s interesting how each sister is raised in a different city by a completely different family working on an entirely different gift. Each of these girls lives in a fully fleshed-out, complex world with their own characters and storylines. Though it’s all intertwined together, it still helps to make a plot that really moves along. There are plenty of twists and surprises throughout, a small bit of romance that doesn’t overwhelm, an epic world created, and the perfect amount of darkness. The ending had me screaming YES give me more!! I highly, highly recommend!
Profile Image for jessica.
2,555 reviews35.7k followers
February 28, 2019
omgggg. thats it. this book and series are cancelled. screw you, joseph. you big pile of human trash. i wish the bear had got ya.

also, can you believe how so slow and undeveloped this story is? the title may as well be ‘three boring crowns,’ as there is nothing dark about this book at all, which is a real let down.

the only reason im rounding up to three stars, when this is basically only worth two, is because of the ending. my gosh. if the entire book had been like the ending, this would be such a different review. and how dare she end it like that. its seriously forcing me to pick up the next book and i really dont want to. i feel coerced. 😒

2.5 stars
Profile Image for chan ☆.
1,072 reviews51.5k followers
April 4, 2018

this book was a real fcking treat. but i can't say i'm all that surprised given the description & how much i love

~dark shit™~

so imma break it down for you like this: we got 3 black haired hoes (shhh i know, thats misogynistic of me whatever i do my part in dismantling the patriarchy too) and they got some POWERS


more specifically we've got

kat the rat:
- overall pretty lame
- kind of described as a drowned rat, hence the name
- terrible taste in men

mirror mirror:
- also pretty lame but like she's kind of nice
- doesn't like slaughtering people even though it's kind of her job? get over urself, sis
- terrible taste in men, seriously what were you thinking

- the least lame
- wears pants (appreciate her trying to keep it spicy when she's forced to wear black everyday)
- pretty decent taste in men... but sweetie his name is billy so maybe not

annnnnd there's also a whole host of other insane ass side characters that i'm much too lazy to describe to you but rest assured they have equally as titillating character traits.

what do these hoes do you may ask

they try and kill each other! or like not yet, but that's kind of the point of the series. one ring to rule them one hoe wins the crown and the others go bye bye.

in all seriousness, i thought this was pretty excellent and i really appreciated the thought and detail that not only went into the world but also into the development of relationships. that's what makes books stand out to me. the three queens had distinct traits and their interactions with their own inner circles and with each other made them feel very real to me. and i mean cmon, the description alone for these is intriguing. i would highly recommend these to anyone who likes things with a historical fiction feel. maybe don't pick it up if you don't like political drama or slow moving plot. i wholeheartedly enjoyed this & hopefully you enjoy these hoes too

also this was a buddy read with nadhira who is lovely and delightful and put up with me being slow as shit in the beginning and then finishing this book before her. she's a queen & is a general treat to talk books with
Profile Image for sreeja.
65 reviews307 followers
January 8, 2020

Three dark sisters
All fair to be seen,
Two to devour
And one to be Queen”


well that was misleading and disappointing

IDK if i should give this 1/2 stars?

I am so surprised I didn’t like this book because this kind of books are my kind of books. I am so pissed and disappointed. The ending part was a HUGE improvement but honestly not enough for me to actually like this.

OKAY but I’m a positive person so let me just try and talk about the positive side of this book
The whole political aspect that this book had was probably one of the only interesting plot points in this book but even that didn’t feel well carried out. It was definitely very interesting to see the power struggles between the different factions of the island but boy was this book tedious.
I loved Katherine and Arsinoe, Mirabella was kind of just there to add drama. TBH I can’t even be bothered to think of the things that I actually liked about them.
um Katharine's character was really sweet and all and i felt with that ending we can see a more badass side of her and i am excited

I probably loved Arsinoe the most she was very carefree and just badass but her chapters were wasted on the love triangle :)

 photo youre-invited-to-suffer-join-2468000_zpsl6rkmuxk.png

Basically this book was a headache& I’m sorry I can’t even think about good stuff that happened.

okay unmarked spoilers from here on, because I’m just really done with this book and I’m not even going to bother, SO IF YOU WANT TO READ THIS BOOK, just don’t read from here on

This book was supposed to be dark and mysterious so when did it turn into an angsty teen drama with insta-love and love triangles. NO I did not sign up for this.I HATE the whole Joseph drama that we have going on in this book so much I can’t even begin to explain it.
First off, I hate Joseph Sandrin he is the definition of a fuckboy and i hate him. Like he is the main reason for this whole angsty teen drama to start in this book and I don’t understand his purpose in this book. He’s just this naturalist who is “so beautiful it hurts my eyes”.
I love Arsinoe okay she seemed like a really great character and she had a ton of potential and I don’t understand why the author felt the need to use her chapters to explore Jules and Joseph’s relationship. LIKE I don’t care about them. Jules pretty much became a main character and like she’s a strong character and all but please don’t waste the precious Arsinoe chapters talking about how much they loved each other as kids.
I wouldn’t have mind Jules getting a huge chunk of the chapters if the author was idk explaining her powers or showing her being badass with her cougar (idek mountain cat?). I don’t want to see her moping around about Joesph all right?LET ME JUST SAY, this whole drama is the worst. So basically, Joseph decides to hop on his boat and go somewhere.

Meanwhile Mirabella; the precious princess runs away from her mansion because she needs to clear her head after having a bad dream. So she runs away and decides to create a super devastating storm just because she feels like it and thought that it would be cool. And our boy Joseph gets caught in this storm and nearly dies from drowning so Mirabella saves him, from the mess that she had created in the first place might I add. So he’s cold and lonely and “delirious” as he likes to say it and he decides to sleep with Mirabella after knowing her for 5 minutes. WOW, what a great and totally necessary plot point we have here. And all this while, Joseph pretty much gave a ring to Jules and is “undyingly in love with her”. Great way to show it Joseph, by sleeping with your best friend’s sister while you’re engaged to another girl. And Mirabella obviously gets dragged home and she is heartbroken because she fell in love with someone she met for 5 minutes.
Honestly, Mira should have just let Joseph drown and saved us from the love triangle and insta love. Also Elizabeth, Mira’s “best friend” gets her arm chopped off because she helped Mira run away just so that she could “clear her head” and also sleep with a stranger. And Elizabeth is chill with it. In what world is a person alright with their right arm being severed from their body for a human trashbag such as Mira. Honestly if I was Elizabeth I would set my pet loose on Mira and probably get Katharine to poison her to be on the safe side.
What was the point of all this drama though? Can they all just become friends and I don’t know go all John Tucker Must Die on Joseph. Like stop hating each other please, pretty please?? Plus Mirabella and Jules would make good friends I don’t understand why their characters have to be stuck in a love triangle and hate each other.
Look this is not even the worst part of the book. This had so much potential to become an amazing story that was dark and gripping but nah. The world building was pretty much non-existent and that is what bothers me the most about this book, there is nearly 400 pages in this and still I did not come out of this book knowing anything about this world. I’m totally fine with fantasy books being slow but this book was slow without a purpose. Usually when a fantasy book is slow, the author is slowly building the world but nope that didn’t happen.
This was probably the biggest disappointment.The fact that it focuses more on love triangles and the sisters falling in love and long dramatic longing stares rather than having a gripping plot. I mean this could have been about badass sisters who yes, try to actually kill each other and it could have had amazing elements of strong female friendships and sisterhood. BUT HA it didn’t. Jules was such a great character and instead of being with her friend who could most probably die within the year she decides that it is for the best that she spends more time pining about her cheating boyfriend. Like no??? I want strong friendships and a dark/ gripping plot and this had none of it. I feel cheated omg.
All the character’s plot points were just terrible. Katherine on one hand gets lessons from this guy Pietyr so she can make all the suitors fall in love with her during their meeting but what is the point??? If you and your sisters are going to start killing each other after the whole ceremony thing what is the point of Katherine learning how to seduce guys except for the cliché “omg I don’t want any other guy I want you Pietyr” plot line. It’s cute but really cliché.
Arsinoe had the whole low magic thing going on and I WAS ACTUALLY INTERESTED. But was that the main point of her chapters? No. It was the drama between Jules and Joesph. Spare me.
This being said the last 50-80 pages of this book was wayyy better than the rest but it didn’t feel worth it to drag myself through the few hundred pages to only have it be amazing in the last few chapters. The very ending though like w0t is every guy in this book going to be an asshole?? (except for Billy of course ily billy) That last line was a good last line though it was kind of surprising but not
Like that whole plot twist was interesting but I wasn’t even THAT shocked. For all the hype about how great that ending was IDK it didn’t feel like it blew me away you know?? SO yeah I was just there acting all fake surprised when all that shit went down in the last few chapters because I couldn’t really care about the characters.
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There is like a huge hole in my heart right now because what was this book? I actually feel really bad for not liking it& this is the perfect example of why I am scared of hyped books. Okay but hopefully the next book will actually focus more on magic and powers and people trying to kill each other rather than the sisters being caught up in drama and love triangles.
Profile Image for human.
641 reviews1,016 followers
January 25, 2021

My pre-reading thoughts were so off that I really want to delete them. Instead, they will stay, as a testament to the fact that any and all hope that I had for this series has been destroyed.

A big thanks to Layla, for letting me take my time with this book (sorry about that by the way)! Check out her review here!

Spoiler alert!! DISCLAIMER: This review is filled with angry screaming, gifs, and spoilers. So if you haven't read the book yet, don't read this. If you somehow liked this book, don't read this either.

Now. Let's get on with it.


I feel so lied to by that synopsis, so let's start by tearing that apart.

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’s life or death. The night the sisters turn sixteen, the battle begins.

The last queen standing gets the crown.

Now, what does this incredibly misleading synopsis promise us?
- World-building
- Powerful queens
- ✨Magic✨
- Major high-fantasy elements
- Bloodshed
- Gore (maybe)
- Action
- At least SOME character development
- Political intrigue
- Meaningful drama

And what do we get instead?

The biggest problem I have with this book is the plot itself. Which is basically nonexistent. The synopsis tells you that the book is about the queens fighting for the throne, during their Ascension year. Well, this book is about everything before the action, and consists of pointless filler. Stuff happens but nothing is really happening??? They're all preparing for this huge competition but no one is ACTUALLY doing anything??? Nothing happens until the last 8%???

And, I mean, you could try to argue that this book was setting up character arcs so that the plot could be gone into more depth in later books, but the characters themselves were huge disappointments.

Katharine (which is apparently pronounced ka-ta-reen, btw) is characterized as the wEaK sMoL bEaN lacking an affinity for poisoning. A romance starts up from what I'm guessing was the fourth page with Pietyr (pronounced Peter, because speshul names are a stand-in for fantasy, now), complete with annoying insta-love heart-eyes and dramatic declarations of love. Katharine, of course, has a Juliette-esque character arc, in which she remains the same way for the entire book, get yeeted into the breccia domain by Pietyr for some reason, and crawls out demanding revenge. Because that's character growth. Definitely.

There's also Arsinoe (pronounced ar-sin-oy), who is supposed to have naturalist powers, which is basically growing flowers and controlling animals. Cinderella who? Keyword being supposed to, because she doesn't have naturalist powers at all. Instead, as we learn in the very last scene (last line, really) of the book, Arsinoe was a poisoner all along. How does this make sense, you ask? Don't worry, because I'm asking the same thing. Especially since we were told that the mother just ✨knows✨ which of the triplets has which power. Sets up quite nicely for a second book, don't you think?

There is, of course, a naturalist character: Juillenne (pronounced jo-we-en???), AKA Jules, AKA one of the biggest Mary Sues you'll ever meet. Not only is she the strongest naturalist seen in the past 50 or 60 years, but she will dO aNyThInG for Arsinoe, even if it means bEiNg ToRn AwAy FrOm HeR cHiLdHoOd LoVe, who turns out to be a complete piece of shit.

Finally, there's Mirabella, who is rumored by everyone to have incredible elemental powers and is favored for the throne. Of course, we don't know the extent of her powers, or how they even work, because she only uses them thrice in the entire book. She, like the rest of the main characters, has no personality, but what personality she did have, I hated. I mean, you've been brought up your entire life to kill your sisters and take the throne. Suddenly you grow a conscience and realize your sisters are actual people that you don't want to kill?? A little late for that, buddy. So, like any other YA protagonist, Mirabella runs away and ends up fucking her friend's boyfriend. (No, you did not read that last part incorrectly.)

Thing is, though, I can't even be mad at them for who they are. There's just nothing substantial that we are given to even hate! Katharine's defining trait is that she's bad at poisoning. Arsinoe's trait is that she's bad at naturalism (?). Juillenne's trait is that she's good at naturalism. Mirabella's trait is that she's good at elementalism but doesn't want to kill her sisters. Like, um, hello? That's not a personality? To make things worse, there is NO CHARACTER GROWTH. WHATSOEVER. The characters remain the same way for the entirety of the book and don't change. At all. (Except for Katharine who is basically Juliette 2.0 at this point.)

There's also a terrible romance for each of the main characters: Katharine and Pietyr (who was only supposed to be teaching her how to behave around suitors) share an insta-love-filled romance, until he throws her into the breccia domain. Arsinoe and some Billy-Chad have less of an insta-love, but that's because there's no chemistry. Jules and Joseph are supposed to be childhood-friends-turned-lovers, but, you guessed it! Insta-love! Joseph then falls in love with Mirabella, creating a weird love triangle, because that's all this book needed.

And those were only the main characters! There is a multitude of various side characters, most of whom I've forgotten the names of, but one who sticks out in particular: Joseph I-Don't-Give-A-Shit. This guy. Oh boy. This guy is the most hate-worthy character of the entire book. Forget annoying Mirabella, forget little miss Mary Sue. Who needs Umbridge when you've got Joseph?

For starters, Joseph is Jules' childhood-friends-to-lovers love interest. At least, that's what we're told because all I saw was inta-love. Everywhere. He takes her on a couple of ostentatious dates, gives her a ring, and spouts off dramatic expressions of love we've all seen millions of times. Then, he's given a task, something involving sailing a ship to the "island". There just so happens to be a storm, in which Joseph capsizes on some other part of Fennbirn, where Mirabella just so happens to be. And if you read that earlier paragraph, well, you know what happens.

The thing is, the little rat doesn't come clean to Jules right away.

Instead, he tells her after she becomes suspicious of things. Then, there happens to be a bear attack on Arsinoe, courtesy of the 'low-magic' she had been practicing with Jules' mother, Madrigal. And so, Jules takes Joseph-the-literal-worst back, when in reality, she should have dumped him into the trash can and then set it on fire where he belongs.

Everything is puppies and rainbows with them again, until Joseph sees Mirabella at the Beltane festival. And, well, you know what happens.

Jules doesn't know that Mr. Of-Course-I-Love-You is completely in love with Mirabella until she sees him practically drooling over her at the Quickening Ceremony (think talent show for the queens to garner support), and accidentally sends a bear at Mirabella, whom Joseph promptly jumps in front of, hErOiCaLlY, to PrOtEcT. Nevermind the fact that she has fire powers.

(Please note that this all happens after Jules takes Joseph back, in which he tells her that hE LuRvEs HeR and iT wAs AlL aN aCcIdEnT and hE nEvEr MeAnT iT. Urgh.)

In the last chapter, Joseph tells Jules that he loves Mirabella. So. That's the end of that.

There were enough side characters worthy of a Shakespeare play, however, most of them were completely irrelevant, interchangeable, and forgettable. None of them really do, well, anything.

Now. Can someone remind me which genre this book is supposed to fall under?

Fantasy, correct?

Well, I'd like to have some words with whoever thought this was a high-fantasy book. And anyone who agrees.

What we're supposed to get is a bunch of badass queens, using their """incredibly""" powers to duke it out for the throne. Instead we get:
- Katharine, who has no poisoner powers but an affinity to make poisons. If you ask me, the poisoner power itself is pretty dumb (I mean, you eat poison just because you're immune to it? And apparently you could cure people, but that's a pOwEr LoNg FoRgOtTeN, probably for a plotline in one of the later books.)
- Arsinoe, who has no naturalist powers because she was a poisoner AlL aLoNg, and had been using 'low-magic', which is basically just general blood magic.
- Jules, who does have naturalist powers, but that's basically just opening flowers and controlling animals.
- Mirabella, who actually DOES HAVE incredible elemental powers, but we only see her using them THREE TIMES. IN THE ENTIRE BOOK.

According to an info-dump at the beginning of the book, there are other powers, mostly which result in the other queens being drowned at birth, but those are extremely rare.

I feel like this book had a good basis to build the magic-system around, but it spent so much time doing absolutely nothing that it never really got around to it. There's still definitely a lot of potential, it's just that I wish we had actually gotten to see the powers themselves, rather than a history lesson every time they were mentioned.

I mean, apart from the fantasy elements themselves, the political drama was there, just not expanded upon as much as I hoped it would be. We've got the priestesses, who favor Mirabella for the throne, and the Arrons, who basically work to keep a poisoner on the throne. Their struggle for power is something that is alluded to and hinted at more than it is actually described, at least for a good three-quarters of the book.

The world-building itself is also terribly lacking. We're told that this magic exists only on the island of Fennbirn, who has ties with "the mainland". Some dudes from the mainland come to the island to court the queens and become king-consort. I'm pretty sure the king-consort of Fennbirn is from the mainland (whatever that *actually* means, because there was a line in the book saying how they called everything that was Fennbirn "the mainland") to maintain good ties with the mainlanders, and to retain their way of life. Why, exactly, was ever explained. Descriptions of the island itself are also pretty nonexistent and only serve to confuse you more.

After going through the braincell trash compactor more commonly known as the Shatter Me Series, my standards for writing have been utterly shattered destroyed. I will accept anything without complaint as long as it has no eye descriptions to speak of. Thankfully, this book was exactly that. A bit too much, I think, because the entire book was filled with flat, telling-but-no-showing writing, which made me feel like a glass wall was between me and what was going on in the book. I was in no way feeling like I was "immersed" in the story.

That being said, there's another BIG problem with the writing of this book, namely that the passage of time in this book was completely screwed up. We aren't told exactly how much time passes between each of the chapters, or even how much time passes during the chapters themselves. Needless to say, I was extremely confused for the majority of the first half before deciding to accept that this would never be clarified and I would just become more confused if I tried to figure it out.

However, there is one thing that had me straight up enraged about this book, and that is the unequal distribution of chapters. See, this book is split into chapters describing what Katharine, Jules, Arsinoe, and Mirabella experience over the course of the story.

Except, instead of there being an even switching of the perspectives as you would expect with these sorts of books, we barely see Mirabella in the first third, barely see Katharine in the second third, and barely hear from Arsinoe in the last third.

The one character whose thoughts we are almost constantly aware of?

Jules, of course.

So yeah. This book was a waste of ten hours and my last braincell. The audiobook experience just made it all the more worse, especially considering that it was ALL IN PRESENT TENSE.

Wow. Just writing this review brought up so many angry memories.


I'm done. (except not really because we're reading the rest of the series because of how masochistically "optimistic" we are.)


It's that time of year again: buddy-reading cursed books with Layla! I actually have some hope for this one, so hopefully it doesn't let us down like members in a group project Shatter Me.
Profile Image for Era ➴.
217 reviews561 followers
May 27, 2023
[old review, potential new one to come]

As predicted, my rating went down on this reread.

I used to love this book and now I still like it but I also know every single reason I should hate it and it’s very confusing.

Honestly, if I had been this critical the first time I read this book, I wouldn’t have been nearly as interested in it. Probably would have fallen for the plot twists still, because I’m gullible as fuck, but I wouldn’t have liked it as much as I did (and still do for no good reason).

The writing wasn’t amazing. I honestly think I could have done more with it than Kendare Blake did. There was too much telling and not enough showing. The writing was too straightforward and not elaborate enough for a book trying to have the dark aesthetic that this was aiming for.

“Natalia raises her eyes to the dais and finds Luca’s cold, stony gaze.
Natalia smiles.”

This scene was supposed to be tense and harsh. Plans are being foiled, characters are proving themselves, conflict is brewing. But having the second sentence start with Natalia’s name again, right after the other one, kind of took away from the mood this was trying to set. The sentence “Natalia smiles” looks more like a sentence that you would find in a fifth-grade grammar lesson covering subject and predicate (if you were not raised learning English grammar, I envy you).

If this had said something like, “Natalia raises her eyes to the dais, meeting Luca’s stone-cold glare.
Slowly, her lips curving into a cold crescent, she smiles.
And she doesn’t look away.”

it probably would have been more atmospheric (maybe? kind of? my writing isn’t all that great). There needed to be more tension and atmosphere to that scene.

These lines just didn’t convey enough.

“She feels elated. The lightning is her favorite. The lightning and the storms, the electricity coursing through her blood—it vibrates down to her bones.”

“She feels elated.” Nothing else. No real expression of excitement. Just the line informing us that she (Mirabella) is elated. There is no emotion, no sign of feeling, and no real information on what this is like for her.

It would be more if it said something like, “Her heart races, pumping electricity through her veins as the sky fills with lightning. Her chest rises and falls, her breaths coming fast in her elation. The lightning and the storms are her favorite - they make her feel alive.”

That was probably cheesy, but at least it kind of gave you a more evocative feeling of her excitement.

The plot was kind of dragging. I feel like some of the major moments were written like they were minor moments, which made it feel more boring and less like a story progression. The writing didn’t help much either, since the storyline might have made up for the simple narration style if there was more elaboration in the plot.

I personally really enjoyed the idea of the triplet queens battling for the crown. I also liked the idea of the gifts: poisoner, naturalist, elemental (the three most common gifts), war-gifted and oracle (much less common). The world-building wasn’t incredibly outstanding, but it was pretty unique and had enough creativity.

“Every gift is light and dark. We naturalists can make things grow, but we also coax lobsters into pots, and our familiars tear rabbits to shreds. Elementals burn down forests as easily as they water them with rain. The war gift is for protection as well as slaughter. Even those with the sight are often cursed with madness and paranoia. Even the poisoners are also healers.”

The characters weren’t as appealing as I remembered them being. Which makes sense, since the first time I read this was seventh grade. I’m a lot more critical of my books now after meeting several dumpster fires and an unfortunate amount of problematic shit.

Katharine is the poisoner queen, able to eat or drink any poison without effect. Well, supposedly. Katharine’s poisoner gift is actually extremely weak, causing her to be very sickly and small. She can't handle most all. Her personality was very meek and sweet and quiet...and that was basically it. She’s completely obedient to the Arrons, her foster family, who basically abuse her because they want her to be the queen.

The sad thing is, you can’t really critique Katharine for “having no personality” because there are actually kids out there who have been raised under so much pressure and expectation that their entire lives are centered around satisfying those expectations (hello, my entire childhood).

“It would be sweet to be cared for despite her faults, and to be wanted for her person rather than the power she comes with.”

Arsinoe is the naturalist queen, and she has a very fuck-it-all, screw-you attitude that I loved. She’s very brash, doesn’t care what other people think, keeps everything behind this idgaf personality. Arsinoe is a sarcastic, tough-minded person who doesn’t really care that much about the crown. Yes, she wants to survive, but she doesn’t really have any ambition to be queen. She just doesn’t want to be killed.

She’s supposed to be able to tame animals and bloom bushes, but her gift is also very weak. Her gift is so weak, in fact, that she doesn’t have a familiar - an animal that a naturalist is bonded to. The stronger the naturalist, the more impressive the animal. And Arsinoe doesn’t have one at all.

“Arsinoe hides everything behind the same easygoing smirk.”

Mirabella is the elemental queen. She can summon storms on command, blaze fires, and send earthquakes through the ground. Unlike her sisters, Mirabella actually has a powerful gift, which makes the people believe that she is the chosen queen. She’s one of the most powerful queens in history.

She’s basically tapped to win the crown, which would be great if she had any inclination to kill her sisters. Which she doesn’t. Mirabella tries to be responsible and dutiful to the expectations and restrictions placed on her, but she really doesn’t want to kill. She could have been badass and brutal, in an “I will bash in your face with a lightning bolt if you get in my way” - which most people kind of assumed she was like. But she wasn’t.

“Mirabella has just filled the air with lightning. Gorgeous, bright bolts, crackling across the sky and crashing down in thick veins on all sides. Long, repeated strikes that brightened the interior like day.”

Mirabella was my personal favorite, but honestly none of the characters had a ton of personality. I just liked Mirabella’s narrative the best.

I think too much effort was put into progressing the plot and trying to add tension. The thing is, there was so much more effort to drag the plot out and make it suspenseful that the storyline just...dragged. It was supposed to be a slow buildup to the Quickening, but there wasn’t a buildup at all.

If more had gone into the characters and the writing, this book would have had so much more intrigue and a much more satisfying aesthetic. For me, this book was trying to skate by only on an interesting plot, and that’s just not working. The characters had a lot of potential but not enough development. They could have been much stronger if they’d been more focused and had more personality.

A lot of people have been calling the characters “useless”, but I think it’s just because they weren’t really driving the plot and nothing seemed like it was happening. They could have been so much better. If they had been stronger personalities, it would have drawn more readers in and made this a much better book.

Overall, the plot could have been stronger if more of the important events had been highlighted. The characters weren’t as good as they could have been. The writing needed a bit more nuance. This book had an interesting concept and almost achieved a nice aesthetic, but the delivery fell a little too short.

Profile Image for Kiki.
197 reviews8,523 followers
February 20, 2017
How could a book with such a promising premise fall so flat? (This is a stupid question and by now, having been a Goodreads member for seven years, I ought to know better.)

The thing is, right, that the first chapter was absolutely mesmerizing. In fact, Katharine remained the only character I was even mildly interested in for the rest of the book. But sometimes I like to look at it this way: if I were a literary agent, and this book came into my query inbox, and the author had attached the first five pages, then I would have requested the full manuscript. That's how good the first chapter was.

Everything after the first chapter was punishing. Absolutely nothing about Arsinoe, or the limp, anticlimactic backstory of Jules and Joseph, is in any way interesting. Mirabella is just another special girl who can control the elements, the same as the 95,000 other YA heroines who can "command fire" or "command water". Elemental power is so fucking tired at this point, while I know that any overused trope can be reinvented to be fresh, this book doesn't manage it. It's dry as fuck.

Whatever, dude. I'm bored of even writing this review. I'm bored just thinking about this book. But the thing is, right, I was promised a story about a deathly showdown between three sisters (remarkably relatable for me) and what I got was bland shite romance and nonsensical world building and overused tropes that feel overused. Just a giant meh from me, I think.

Profile Image for Melissa ♥ Dog/Wolf Lover ♥ Martin.
3,540 reviews9,967 followers
February 13, 2017
My September Owlcrate Box! I wasn't sure I was going to read this book, but I am now of course :-)


I didn't like much of anything about this book but the ending.

And NOT because it was the ending, I mean the ending was really good. I will get the next book from the library just to see what happens because some things that I thought might be happening did but in a different way <--- which only makes sense to me. AND there is the note of revenge! I love revenge and this person deserves revenge!!!!!!!!!! REVENGE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Sorry, a momentary lapse of reason.

I'm so glad that I wasn't alone in not really liking the book. I hate when I feel so alone. The book has people that love it or hate or in between. It just wasn't for me. I didn't much like anyone but Jules and Arsineo seemed nice. Katharine I felt sorry for the whole time, BUT .... and Mirabella just ugg.

Anyhoo, I'm hope in the next book the REVENGE gets to happen. And uh, the other stuff I'm not telling you about. =)

MY BLOG: Melissa Martin's Reading List
Profile Image for Trina (Between Chapters).
876 reviews3,754 followers
March 2, 2017
While I was reading this I had several people tell me they were hesitant to read it because of the mixed reviews and wanted to know what my thoughts were, so I will try to address whether or not I think you will enjoy this book.

It has a slow start, and I think that's why a lot of people struggle getting into it. There are 3 POVs, set in different locations, with different politics, side characters, and types magic to learn. You essentially get 3x the introduction. It did feel slow at first to me, but most fantasy takes a while to warm up, and considering this has to do world building 3 times I thought it was completely appropriate here. Around page 150 the storylines start to weave together and I felt the book really hit its stride. I never thought the pacing was slow after that. If you need instant gratification in a story, this may not be for you.

A friend expressed an issue with the writing style, and honestly I had not noticed it at all until she mentioned it. After that, I could see it if looking for it, but it wasn't something I picked out naturally. It did not hinder my reading at all and I personally had no problems with the flow of the writing. If this happens to be a style you get hung up on, I can imagine you may not like the book.

If you need ships that burn with the passion of a thousand suns, this may not be the book for you. Each sister is presented with a love interest (all hetero, btw) but none were developed enough for me to really see why the characters cared for each other. I was taking points off for this lack of development at first, but upon reflection I feel like Blake was purposefully playing with gender roles. How often are women in media reduced to being no more than love interests and not given complex roles? She has done this to the men in her world and I kind of appreciate it. Romance is definitely not the forefront of the series though. One thing I enjoyed about the relationships were that they added some seriously soap opera style juicy drama for the characters to react to. I was here for it. If you can't do these tropes or the cheese, you might nope out.

The plot wasn't what I was expecting. From the synopsis, we are expecting this brutal battle between the sisters. This first book is really the lead up to all of that. I did feel like there was a complete story arc and was satisfied, but if you are expecting a Hunger Games style showdown to be the majority of this book, you may feel let down.

If you don't like beautiful but useless world maps, you may get irritated quickly. There are so many main and important locations that aren't marked on the map and yet many things are marked that are never mentioned. The directions are off as well. A city shown on the East side of the map is said to be West in the text.

Where this book really shines, and why you might love it, is if you want a book that gives power to the matriarchy. In our world where we might talk about people with the phrase "men and women," this world leads with women: "women and men." That's such a little thing but reflecting their power hierarchy in their language is great world building. Plus I won't lie that seeing that phrasing made me really proud.

The three sister Queens were very distinct characters and I loved every single one of them. They felt well developed to me, although I wish I'd been able to spend more time with them. There are some great female friendships present. These are strong, complex women who have many layers and I can't wait to see more.

Also, I had a couple of theories going throughout the book and not one of them came true (yet?). She really set you up to question things and right when you think you have it figured out she goes and pulls something else.

I pretty much loved this.
Profile Image for emma.
1,872 reviews54.8k followers
May 11, 2017
3.25/5. but a FUN 3.25!!

This book was far from perfect, but hell if it wasn’t a good time. And after two not so fun reads, I needed it!

Did I like any of the characters? Uh, not totally. In fact, I hated a bunch of them. (I would physically fight Mirabella and Joseph if I was ever given the chance, and I would like roughly 50% of the characters to line up so I can efficiently slap each of them across the face.) Most of them were super flat--I’d say all of them except Arsinoe, Jules and maybe Pietyr. (That’s pretty insane because there are roughly 200 characters in this book.)

The three queens are not my ideal. I was hoping for a little more badassery in all honesty. Mirabella is an emotional idiot (who became best friends with some rando in a day, which reminded me SO MUCH of my Justin Bieber fanfiction-reading days. Except instead of like, Selena Gomez or Demi Lovato, Mira’s bestie is a shockingly flat priestess). Katharine starts out the same way, and Arsinoe is just kind Maybe they'll bond in the next book over their mutual terribleness.

The world building was a little rough, too. This is one of those books that’ll give you a furrowed brow for the first chunk. The whole thing was surprisingly low fantasy for how confusing it was. Props to Blake for not info-dumping, but the weaving in of background was a little slow for my tastes. Also, there are like a bajillion names in this? The map is, though pretty, very confusing, and the time I spent figuring out who Ellis was gave me a headache. And maybe I’m a nerd, but I also just want a history lesson on this world. That’s such a fun part of fantasy books!

Even though this book had a LOT of problems (and didn’t really make it to a lot of the fun stuff they spent the whole time talking about?) it was still pretty fun. So I don’t want to give it a low rating.

I’d be giving this book 3 stars if not for the literal last sentence. It filled me with hope for more bad bitches, gave me a halfhearted belief that maybe (MAYBE) I’ll actually like a certain character next time around, and made me wanna pick up the next book. So it’s not over, folks.

Bottom line: yeah, read this! It’s just a little silly and a little fun, and I’m looking forward to the rest of the books.
Profile Image for Caz (littlebookowl).
302 reviews40.2k followers
July 5, 2019
Rating: 2.5 stars

I've been wanting to read this for the longest time because the synopsis sounded so good. Maybe the anticipation contributed a bit, maybe it didn't, but this fell flat for me.

I was expecting a fast-paced, action-driven story with a lot of intrigue and strategy, but I was forcing myself to push through, even when the pace improved. Most of the characters, including the 3 young queens, were flat and I often had trouble understanding their motivations. I wanted more development and an insight into their desires, but without these their actions weren't always believable.

I was pretty confident that I wasn't going to continue the series until I hit the last page... I'll admit I'm now curious to know what will happen next, but I'm not sure if it's enough to actually pick up the sequel. Do the later books improve?
Profile Image for Ben Alderson.
Author 21 books13.5k followers
June 29, 2016
Firstly, I have to say that I really did not jell with this book. It took me a moment to get used to the POV it was written in and also, didn't really understand what was happening in the first three chapters, then when I realised that it was written from different perspectives every chapters i GOT IT!
P.s that is not the books fault, completely my fault!
I really did enjoy this novel, the ending was brilliant.
My only issues was it could be slow at times, and not much happened in the middle of the novel. Apart from that it was a good start to a series, brilliant world builder and gave insight into the characters we were introduced to........
Looking forward to the next book,
Profile Image for April (Aprilius Maximus).
1,110 reviews6,576 followers
October 12, 2019
*.) Queens of Fennbirn ★★★★
1.) Three Dark Crowns ★★★★
2.) One Dark Throne ★★★★
3.) Two Dark Reigns ★★★.5


The first half was pretty slow, but THAT ENDING THO!
Profile Image for Reynita ★ The Night Reader ★.
123 reviews939 followers
November 7, 2017

Review to come.


Actually, I didn't want to dnf this but I just can't bear reading it anymore. I quite enjoyed reading it, the plot was pretty good but sometimes I somehow just felt bored with this book and the characters weren't annoying or boring. They were all pretty good to read for me. ( except Joseph and he's also the reason I didn't finish this book)

I didn't finish this book because of the love triangles. I HATE love triangles so much and before reading this book I already knew that there would be love triangles BUT I didn't expect the love triangles would be this annoying and this bad.


I'm just confused over how fast the romance between Mirabella and Joseph happened and Joseph already has a girl he claimed he has loved for his whole life and he literally said that.

"For the girl I've loved my whole life." He does not give 
Mirabella her name. Fine, then. Let him keep it.

I thought Joseph only loved Jules and there was a scene that I even squealed over how sweet he was toward Jules but then it all happened so quickly and I changed my mind about him. I just felt really sorry for Jules. How could Joseph betray her?! Ugh. Jules deserves someone better than Joseph.

So Mirabella saved Jules and the love triangles began. It was so fast that I was like


Joseph was caught in the middle of the storm on the way to Trignor to return the boat to it's owner and Mirabella saw this and she used her gifts to help me and basically, she saved him.

And the love triangles happened so fast. They just met. Like literally just met and Joseph kissed her and she kissed him back and I think they also slept together ... but I don't know *shrugs*

So I didn't finish this book because of the love triangles and the insta love, which are my bookish pet peeves and I gave this book two stars instead of one star because I quite enjoyed reading it ( but, sometimes I felt bored ) and the characters were pretty good except Joseph. I fucking hate him. I hope he will die in the next book.

Thank you for reading and liking this. Hope you all have a great day!

I'm currently reading it and the cover feels so smooth! I love rubbing the cover. LOL

But ... Am I the only one who does this?
Profile Image for ✨    jami   ✨.
681 reviews3,952 followers
January 9, 2019
“Three dark queens
Are born in a glen,
Sweet little triplets
Will never be friends

Three dark sisters
All fair to be seen,
Two to devour
And one to be Queen”


A thorough guide of what I was thinking while reading this book

start: "Oh, actually this is super interesting. love the set up of the world and the queens"

100 pages in: "Okay. This is a bit boring, and there are so many characters I am a little confused. I'll keep reading"

200 pages in: No. This is not good I'm not enjoying it. The plot is too jumpy and inconsistent, and I hate the characters. I will give this 1 freakin star mark my words. I HATE THIS WITH SO MUCH PASSION

300 pages in: actually, I take it back. this isn't so bad. It's getting closer to Beltane now. I still hate some characters, but it's getting much more interesting.

finishing it: HOLY SHIT. I can't believe Arsinoe !!!! and OMG Peityr DID THAT. That bear !! THAT FREAKIN BEAR. ohmygod Mirabella & Arsinoe !! Katherine !! THIS IS CRAZY

me later on: But despite the ending, I still hate the characters and lets be real the middle was awful. I still don't know who some characters are. I don't know how to feel about this book

Honestly straight up what I think this book has is a marketing issue. When this book was pitched across booktube (and I'm pretty sure those reviews were sponsored) I was hearing about this being a massive, fight to the death battle between three sisters so one could be queen. I was expecting it to be like The Hunger Games: Queen Edition. And I know I was NOT the only one with that assumption.

This is DEFINITELY not the Hunger Games, there's not even a battle to the death so if you're waiting for that ... don't hold your breath.

I put this book down for a long, long time Like, a few months. And when I picked it up again with my expectations reset I enjoyed it alot more. If you're going into this you NEED to have your expectations straight. It's a very political book, with the fighting between the sisters done is a much more subtle way. It's not bloody, gory and dramatic like the Hunger Games this is a completely different thing.


• THERE IS AN ABSURD AMOUNT OF CHARACTERS. !!!!. And it's so confusing. Who the fuck am I reading about now, I'm sorry ? Who's mother's brother is this ?? Is that his cousin or his sister ?!!. It's just way too much, and they're not explained well at all so I was just incredibly lost and confused except for the main characters

• WRITING STYLE. This is written in present tense, which I wasn't a huge fan of and it jumps around alot. Every chapter is about a different character, but that wasn't too bad for me. What I didn't like is how the plot kinda meandered and randomly changed directions. It wasn't always cohesive and that had me a little ..... what is going on

• JOSEPH !!!! WHAT A FUCKBOY I HATED HIM SO MUCH. On a scale of 1 to 10 for despicableness of a character Joseph is a solid fucking 11. He's just a terrible person !! and his actions are inexcusable !! and I literally don't care what u say I hate him for all time

• and while we're talking about SHIT boy characters Pietyr was also a terrible fucking person and sooo creepy and I highkey hate him

• Lack of representation. I LOVED that it was a matriarchal society, but in terms of rep this fell really short. There was no lgbt rep, and no characters who were poc and everyone was able bodied. So, yeah. LAME.

• It was boring in parts. While I think it was a political book and so wasn't going to be the fastest, there were parts where characters would just be talking and it was SLOW. Or when an event would be repeated just from a different characters point of view

• The characters were okay but not the best in terms of depth and complexity. I'm kinda gonna give it a get out of jail free card here because it IS the first book in the series, but STILL I think the characters were not the best. While they each had a unique voice which I liked, they weren't all /that/ complex which was kind of disappointing


• Political intrigue. Yes bitch I'm all ABOUT THAT. I loved the subtlety of this book with it's political themes, and the way the differing political structures are vying for power. I loved that the governing systems were ambiguous in their morality and none of them seemed to be a great options, and I loved there was so much questioning of the traditions and also structures like the temple and the priestesses.

• AMAZING female friendships ! There were soo many solid friendships between female characters and it was great ! I also liked there was good male/female friendships and that they were incorporated into the story so naturally.

• The matriarchal society/ worldbuilding in general. In this world, the Queens have three triplets and then they must leave. A council rules for the queens while they grow up, and then the queens fight eachother and whoever wins becomes the queen - becoming Queen also gives their families lots of political influence and power and so it's as much about the Queens friends as it is about them. The worldbuilding was AMAZING, really detailed and a super interesting society. I could not fault this book here it was really well thought out, and connected to the political aspects of the plot so perfectly. I also loved that the society was matriarchal, just because it was interesting af.

• sympathetic characters. !! I liked that none of the queens were antagonised so you actually were rooting for all of them. It made it much more interesting because you didn't want any of them to kill eachother at all

• The ending. SupER set up the next book and actually left me on a really excited note. I am not maly brainstorming the next books in the series tbh


Not the best book ever but not the worst. I wish I'd gone into this knowing it was a political intrigue book instead of thinking it was gonna be battle royale because I think I would have liked it more.
I am actually kind of looking forward to the sequel though ! Even if it's not most highly anticipated.
Profile Image for Ashley Nuckles.
190 reviews7,203 followers
July 25, 2019
This was an all around great story, but sometimes the characters made me mad lol, otherwise BRING ON BOOK TWO
Profile Image for Hamad.
1,048 reviews1,381 followers
August 11, 2018
This review and other non-spoilery reviews can be found @The Book Prescription

My version of the story:

“Three dark crowns
is not a bad book
Three dark queens
a bit undercooked

Three dark sisters
Who are well known,
enough to make me read
one dark throne”

“Every gift is light and dark.”

🌟 I feel my reviews are becoming a bit clichéd because I keep talking about expectations.

🌟 But really I have found that expectations really affect how we review and rate books. Three Dark Crowns biggest problem was its synopsis, it has an excellent synopsis, the synopsis itself is worth a 5 stars but the book is not. I know it is not bad to have a good blurb but is bad when it is misleading.

🌟 I have seen many bad ratings of this book so I decided to go into it without reading the reviews and to judge by myself. Most of the book my rating was 2.5/5 stars (50%) until the last pages were it jumped to 3 stars.

🌟 I can relate to both positive and negative reviews. I mean the synopsis implies that it will be action packed, I thought that it will be like the hunger games, they will be in a forest and they will start fighting from the start. But it was slower than that, but at the same time it was not a slow-paced books. I felt that the pacing was quite good.

🌟 It focused more on the politics -which I liked- and the romance -which I didn’t like- and what I thought the book will be is probably going to be the 2nd or 3rd book.

🌟 The writing was good, not special but good. I mean it is not magical or whimsical as other authors but was easy to follow and there were no confusions!

🌟 The characters were acceptable but sometimes they sounded the same and they can definitely use some more depth. There was some unnecessary fast romance that helped move the plot forward but it also could have been better once again.

🌟 Summary: This is a book with average characters, plot and writing. I have been reading way denser books so I didn’t feel it was slow but it may be slower than your expectations. The ending was not expect-able for me and it saved the book. I feel that the series will get better and that’s what I heard. If I have an advice to those who haven’t read this yet, just lower your expectations and don’t focus on the synopsis.

“It would be sweet to be cared for despite her faults, and to be wanted for her person rather than the power she comes with.”

🌟 Did you read this book? Did you have high expectations and was the synopsis misleading? Who is your favorite queen?
Profile Image for Ikram.
211 reviews1,281 followers
December 14, 2016

“Three dark queens
Are born in a glen,
Sweet little triplets
Will never be friends

Three dark sisters
All fair to be seen,
Two to devour
And one to be Queen”

When I first heard about the premise of this book, I instantly knew I was going to enjoy it because it sounded right up my alley. Basically, there are three dark sisters who have to try to kill each other after their sixteenth birthday because only one of them can be queen. DUN DUN DUUUUN. Tell me this doesn’t sound like the coolest story ever.

Katharine is the youngest of the three sisters. She is supposed to be a poisoner which means that she can ingest the deadliest poison without getting sick, but that’s not really the case. Katharine is unable to tolerate the weakest poison. She is small and frail and is basically sucking at being a poison witch.

Arsinoe is a naturalist witch. She should be able to bloom the reddest flower and control the deadliest animals but just like her sister, Arsinoe sucks at being a witch.

Mirabella is an Elemental witch and she does not suck at all. She is the fiercest of all three sisters. She started using her powers at a very young age and now the whole island is rooting for her to be queen. Well… except her two sisters.

➨ The info dumps: The first few chapters are packed with too much information. It gets hard to keep up after a while. A relatively large cast of characters is introduced all at once and the magic system is also explained in those same chapters. I feel like this is the main reason why people disliked this book. Some people might get annoyed and dnf it but if you just give it a chance and stick with it you won’t regret it. The second half of the book is so interesting and keeps you on the edge of your seat and don’t even get me started on that ending.

➨ Joseph: What the bloody hell, man? The only possible explanation I can think of is that


Overall, I feel like this is such an under-hyped book. It was really good. You guys need to pick this one up asap.

Thanks for reading. Please share your thoughts.
Initial Reaction:
WHAT! You can't leave me with an ending like that! I need answers!!

Profile Image for ♛ may.
806 reviews3,839 followers
February 7, 2017

Buddy read with my girl, Bianca

One word: A N T I C L I M A C T I C

What was even the purpose of this book, omg.

Three dark queens
are born in a glen,
sweet little triplets
will never be friends

Three dark sisters
all fair to be seen,
two to devour
and one to be Queen

^^That’s probably the best part of the book.

Let’s do a quick introduction to our characters, shall we? I saw these on EpicReads and was likes yasssss. #accurate




So these are our main characters, the three queens who must prove to the world why they are fit and powerful enough to be the ruling queen.

I mean the whole idea in general is pretty warped, one queen having to kill her two sisters in order to claim the crown, but even so, I was so excited to see how it would play out. But I feel like the heart thrilling action was hidden behind technical jargon and crappy “romances” (for lack of better word).

Let’s roll the flaws quickly:

- Joesph
- Too many characters were introduced at once and it was hella confusing to understand who or what was taking place
- The beginning chapters were S O long (I struggled through them) yet the last chapters were so short, a bit of variety in chapter lengths would have helped in that department
- J O S E P H
- The ending, I mean, does it get any more anticlimactic?!!??!!!??
- J O S E P H

The pros about this book was that it was different from anything I’ve ever read and the idea could have made for a fabulous book if it just wasn’t so drown out by the world building and useless secondary characters.

Also, I really love Jules, she is my queen and I will protect her.

“Only a king-consort is fool enough to love a queen,”

I’m not entirely sure if I will read the second book in this series, perhaps, or perhaps I’ll just chuck it with the rest of the fantasy books that left me unsatisfied. :p

“Queens are not supposed to love their sisters. She has always known that, even when they were together at the Black Cottage, where she had loved them anyway.”

2 stars!!!
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