It didn’t take long to power through this first in what I assume will be a series of books about three sisters; destined and fated to pit their “gifts” against each in order to claim the throne.
This mystical world of Fennbirn world is ruled by a matriarchy. Every generation the currently reigning queen births triplets, all girls. Each girl is the recipient of one of three principles of magic. The Naturalist, who can tame wild animals and make plants grow. The Elementalist, who control fire and lightening and winds and rains and summon hurricanes. The Poisoner, who can consume copious amounts of any poison and remain unharmed. After birth, the queen departs, never to be seen again and the children are reared together in a home called the black cottage until the age of six. Then, they are separated and sent to live with foster families and train in their respective arts.
At the age of 16 the girls are brought through a traditional hunt, feast and showing of their talents, which marks the beginning of the year long endeavor in which they will all attempt to kill each other. Sounds lovely.
In this generation we follow the stories of the three sisters, Mirabella, Arsinoe and Katherine.
Mirabella is the most gifted. Being an Elementalist, she lives in the city of Rolanth, therefore closely aligning with the island’s goddess worshipping religion and is watched over closely by zealous priestesses. She seems to be the only one who also can recall moments of their childhood together, before they were separated. This will ultimately cause some issues in the story to come no doubt.
Arsinoe by far is the most interesting. In fact, reading through her tales in the book one almost gets the impression that her devoted friend Jules is the main character. Arsinoe is the Naturalist, but her talents have yet to come to her. She appears to have no gift at all, while Jules is one of the strongest Naturalist in generations.
Katharine is the weakest. As a Poisoner, her talents don’t so much lie in her gift it would seem. Although at first I thought that being a poisoner couldn’t possibly be a gift, as poor Katherine has been subjected to poisons throughout her life in order to build her immunity to them. In some ways it has to a degree, but it has also cost her health and sustenance to make her strong. She lives in the most wealthy and powerful family who have been seated in the council and on the throne for several generations now. She is expected to continue that tradition at all costs.
The novel also holds a deep treasure trove of supplemental chracteres, like Jules, Joseph, Pietyr, Natalia and Rho to name a few. All of whom contribute to the overall depth of the story. Overall Three Dark Crowns reminds me of a young adult version of the First Law series by Joe Abercrombie with the fantasy touches of the Night Angel books by Brent weeks. And this first book ends with a barnburner of a revelation!
Looking forward to the second one coming out later this year.