A promising start to the Three Dark Crowns series and a new author for me to try


Three Dark Crowns
 (Three Dark Crowns #1) by Kendare Blake
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

With the recent release of the second book in this series I decided that I really needed to get myself organised and delve into Three Dark Crowns before I started hearing too many spoilers about the series online. I haven’t read any books by Kendare Blake before but reviews about Three Dark Crowns seem to be generally good and the plot sounded really intriguing so I was happy to give it a go.

This is a dark, fairytale in atmosphere story about 3 sisters, triplets, who are born Queens then separated and fostered to different homes based on their special talent. When they turn 16 they will each have the chance to fight for the throne, whoever wins will reign until their own triplets are born. The two losers will be killed at the hand of the victor.

The first chapters of the book are quite lengthy as we are introduced to each of the triplets in turn. Firstly we meet Queen Katherine, a poisoner, who is able to withstand any venom and can create deadly potions of her own. We meet the people raising her after 3 generations of poisoner Queens they have grown powerful and will do anything to put a 4th poisoner Queen on the throne. Katherine is not as strong as she looks though and is struggling to survive the demands placed upon her.

We then meet naturalist Queen Arisone, wild and carefree she has grown up surrounded by friends who have protected her and now she turns 16 she needs to face up to the fact that her gifts have not arrived as yet, she should be able to make flowers grow and fields bloom and animals do her bidding but she cannot and soon everyone will learn the truth.

Finally, we meet Queen Mirabella, the Elementalist who can command the elements, the wind, fire, water and the earth. Mirabella is strong and word has spread of her strength. The priestesses of the temples have led her tuition and they will stop at nothing to oust the poisoners from the throne and see the true Queen ascend to her rightful place, even if they need to rig the outcome.

This book was wonderful, it is full of really great characters in the lives of each of the Queens who we come to love. Particularly wonderful is the world of Arisone and her best friend Jules, the strongest naturalist in the community who will do anything to protect her friend and help her to become the new Queen. The characters in the story are really well crafted and it is so easy to become invested in them all and they are all quite distinct so although there are lots of them across each of the three queens courts you don’t get confused.

I really enjoyed the atmosphere in the book, the question of whether the sisters will come to fulfil the prophecy and kill each other or who is the rightful queen. The book asks you to question which one is your favourite but as the book goes on you find each girl has her own attributes that would make her a good Queen but if I had to say which one I was rooting for secretly I’d have to say Arisone but then the cliff-hanger at the end of this book was wonderful and left me quite shocked and desperate to see how this will progress as we move into book 2. It helped to make sense of some of the story in Three Dark Crowns but sets up wonderfully for us to continue the story.

I loved my first experience of Kendare Blake’s writing, I really enjoyed the style in which the book was written. The narrative was exicting and the plot moved along nicely with plenty of action without skimping on the relationships within. I would highly recommend this book and I know I won’t be able to hold off long before picking up the sequel, One Dark Throne.

A fulfilling conclusion to Ahdieh’s Arabian adventure in The Rose & The Dagger

The Rose & the Dagger (The Wrath & The Dawn #2) by Renee Ahdieh
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This year I’ve tried hard to really focus on completing series when I’ve started them. I’ve so far managed to blitz through around 6 sets this year and I was keen to complete The Wrath & The Dawn duology by Renee Ahdieh as well. Having really enjoyed the first book I was really keen to see how they would continue the wonderful Arabian story in The Rose & The Dagger.

The second book picks up very quickly after the end of The Wrath & The Dawn with Khalid trying to rebuild his broken city of Rey and Shazi having been taken to safety by Tariq to a settlement in the desert where she has been reunited with her sister and father. Tariq is still working with his uncle and the head of the desert tribes to try and overthrow Shazi’s husband who is still greatly misunderstood for killing his brides each night after their weddings. Shazi has been the only one to survive and Tariq is disappointed that his true love has fallen in love with another.

I found the first 100 pages of this book a little slow to get going, the chapters would flit between Khalid and Shaharzad and we really miss them being together and the sparks that would fly when they were. The initial chapters though are forgotten once the action does get going. We have so much going on, lots of new characters and romances and relationships and some really jaw-dropping OMG moments that keep you glued. Once the action was underway I flew through the last chapters, scared to take my eyes off the page in case I missed anything. There is magic, betrayal, true love, grief and loss and it makes for a wonderful end to this duology.

Again the atmosphere of the world Ahdieh builds jumps off the page in spades. Whilst there are lots of unfamiliar words for the different clothes, weapons and cultural references to the Arabian world in which this book is set it doesn’t detract from the enjoyment. Instead, it brings a really exotic flavour and a world in which I could spend all day.

I couldn’t recommend this book, or the duology as a whole any higher. It’s been a really fun journey and because these books have quite a different setting I have a feeling they will linger with me for some time to come.