Three Dark Crowns is a book I knew I needed to read because the premise- I mean, come on three sisters vying for a crown- what's not to like? The three are raised apart and trained from an early age to kill the others. How twisted is that? I mean the premise had me right there and the enthusiastic reviews of bloggers I trust sealed the deal. So I went into this with high expectations and it mostly delivered.
The three sisters are Katherine (poisoner), Arsinoe (naturalist) and Mirabella (elemental). Each one has their unique abilities- for example Katherine as a poisoner is immune to poisons, or is supposed to be- and they each have factions or noble families backing them. The poisoners have been in power for a hundred years but things look grim as Katherine is not showing much aptitude. She crafts poisons just fine, but her unique ability to withstand poison doesn't seem to be there. Her backers therefore have to take steps t improve her chances.
Arsinow has a similar problem as her talent has also not manifested, whereas Mirabella is strong and favored to win. Again each girl has a faction and as the story progresses we get insights into not only the girls but the forces behind them, and let's just say there are moments when they are not all in sync. The characterizations are strong here and each girl has a distinct personality- I was looking to pick a candidate- and to the authors credit I had a hard time. I liked all three of them in different ways. And the supporting cast for the most part were spot on as well.
This is one of those books where the underpinning of the world is not completely understood. It's not clear what the relationship of the island they call home is with the mainland- the island seems to be a land apart? This is never really explained, and there are a lot of little hints about the nature of the place, but not enough answers.I went through this book thinking it was a standalone, so as the end approached and there were lots of loose ends I was not sure there would be a resolution. Sure enough there is another one coming later this year.
I do feel some of the events towards the end were contrived a bit in order to set up future conflicts. And I found the end to be somewhat anti- climactic, after all the buildup- some of that may be due to my expecting a standalone- but still I was not entirely satisfied with the end. And while the beginning sucked me right in there are a lot of characters so in the early going I was a little confused. But other than that this was a fast paced and fun read and I enjoyed the scheming .