When I first began reading the Three Dark Crowns series, I thought it too straightforward and simple. It’s true that the writing is clear-cut and not very elaborate, but the world building is illustrious. However, it lacks any intricate visual cues to truly see it in your minds eye. I had no trouble believing the existence of the wondrous places detailed in the novels, but they needed something extra – something undeniably vivid – to push them over the edge. Despite these shortcomings, Kendare Blake has created interesting and spellbinding characters and story arcs. Blake’s four female heroines are the heart and soul of the four novels in the Three Dark Crowns series. They’re full imagined, stubborn creatures who’s journeys are in flux. I can’t say they’re unusual or unique personalities, but they’re not cliched individuals, either. They differ greatly when any obstacle appears. They may share the courage to fight for what they believe in, but their choices are their own.
The novels are set on the hidden island of Fennbirn. This fascinating creation is the home of mists and magic, where a queen is destined to reign. The island holds many mysteries, including a disturbing past and an even darker future. Katharine, Mirabella, and Arsinoe are sisters in line for the succession. In the end, only one will be crowned, but who will it be?
The story never goes where you expect it to. There’s always a twist waiting for you around the corner. Allegiances are never permanent and lines are certain to be crossed. Sadly, the series fails to step out of the YA box at certain times, killing main characters and participating in queer baiting. It’s frustrating, watching another YA novel fall to these stereotypes. Instead of forsaking these common occurrences, Three Dark Crowns steps right into them, trying not to lean too heavily on their dullness.
I recently finished the fourth and final book in the saga, Five Dark Fates. Honestly, I expected more from this latest installment. It was slow moving, with very little happening until the last few pages. The novel’s final resolution was disappointing to say the least. The characters spent the last three books trying to fight fate, but succumbed to it anyway. It was uninspired, lifeless, and plain. The author’s choice was explained and excused in one sentence. It was terribly unsatisfying.
Although the series has its faults, it’s a compelling, unforgettable fantasy in an overcrowded field of contenders. I enjoyed it immensely, even if my words aren’t that convincing. I loved the characters, their poor choices, and the varied adventures that occurred. Their relationships were messy and complicated, but incredibly endearing. In fact, I couldn’t decide which character I liked more. I grew attached as I watched their legends from my window. Once I started a book, I couldn’t stop. I couldn’t put it down. I had to know what happened. I had to see it through to the end. The Three Dark Crowns saga is a superbly entertaining epic that I will go back to again and again. It’s guaranteed.