I currently face a terrible challenge: finding things to read when I don't have access to a library! As I write this blog post, I sit in my Air BnB in the Poconos having moved to Pennsylvania from California. I hope to be in a more permanent address in a month or so but currently, I don't have an address to give the librarian for a library card. Thus, I am stuck reading the books I brought with me whether they are what I am in the mood for or not.
That means I am slightly more prone to buying books I don't need.
This series might have been one of those cases.
In fairness to myself, when I began the Three Dark Crowns series, I was under the impression it was only two books long. I don't know what gave me this impression now that I look back but nevertheless, this is what I believed. I was captured by the idea behind the series. Three Dark Crowns is set on an island ruled by a single queen backed by a council she sets. The queen rules until she becomes pregnant with triplets (it is magically triplets every time the queen is pregnant). She then has the babies and leaves the island. The council rules in her stead until the sisters reach age sixteen. They then kill each other off with their powers (there are five possible powers) until the surviving triplet rules. The book tells the story of one such set of triplets.
I was intrigued enough by the premise of the books to make it my final read from the Shasta library. I had placed the books on hold and had the first two books in the series. We sent our three dogs across the country with a family friend in our car so the night before the car left, I finished the books and dropped them back at the library.
Only to read a line I didn't expect:
"The Fennbirn sisters will return."
Crap, I thought to myself. There are more books. I researched it online only to find that there were, in fact, two more books. In the end, I bought them both and had three days in an empty house without a book I wanted to read (I had books but I couldn't find any interest in them while I was halfway through an excellent series).
In all seriousness, this series was amazing. It was just morbid enough to be intriguing without crossing the line. It wasn't a horror story. It never creeped me out. Rather, I enjoyed reading about three sisters who had been taught they should hate each other slowly learn to love the others. The series was magical and fascinating and captured my attention the whole way through.
The POV wasn't my absolute favorite. The narrator is omniscient but does focus on a singular character at a time for the most part. An example of a sentence you might find in the book would be the following:
"Katherine stands on the pedestal with arms at her sides."
Usually, this kind of POV would put me off a book altogether but I was intrigued enough by the premise to push through a few chapters and I quickly found that I loved the characters and plot and the POV, while initially annoying, stopped bothering me after a while. I would have preferred the series to have been written in a different POV but I did find that this one did not take away from the books as much as I might have expected it to.
One thing I felt added to the books as a whole was the powers that the author gave her characters. Blake masterfully crafted the powers so that they could be both limited and powerful as needed. Her five powers are as follows:
Poisoner - Has the ability to ingest (or otherwise come across) poison and not be affected. Has an intuitive knowledge of poisons and potions and the ability to craft their own poisons and healing potions. Strong poisoners can heal themselves and others.
Elemental - Has control over one or more of the following: wind, water, fire, earth, and storms. Doesn't feel cold or warm temperatures.
Naturalist - Can ripen fruit and other crops prematurely or blossom flowers. Can call together animals (for example, when hunting). Has an animal called a familiar tied to them.
Warrior - More powerful and lithe in war. Stronger warriors have telekinesis, particularly over weapons. Warriors are less common than the first three.
Oracles - Queens with the oracle gift are killed at birth and as a result, it is a super rare gift. It is a self-explanatory gift.
The author chooses powers that are relatively easy to increase and decrease as need be. For example, she describes most elementals controlling just one element though some control more. She structures her magic system in both a way that explains itself to the readers clearly and creates clear laws while also remaining mysterious.
Plus, the naturalists have fun animals! Some of the best characters are the animal sidekicks that Blake writes into the books including the mountain cat, Camden, the bear Braddock, and the chickens. None of the animals speak but the author writes well enough that they do not need to for the reader to fall in love with them.
The Three Dark Crowns series is definitely one to check out for anyone who loves something mysterious with just a hint of morbidity and for those who love a good family love story.