The Three Dark Crowns series is a darkly thrilling piece of literature

The Three Dark Crowns series is a darkly thrilling piece of literature

I cry.

A lot.

I cry more than the normal human. Why? Simply because I read beautifully crude pieces of literature that yank the tears from my eyes. The most recent sob-inducing book I couldn’t put down was the third book of the Three Dark Crowns series, Two Dark Reigns, by Kendare Blake.

The mystical island of Fennibirn is home to magically gifted people all vying for political power. The naturalists have a special connection to animals and can help plants bloom. The poisoners have an immunity to poison and have an aptitude for creating poisons. The elementalists can manipulate weather and the elements.

Additionally, two weaker gifts are the gift of war powers and the gift of prophecy. To have a queen of your magical affinity is to gain power and strength. However, the line of succession is never clear, for the line of the queens only bears female triplets. Wild Queen Arsinoe is a naturalist, sweet Queen Katharine is a poisoner, and passionate Queen Mirabella is an elementalist. Separated years after birth, these three sisters will never be friends. At age sixteen, the fight to be the last queen standing begins.

Most books I read are generic enough that I can predict what will happen next. The Three Dark Crowns series was an anomaly. Whenever I thought I figured out where its dark plot was heading next, I was wrong. Every. Single. Time. It gave me that spiraling feeling of dread and anticipation at the same time, which I find to be quite enticing. I was completely and utterly riveted with the twists and turns of this rollercoaster plot.

Another reason I was unable to resist the lovely, if not a little bit malicious, plot was because of Blake’s expert skill of leaving you hanging. Between chapters, the point of view switches between the different queens and occasionally their friends. Blake loved to drop a large realization or stop short in the middle of an important, action-packed moment to end chapters. I couldn’t read fast enough to see what would happen next, even when I felt like I probably breaking some sort of reading speed limit.

Furthermore, Blake always finished each book in the series at a point where walking away doesn’t seem like a viable option. You feel like you needed to get to the next book for some sort of closure on the final events of the book.

The plot also had a very satisfying element of turning chaos into clarity. Each queen has different drama and events taking place, which makes the storyline messy. This messiness helps drive the queens to the climax of the story where everything comes together. Every event has the purpose of driving the queens together and thickening the plot. I love that eye-of-the-hurricane moment that ensues.


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”

— Kendare Blake

I am a sucker for character development, and the Three Dark Crowns series has plenty of it. Looking back at the traits of the characters in the first book versus the third, it is hard not to admire the effort Blake put into their development. Blake used both subtleties and big events to transition the way characters thought or acted. It is evident that Blake knew exactly what she was doing as she poured her words onto the pages.

While romance in this book is technically considered a sub-plot, I would just like to bring attention to the tasteful and complex way it is woven into the main plot. These books have your classic love triangles, as well as couples who are hopelessly devoted to each other. All the emotions of love and related emotions, such as jealousy, are portrayed in a realistic and almost understated way. These books use and show romance in a different way than other dull fantasy books, which really sets this series apart.

As conflicting with the plot as it is, this series does a really great job of showing aspects of platonic love, too. Each queen has a family she has grown up with, which demonstrates that platonic love nicely. Additionally, this series presents how different people show their love. By this, I mean it shows that some people practice tough love because they want the subject of their love to be successful as opposed to others supporting those they love unconditionally.

Lastly, a prominent theme throughout all three books was girl power. Not only is the island ruled by queens and their king-consorts, but the people of the island worship the Goddess. Again and again, Blake provides strong females at the heads of families and in positions of influence. Moreover, Blake doesn’t restrict the way her female characters must dress and act. In fact, she shows the contrast between the freedoms the women of Fennbirn have and the lack thereof the women of the mainland have.

All around, Kendare Blake wrote an amazing series when she wrote Three Dark Crowns. She captured my interest and kept it throughout the entire series, just as I’m positive she will do to you. While the final installment’s title has yet to be released, you can be sure it will land on my “must-read” list as soon as it does.

Perhaps I’ll be able to keep my composure and not cry over fictional stories by then.