Book review: “Three Dark Crowns”

Natalie Brink, News Editor

If you like gritty political intrigue, characters with complex motivations, family rivalries that turn deadly or good books in general, stay far, far away for Kendare Blake’s debut novel Three Dark Crowns.

This novel is a prime example of how a great story premise can make a terrible story. The novel is about triplets with gifts of magic fighting for the throne of their island country. The catch? A sister can only become queen if the other two sisters are dead. The battle to the death begins the night of their sixteenth birthday. The island itself is split into different city states controlled by families who each champion a different sister. The setup is perfect. Blake fumbles anyway.

On the back of the book the author of the Lunar Chronicles Marissa Meyer promises Three Dark Crowns is “brutal and inventive.” Unfortunately for the readers the book is neither. For a good majority of the book, we follow the sisters residing in their respective cities doing nothing more than their daily routines. Occasionally one of them frets about how to best kill her sisters, but the reader has to wait until the last 26 pages of the 398 page book before anything that could be remotely described as “brutal” happens. Trust me when I say that the rushed climax is not worth the wait.

In the meantime Blake stuffs the pages of the book with meaningless filler that neither progresses the story nor develops any characters. It reads more like a thoughtless soap opera with characters cheating, lounging and scheming without anything coming of it. There is simply nothing “inventive” about three reluctant, teenaged queens who are paraded around by the evil bureaucratic adults. Three Dark Crown’s worst crime is not that it is bad or that all the characters are one-dimensional and scream-worthy. Its worst crime is that it is excruciatingly boring and predictable.

This book is a time waster of the highest order. You will not learn anything other than your own limits for boredom. If you are thirsting for complex characters and competent writing read Leigh Bardugo’s Six of Crows instead.