I didn't realize author Kendare Blake's new novel Three Dark Crowns was the first in a trilogy (duology?) when I picked it up. And I'm not sure I'd have read it had I known. As of late, I typically avoid anything that's not a stand-alone for the simple fact that I prefer books that have definite beginnings and definite endings. I'm glad I read it, though. Of course I AM chomping at the bit to find out what happens next (because what a cliffhanger!!), but there's no denying that this book was amazing!
Three Dark Crowns is The Hunger Games meets The Selection meets The Parent Trap...with some serious Awesome mixed in. It centers around royal triplets Katehrine, Arsinoe, and Maribella, each supposedly born with a special magical power. The girls have been raised separately, and for good reason. Upon their sixteenth birthday, they must battle each other (as in fight to the death) for the Crown. This has been how the people of Finnbirn have chosen their ruler since the dawn of time.
But this year's battle is different: Katherine, a Poisoner, and Arsione, a Naturalist, have yet to come into their powers. Katherine cannot endure even the most mild of poisons without becoming violently ill. And Arsinoe couldn't even grow a dandelion in the height of summer. The only sister with any real power is Maribella, and she is the strongest Elemental anyone has seen in generations. Of course Maribella is the obvious choice. Anyone can see that.
There's a twist! (isn't there always?) But I won't spoil it here, even though you may guess just from reading this review.
Three Dark Crowns is a fantastic start to this story arc, and I highly recommend you read it before Hollywood acquires the rights and does it's (accidental?) best to ruin yet another amazing YA book. --AJB