Book: Three Dark Crowns, Book 1 of Three Dark Crowns Series
Dates Read: Jan 1-3, 2018
Overall Review (out of 5): 4 light-hearted fluff points out of 5
There isn’t a better way to start off a reading year than with some good old YA. At least that’s what I find, as it’s always best to progress to more serious reading material as the year goes on then start there. YA keeps you reading in the meantime.
My 4/5 rating is not that this is high-class fiction, but as YA novels go, Three Dark Crowns was a fun, inventive, and thoroughly engrossing ride.
The story follows the 16th year in the lives of three would-be Queens on the mythical island of Fennbirn. The island is ruled by a goddess who bestows one of three types of powers to the people of the island. There are naturalists, who have familiars and can manipulate and master nature, poisoners, who can eat poison and not die (weird superpower, but also useful, I suppose?), and elementals, who can control the earthly elements (like an avatar!). The Queens are always triplets and they each possess one of the gifts. They hang around in local families for about 10 years after leaving their secluded birth home in the woods and train their gifts because the previous Queen got the hell out of dodge after she has the triplets… I guess, leaving a 16 years gap in government? Yeah, that was a plot hole that seems rather odd. Anyways, they train because on their 16th year the triplets each endeavor to be ‘The Queen’ and try to kill their other two sisters. Lots of ceremonies, political scheming, and of course suitors and balls thus commence.
I would recommend googling a far better description then what I just provided.
Critiques on the islands bizarre political system aside, the book did well to establish pretty robust female characters in the Queens and also several side characters who support each of the Queens. Each Queen had a pretty distinct voice, upbringing, and objectives. The side characters also had interesting subplots and motives for their continued support of the Queens. Other things I liked about the book was the way the author takes you into the story bit by bit and doesn’t just info dump the whole world’s mythology on the reader. That way you can continue to have aspects of the history of the island, the queens, the magic system, and the people peppered in throughout the story, which kept things interesting.
Things you can critique include the ridiculous amount of time and resources that go into number 1 having three babies… My God! to go to all the pain, turmoil, and effort to carry three babies to term and then birth them only to have them try and kill each other in just over a decade would not bode well with me… maybe that’s why the previous Queen buggers off right after birth. Number 2 having prominent families train each of the girls for years only to have it all possibly thrown away after the, at most, year-long attempt of the Queens to murder their brethren. And number 3, playing a guessing game on when this Queen will get preggos with the next set of triplets and then bugger off, leaving large gaps in the leadership of the island. I mean there is a council that runs things in the meantime, but man the time and energy put into this Queen system of governance is too damn high compared with the output of what you get from it.
But when you think of it, I live in a parliamentary democracy so we operate on a 4-year political system that could very well be just as turbulent (ideally without the bloodshed) and there isn’t one single ball. So perhaps this way is better? I think a referendum might be in order.
Anyways, it was good fun and had lots of intrigues and I’ll be reading the rest of the series, hopefully.