Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake...

Publish date- October 1st, 2016.
Publisher- Macmillan.
RRP- $16.99 (AUD)

(A Brief) Synopsis:
Three sisters are brought up together until they are six. Then they are separated-
-one to live with the naturalists, people who have a magical talent at growing plants, understanding nature, who all have a familiar that lives by their side always
-one to live with the poisoners, people who add fatal plants and creatures to their food and relish it, who will teach their queen, over years, how to live despite the odds
-one to the elementals, people who can control the weather and move fire and water with the slightest gesture
With their new families, they train until they are sixteen. And then it is time to fight for the throne.

Thank you to Macmillan AU for this review ARC.

What I thought:
I expected quite a variety of things from Three Dark Crowns, and that variety altered as I read (and began to realise I wasn't in for quite what I had been hoping); it's pitched as, essentially, a story of three sisters who must fight for the chance to rule. Two will die at the hands of their siblings, and the last one standing will have won a bloody crown. There's such a darkness, such an intense and perceptible brutality, and I did expect that to be very much present- to be the guiding point of the book, really- only, it didn't. And that really, really frustrated me.

I can fairly well split my reading experience into three distinct parts:
The Beginning- wherein I was mightily intrigued and quite enjoyed everything, and the potential that lay ahead
The Middle- wherein I took a break, got back into the story, met with quite a few disappointments and for some reason read faster than ever
The End- wherein I became slightly invested and was simultaneously annoyed that this was clearly part of a series (which I didn't know until about halfway through) and wasn't going to even begin to wrap up

Each part had its fair share of good and unhappy plot points, some were much more enjoyable than others, and some read a lot more smoothly than others. I got to know all the characters well, from Arisnoe, the Naturalist who isn't able to bring forth her gift; Mirabella, the sister almost everyone expects to become Queen, for her power is unrivalled; to Katherine, who is weak rather than strong when she takes poison, and who unexpectedly blossomed; I had rather expected to prefer one sister over the others, and yet they all had their good moments and bad. They all had their strength, although Katherine and Arisnoe both doubt in theirs, and they were all distinct. I enjoyed each POV, none more than any other, but I never grew overly fond of any one of the sisters. I wasn't attached at all, not to a single character, and that definitely affected how much I enjoyed the novel.

There was a fair amount of romance in this book, something I hadn't really thought to expect, and almost all of it left me unsatisfied. Every character either falls for a guy, or has their romance set up for the rest of the series, and with two out of three of the girls I didn't feel it was necessary or really added to the plot at all. Additionally, I didn't really like- and certainly didn't love- any of the couplings.
Having all these romantic sub-plots also left me unhappy for another reason, because there was real chemistry between Arisnoe and Jules (the girl who is her sort of protector and also bestie)! SO MUCH CHEMISTRY. From a few chapters in I was eagerly awaiting their finally realising their feelings for each other, because these two meant the world to each other, and they showed it. I think they even said it, at least once. There was the yet more chemistry with Mirabella and Elizabeth, a priestess whom she befriends; they meet and have this instant connection, Mirabella become open and caring (which we hadn't really seen before) and we see her in a new light. And then, with no lead up at all, a guy is thrown in and all that is gone.

This is, unfortunately, another first-in-a-series where I'm happy to stop at the beginning. I can see where the next books will take this series, but I'd much have preferred it to be a standalone, for things to wrap up and not only just start at the end of this one, and I don't really have the investment to read three books to see how everything pans out.

Trigger Warnings: Physical abuse/manipulation; self harm (for the purpose of a spell and not to injure, yet depicted multiple times); animal cruelty/intentional deaths.
Please note tha these Trigger Warnings aren't extensive. From now, however, on I will be taking active note for all books I review here- these were two that stood out as I was finishing the book.

Rating: Hmm/Poor.
There was so much I wanted from this, and I didn't really get much of what I had hoped for/expected at all. It was still an enjoyable read, for the most part, but I found myself unsatisfied when it came to what I had thought I was going into.