I hesitated to read Laini Taylor’s novels for a long time as I sniffed out the rumor of a slow-paced discography. Something compelled to keep her work around. Thus, when the courage pooled around my head, I grabbed Daughter of Smoke and Bone, expecting nothing. Let me tell you about my favorite book of the year thus far.
Karou is an odd girl. Naturally blue hair, hamsas in her palms, and a father figure who trades with teeth. She has no parents, no family, and she draws surreal creatures that she claims to know on a one-on-one basis.
When her portal to a world of magic is sealed, and a mysterious figure follows her, she comes to face her identity, roots, and her connection to the mysterious Akiva.
Book Review-Character Love
Laini Taylor writes Prague such fond tenderness. I could almost taste the pastries Karou and Zuzana eat. The lively streets, the colorful costumes, the tourists wandering, the hushed tones of Karou’s mysterious life urging me to keep on reading. It was delightfully surprising to finish the book in two days.
First, let’s talk about Karou, who, even with all the secrets she keeps, she maintains a softness and purity that led to my completely unwavering loyalty toward her. She gets hurt and uses wishes for revenge. Her manner of responding to cruelty is never exceedingly vicious. I mean, her ex-boyfriend got an itch while posing for a nude portrait. But, as the story unfolds, it becomes abundantly clear that this jerk hurt her in a way much more likely to leave a scar.
Akiva is still a mystery. I know the word is overused in this review but it’s from lack of information on him, truly. I like his quiet strength, the way his past haunts him, his isolation.
It’s amazing to contrast Akiva/Karou with Zuzana/ Mic. Zuzana, the fierce and tiny friend of Karou’s, left my heart aflutter. Seriously. She and Mic were so cute and I hope to see more of them in later books because they have a nectar-sweet presence that I find myself missing often.
This book was a delightful experience and I cannot wait to read more Laini Taylor books. She writes with such elegance and depth. Her characters are tangible yet somehow otherworldly. I loved Daughter of Smoke and Bone.
After reading the Raven Cycle, Maggie Stiefvater became one of the most interesting authors on my shelves. Many years ago, I had gathered the first books by her that I had heard of: The Wolves of Mercy Falls trilogy. Beginning with Shiver, this trilogy follows werewolves and a girl who is fascinated by them. Unlike the Raven Cycle, this trilogy involves plenty of kissing. Here is my review of the book.
Shiver and warm characters
One of the most surprising things that Maggie Stiefvater accomplishes in this first book is that she creates warm characters. Most books centered around mythological creatures tend to be bloated with world building. I like that this book focuses more on relationships.
There is a sense of urgency to Sam and Grace’s relationship. It colors the relationship with a desperate and hungry tone. When they spend time together, it is domestic at best but they are both drinking in each other’s features, personalities, and quirks. It warmed my heart to see such a love story. To an extent, this ache reminded me of Gansey and Blue in the sense that there are forces beyond the characters, driving them apart.
But, the pack itself was messy and charming, just like a family. I did not expect this either because The Raven Boys had a smaller friend group, and it was not even a set group (new members introduced toward the end of the book series). The complicated dynamics between members of the pack made things even more interesting and realistic. It grounded the story.
The Lone Wolf
I was actually surprised by who is actually the lone wolf. It’s Grace! She is invested in these wolves so much that it often alienates her. Her friendships are rocky and so are her connections to family. This makes her relationship with Sam more intense, more desperate and crucial.
But, of course, the other lone wolf in this is Jack Culpeper. His sister surprised me with her curiosity and cleverness. It is rare in books when so many people are in “the know” about the supernatural creatures in the story. Often, I tried to push myself to empathize with Jack, even though he made a mess in terms of plot. I look forward to his development as a character (and as a wolf).
With each chapter, the temperature drops and it raises the stakes of this love story. It becomes very clear that Sam is not the Jacob Black of Maggie Stiefvater’s writing. He is sensitive and frank, a pacifist and an artist. In other words, he is our pure cinnamon roll and he must be protected.
Shiver Rating and Final Thoughts
Overall, this was a nice and quick read. It was moving and sweet, but it also lacked depth in terms of character development and conflict. Perhaps this will change in later books. I will say that Stiefvater gets points for creating male characters that do not adhere to strands of toxic masculinity. So, that’s nice to see.
Yesterday, I finished reading the sequel to An Ember in the Ashes, which is called A Torch Against the Night by the wonderful Sabaa Tahir. In this book, we follow the journey of Elias, Laia, and Helene as the Empire continues to enslave Scholars. Here are my thoughts wrapped into a review. Let me share my excitement with you.
A Torch Against the night’s beauty: Helene, my heart’s queen
“But you are not finished. You are my masterpiece, Helene Aquilla, but I have just begun. If you survive, you shall be a force to be reckoned with in this world. But first you will be unmade. First, you will be broken.”
The most incredible aspect of this novel is not only the pacing but also the inclusion of Helene’s point of view. I think it was such a privilege to read more from Helene’s perspective. In a way, she and Elias mirror each other’s struggle between tradition and change.
A Torch Against the Night is essentially the unfolding of a much more complex plot than I ever could have imagined. Through Elias’ best friend, we get to the internal functions of the Empire. We also experience a new Emperor (Marcus) and his interactions with the Commandant.
Helene is also pressured to find and destroy her best friend, which is something Elias refused to follow through with. But, with her, I felt that she was even more torn. Her family is known for their loyalty. But, the question is: to whom should she be loyal to? The Empire or Elias?
A torch against the night’s beauty 2: A World built further
What is truly wonderful about this book is how the world is further developed. We experience the tension between the tribes, the treatment of Scholar children, slaves’ relationship with the Commandant.
But, it is also a neat development of the characters. The way they connect with other characters is conveyed in such a compelling manner. I think of Laia and Darin, in particular. Helene and her sisters are other manifestations of relationships’ complexity within this world. It’s like people are under so much oppression and cruelty. They end up making choices that are not ideal.
And, I think this is the most surprising aspect of A Torch Against the Night: no one has the privilege of choosing what they truly want. The introduction of Marcus’ treatment by the elders of the Empire wrinkled the story further. It was not like Marcus won and was immediately welcomed into the role of emperor. No, he has to live with the loss of his brother while trying to gain the respect of the Empire.
The Commandant and the Cook
My favorite people in this story are the ones I do not know enough about so far: The Commandant and the Cook. I would love to read more about Cook. What is her backstory? How was she taken prisoner? What did she do to annoy the Commandant so much?
Besides, I want to know more about her link to Laia. Why is she so protective of her?
Cook gives Helene such a difficult time, and I was just living for that protectiveness. It’s nice to see women play powerful roles in this world.
Now, the Commandant and Elias’ battle (the literal one and the longer, more indirect one) was surprising. I was so shocked by how she alters his fate. Still, I remain hopeful for her development. She needs to have more scenes revealing her inner turmoil. Sabaa Tahir includes glimpses of the Commandant’s fury. But, I want more details.
Keenan: Called it.
I never liked this dude. It was kind of clear that he is shady as heck. That’s all I am going to say.
I gave A Torch Against the Night a five-star rating. It was a quick and engaging read. Please check out this series for a brilliant time.
I read Sabaa Tahir’s An Ember in the Ashes over the course of two days last week. It was easily one of my favorite reads this year. A review, thoughts, and rambles on An Ember in the Ashes, is in order.
The premise of An Ember in the Ashes
Sabaa Tahir creates a universe inspired by the Roman empire in An Ember in the Ashes. In a cruel world with militaristic tones, Elias and Laia live. Laia is a Scholar with ties to the rebellion. Elias is in training to be a Mask within the Martial Empire. His mother is the Commandant. He and his best friend Helene are preparing for their big tests.
Laia’s brother is arrested for treason, and it leads Laia into the very core of the rebellion. Sent on a doomed mission into the Commandant’s “home,” Laia attempts to spy on the Commandant through her role as a slave.
But, when she and Elias meet, sparks fly. He, a soldier, and her a slave to an Empire unwilling to incorporate the Scholars into their society. Also: efrits, jinns, and other scary things roam the Empire.
What I liked
Let me preface this by saying that I loved An Ember in the Ashes as a whole. I gave it 4.5-5 stars because it was a quick, engaging, and addictive reading experience. So, here are some of my favorite things in this story.
First, Helene, my queen, pretty much stole my heart from page 1. She’s like the Captain Phasma of these books, but on a conflicted one for sure. I enjoyed her dynamic with Elias, and how it clashed with other Masks in training with them.
Elias’ inner turmoil also translated nicely onto the page. He clearly is very much a reaction to his mother’s nature. And, I think he communicates the frustration with the system beautifully.
While Laia’s storyline was sometimes painful because of all the torture she endures, I did like her persistence and her connection to her brother. She does get “visions” that are unexplained (or at least, still unclear to me). The beauty of her storyline is also in the irony of finding trust in the least likely spaces.
What I did not like
There were some irksome things in this book, I have to admit. First, I did not really buy the attraction/connection between Laia and Elias. It has happened way too fast. Then again, I do recognize that sometimes very sudden connections happen. Elias was already on the edge of renouncing his connection to the Empire. But, I do find it odd that he was willing to give it all up for someone he did not know very well.
Moreover, I think An Ember in the Ashes would have benefited from some additional points of view. For instance, I wanted more Helene’s point of view (something that is remedied in the sequel, from what I have noticed so far). Another point of view I craved was the Commandant’s own perspective. I am all for villains being mean and all that, but I also want to know why they function that way. What is their motivation? What drives them to be cruel and heartless?
Besides, the Commandant’s birth of Elias is kind of unorthodox. I want more of the undertones of such an origin and how it influences their relationship.
Finally, I also want to see more Scholars. What makes them subservient to the Empire? What is the history of their conflict? Stuff like that could really clear up the tensions between these two groups.
Overall, though, this book was wonderful. I am working on reading the second one in the series. Cannot wait to see more Elias, Helene, and Laia.
I am going to share with you my experience of reading One Dark Throne by Kendare Blakehere. Naturally, spoilers will arise. While I avoid naming specific characters, I advise you to read with caution. Okay. When I read Three Dark Crowns, I remembered how much I enjoyed Kendare Blake’s writing. Upon seeing the sequel in the library, I snagged it in the hopes of getting a nice conclusion to what I thought was a duology. Granted, Kendare Blake’s writing is still effortless, I did find this reading experience to be quite a mixed bag. Let’s talk about One Dark Throne.
the mad sister Nearing the One Dark Throne
At the end of the first book, one of the sisters is essentially betrayed by her lover. In One Dark Throne, she functions as a rogue queen. Sometimes, she was terrifying and great. However, I do have a problem with characters being “evil” for the sake of needing a villain.
There is a sense of mystery to this second novel. One Dark Throne keeps hinting that something is wrong with one of the sisters. Everyone suspects it. Yet, there are very few clues as to what is, in fact, her motivation to behave the way she does.
Betrayals to get to the dark throne
Kendare Blake does something beautiful within the story: betrayals. I think this is the most shocking aspect of One Dark Throne. Political, familial, romantic, and even friendship levels of betrayals and wrongdoings shape the trajectory of a given character.
I am mostly baffled by the lovers-suitors-queens dynamics. There are many characters in that regard and I struggle to remember who was truly liked by a queen.
Plus, I am unsure about the characters who have powers. Are they supposed to be helping their queens? The fun for me is having unskilled queens duke it out. Sure, I like Jules fine. But, she tends to distract from Arsinoe’s storyline.
Three Dark Crowns featured a bit of a slower pace than what I am used to. Kendare Blake was establishing characters and including political layers to this story. Three queens have to go head-to-head and whoever survives becomes ruler of the land.
But, in this one, there was still the slow pace once more. Kendare Blake punctuates the plot by assassination attempts and duels. The sisters spend most of their time apart, again, and I found myself wishing Blake would include enough tension between them.
From what I have heard, this series was initially a duology. This is definitely something I assumed from reading the first book. One Dark Throne could have easily concluded the conflict.
One Dark Throne by Kendare Blake maintains an interesting tale that is somewhat overstretched. It was definitely a mixed bag. The reading experience of this second book had highs and lows. For one thing, the characters develop quite a bit. But, the pacing threw me off. It is definitely a step above the first book.
It is definitely within the 3.5 to the 4-star range for me. While I mostly enjoyed Kendare Blake’s progression of the plot in this one, I felt like One Dark Throne lagged a bit.
In my early days of reading for pleasure regularly, I was mostly relying on one genre. This genre is, and will probably always be, my safe place. It is urban fantasy. For Top 5 Wednesday this week, the topic is to share our top 5 urban fantasy novels. I am very excited to talk about these books.
5. City of Bones by Cassandra clare
I had read some of Clare’s fan fiction in my early college days. She makes me laugh. Many people do this thing where they list every rumor about an author, every damning coincidence, or every mistake they ever made. When it comes to Cassie Clare, there’s a lot of stigma. Her work is somehow belittled because, oh, it has things in common with other work. It deterred me from reading her stuff for a long time.
However, when I did start reading her books, I was inspired and comforted. It still doesn’t sound like anything I’d ever read. It’s funny, because when I was working on my thesis, it became very clear how derivative literature can be. That’s the fun part. Anyway, this book brings me so much joy.
4. Percy Jackson and the Lightning thief by rick riordan
When I read this book, I was early in my graduate school days. I remember getting it from the library, and simply not knowing how awesome it was going to be. This series is often mocked, too, as you’ll notice a common thread within my post. It got so bad with people calling it “childish” and “unoriginal.”
To me, this series created such a fun and humorous series of adventures, cool characters, wonderful relationships. All of these things were established with the backdrop of rich mythology incorporated into the average daily life.
3. The Spiderwick Chronicles: The Field Guide by Holly Black and Tony DiTerlizi
Another quite rich world presented with a balance between adventure and normalcy. Three siblings go on a quest that is so breathtaking in its richness. I find myself thinking of this series often, particularly how it flows into another trilogy afterwards. With that said, I think the cool feature of this series is how it is accessible to younger readers while not being patronizing to older ones at the same time.
2. The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater
This novel flirts with magical realism, and it makes me happy. To me, one of the features of urban fantasy involves younger characters going on quests despite their age and stature in society. We have Adam Parrish in these books, a poor boy from an abusive family, and he is given so much power and agency. It really is empowering to readers, I find. Same with Ronan Lynch.
But, even more beautiful is the commentary on strength in its varying forms. Sometimes, you don’t really do much to be powerful. Look at Blue Sargent’s abilities, her lineage, personality. Perfection.
1. Soulless by gail carriger
Steampunk is hit or miss for me so far. In this story, the main character is witty, with a seemingly normal appearance. Many side characters claim that she is not a conventional beauty due to heritage. And, she is soulless-all powers of the supernatural do not work on her. Romance, intrigue, mystery are all rolled into one delightful candy-like novel.
I’m back with another entry for the epic Top 10 Tuesday meme, which is now run by Artsy Reader Girl. Every week, we get a topic for us to list books we find suit the prompt (on a Tuesday). Today, I am bringing it back to the feel-good books that I could reread forever.
10. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
This the only Austen I have read. I could use a reread right now, honestly, because I have read it over ten years ago. Jane and Elizabeth have such a wonderful bond. They are sisterhood and friendship goals. Having a young feminist figure like Elizabeth in this book warms my heart. She is critical of her society while maintaining a timeless charm. Her story with Mr. Darcy is forever dear to me, because it is ultimately a commentary on social interactions and the misgivings of first impressions.
9. The Great Gatsby by F.Scott Fitzgerald
Jolien hates this book, but, to me, it speaks to my longing for the past. It reminds me of my tendencies to romanticize people, collapsing them into stereotypes as I love the idea of them rather than their actual personalities. Gatsby, with his longing to fulfill the American Dream, offered a flaw in a system I once thought was perfect. The nouveau-riche plight for acceptance among the aristocratic class hit home for me. Plus, how can I ever not love Nick and Daisy. My beautiful Daisy, so frail and bitter. Perfection.
8. Always and Forever, Lara Jean by jenny Han
I remember feeling ashamed for liking the first two books of this series. People said Lara Jean was childish. To me, she appeared to be inexperienced with relationships. That did not make her unappealing. Instead, her journey to finding her place in the world, particularly in the final book, created a lovely narrative not entirely reliant on romance. I like the familial tones in this trilogy. Lara Jean is someone I aspire to become. The baking, the pastel colors, the crafting, all of it is endearing and heartwarming. I could never get sick of rereading her story. She is so dear to me.
7. Vampire Academy by richelle mead
You thought this post was going to be all classics and romantic books, didn’t you? I love this series by Richelle Mead because of the central friendship between Rose Hathaway and Lissa Dragomir. I love their bond’s strength despite their differences in personality, ability, and stature. There are varying kinds of greatness and success in this world. Mead is careful not to generalize features of strength. You can be sensitive and powerful. Or, you can be like Rose and kick literal butt all day.
6. Rebel Belle by Rachel Hawkins
I actually love this author’s work in general. From what I have read of Hex Hall, Hawkins seems to have always had humor incorporated into her narratives. She includes interesting characters and places them in a seemingly normal world that is punctuated with notes of the supernatural or paranormal. It’s genius, because her writing is both amusing, engaging, but not exhausting with its fantastical elements. Rebel Belle certainly manifests all these features of Hawkins’ writing.
5. gemina by amie kaufman and jay kristoff
Listen, this series is a ton of fun. The kick-butt main characters and their equally capable love interests, the rather negative artificial intelligence in the series called AIDAN, are memorable and oh so charming. It is hard not to whiz through these books. Gemina in particular was a step up from Illuminae, which was already awesome in and of itself.
4. iron king by julie kagawa
I remember nothing about this series, except that it was a fun time if I don’t think of other people’s perceptions of me. It’s a story about faeries and changelings. Definitely, it is back on my shelves in time for a reread. I was going to give it away but decided against it.
3. Beautiful creatures by kami garcia and margaret stohl
This series is dark and charming with a nice lore for witches. It has lifetimes and reincarnations, a fantastic love story, and wickedly complex characters. The authors do such a wonderful job including a male protagonist who is unlike the typical men in young adult literature, especially paranormal or urban fantasy stories.
2. Hush, Hush by Becca fitzpatrick
I already repurchased the first two books of this series, because I cannot stop thinking about Patch and Nora. They are so sweet, and they endure such miserable circumstances. Besides, the best friend in this series is awesome. What is her name? Vee or Vi? Something like that. I can’t believe I remember her. It’s been a while. I cannot express just how excited I am to reread this series.
1. Twilight by stephenie meyer
Another series I am repurchasing. The first two books are on my shelves, ready to be enjoyed. Bella and Edward’s connection coupled with all the odds against them made for one hell of a story. Alice Cullen, Rosalie, Jacob Black, all of them are characters I think of often. I cannot wait to revisit these books this year and in the years to come.
Do we share any books in common? What are your favorite books to reread? Are you rereading any of them in certain seasons or moods? Tell me all about it in the comments.
Happy Valentine’s Day, peeps! This week, we will continue with the love theme on our Top 5 Wednesday. I am going to be listing my top 5 women who love women books that I have read. My big warning here is that a) there may be spoilers ahead.
5. A Great and Terrible Beauty by libba bray
I read this book ages ago, and so I don’t recall the details or character names, which is good. This means I cannot spoil the story. All I will say is that there’s a queer couple in the story. Unfortunately, it was revealed as a spoiler, but I’d say the author respected the characters and wrote them beautifully still.
4. Dreadnought by april daniels
I just wanted to include my favorite trans girl (so far. I am working on including more diversity in my reads). This book angered me quite a bit, because I connected with the main character on an emotional level. We may be quite differently placed on the LGBT+ spectrum, however, I empathized with her struggles to be taken seriously.*
*I read the first book from the library and did not get to the next one yet.
3. Born wicked by jessica spotswood
I have not read the final book in this trilogy yet, so I remain unaware of what will happen to the queer couple in the story. However, reading about them broke my heart. Yet, I remain passionate about them and my hope for their happy ending continues to live on. Furthermore, I enjoy this character’s family acceptance of her feelings towards this person. (Goodness, being spoiler-free is so hard). This is particularly a fresh image to be portrayed within the rather stifling setting.
2. The Upside of Unrequited by becky albertali
There are two queer couples in this story, and they are both wlw. I love the familial love in the main character’s life. It warms my heart to see happy families depicted in novels, particularly novels featuring queen characters.
1. Wild Beauty by Anna-Marie McLemore
Featuring queer Latina girls attracted to the one and only Bay Bryar, this book is magic. McLemore is one of my absolute favorites. She writes with sensitivity and doting love toward her characters, her imagery, her themes, her plot. She honors her characters by offering a complex presentation of their lives. She writes so beautifully. This novel, being her latest, is my favorite one yet.
Top 10 Tuesday is now hosted by the lovely The Artsy Reader Girl. It is essentially a weekly topic meant to spark discussion, lists, and excited chats about books. This week is a freebie, but I decided to copy our host. A list of love-related quotes is in order. Let’s go.
10. p.s. i still love you by jenny han–“So much of love is chance. There’s something scary and wonderful about that.”
While I have never fallen in love romantically, I do like this idea of chance in any relationship. I have always been far too anxious to keep any relationship around for long. This quote reminds me of the very scary nature of friendship so much, it validates my pain. To me, I am still kind of in awe of those who have been friends for years, decades, lifetimes. It’s mind-blowing to me. I wish I could have something like that, with friends, that I may rise above the fear and take a chance on people.
9. I’ll Give You The Sun by Jandy Nelson-“Maybe some people are just meant to be in the same story.”
When I read this book, I was really lonely. But, I kept feeling this tug from the universe telling me that you don’t have to let your past relationships go. I conflate confronting my past with escaping it too often, even back then. Funnily enough, this story is about two siblings who are not speaking to each other, which is something rather common in my life, because they come to terms with their differences somehow. Here’s hoping I can make my own peace with my inner demons.
8. the dream thieves by maggie stiefvater–“‘I wish you could be kissed, Jane,’ he said. ‘Because I would beg just one off you. Under all this.’ He flailed an arm toward the stars.”
Their love is so pure and sweet. It was a privilege to read their story for four books. Seriously.
Speaking of which…
7. The Raven king by maggie stiefvater-“His feelings for Adam were an oil spill; he’d let them overflow and now there wasn’t a damn place in the ocean that wouldn’t catch fire if he dropped a match.”
Come on. Ronan Lynch, who feels everything so intensely, is a wonder to behold. He scared me at first, because I could kind of identify with him. I yearned to be like him in my past. To see him so vulnerable humanized him, made him a small babe that I wanted to protect.
6.City of Glass by Cassandra Clare-““Not everything is about you,” Clary said furiously.”Possibly,” Jace said, “but you do have to admit that the majority of things are.”’
Listen, Jace just sounds like how I make fun of myself. I love Cassie Clare’s writing. She can do no wrong in my world.
5. Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell-“I don’t trust anybody. Not anybody. And the more that I care about someone, the more sure I am they’re going to get tired of me and take off.”
The awkward moment when a fictional character says what is always unspoken for me.
4. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green-“Maybe ‘okay’ will be our ‘always.'”
Sometimes, when people know what you mean, it doesn’t really matter how you phrase things. This is a thought that paralyzes me, because I am often hung up on the semantics. I feel things intensely, and I don’t often find the right words or actions to express my feelings and thoughts. I read this book way back in 2012, and I still think about it and about this moment.
3. more happy than not by adam silvera-“The boy with no direction taught me something unforgettable: happiness comes again if you let it.”
Mental illness tells me many things. There are really tough nights, and I think of this book on those nights especially. It’s easily a favorite of mine.
This leads me to:
2. Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo-“I would have come for you. And if I couldn’t walk, I’d crawl to you, and no matter how broken we were, we’d fight our way out together-knives drawn, pistols blazing. Because that’s what we do. We never stop fighting.”
My tough fighters, Inej and Kaz, are so dear to me. And, as someone who has endured sexual abuse, I identified with Inej and Nina both. Maybe I’ll write about it later. But this post is already long. I like that Kaz and Inej don’t touch. It comforts me a lot.
1. Six of crows by leigh bardugo-“Jesper knocked his head against the hull and cast his eyes heavenward. “Fine. But if Pekka Rollins kills us all, I’m going to get Wylan’s ghost to teach my ghost how to play the flute just so that I can annoy the hell out of your ghost.” Brekker’s lips quirked. “I’ll just hire Matthias’ ghost to kick your ghost’s ass.” “My ghost won’t associate with your ghost,” Matthias said primly, and then wondered if the sea air was rotting his brain.”
Because to me, all the interactions between the Dregs is a breathless affectionate whisper. You got to listen to them bickering and see who they become throughout these two books. They are so wonderful, it really makes my heart beat a little faster. Just look at Matthias warming up to them. So good.
I have been very lucky with books lately, so excuse the barrage of reviews on the blog. Exciting to have more stories to discuss, to be honest. Today, I am going to be talking about Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake.
A matriarchy exists, where a queen gives birth to triplets. These three girls are then separated and tasked with killing each other. The survivor becomes queen.
Okay. Let me try to get this right. Mirabella is an elemental queen, living in a convent-type of place. Then, there is Arsinoe. She is a naturalist, who can control animals and plants. Finally, Katharine is our poisoner queen, who can consume high levels of poison.
Along the way, there are also characters who support each one of the queens.
(Run. Spoilers ahead)
Overall, I liked this book quite a bit. It is slow moving, mainly because there is so much political intrigue going on. Blake introduces each royal queen. In doing so, she also has to include side characters who belong in each individual court.
Now, the big thing in this story is about sisterhood. I know it doesn’t sound like it from the premise, but Mirabella, the most powerful of them, has dreams of the sisters changing tradition. She reaches out to Arsinoe (accidentally or on purpose. Debatable semantics here).
The other twist you don’t quite see coming is how much this novel truly reflects on young adult literature. In essence, the tale revolves around the theme of self discovery which manifests itself in the idea of supernatural powers. Quite impressively, the author is dealing with characters who have not found their strength just yet, and they are tasked with an epic battle (to the death!).
In addition, this struggle to find power also appears in the queens’ attempts to voice their own opinions within their courts. Fear plays a huge part in their narratives, because they are not as strong as their courts try to convey to the other courts. It’s quite a Slytherin-y thing and it makes me so happy.
However, the story also has kind of a Skrillex kind of vibe. As in, the bass doesn’t quite drop in a dramatic way. Instead, it is a lot of build up and no intense conclusion. The next book will hopefully include an actual battle.
The beauty of the book’s ending lies in the emotional weight it carries. It truly feels like a sucker punch when the sisters do meet each other and have to announce their powers. The amount of deceit and fear are tangible yet completely overwhelming. Readers spend so much time in these girls’ heads that they become fully invested in their survival. I don’t know if I can handle any of them dying.
Hence why the book ends on such a cliffhanger.
“I want revenge.”
what about you?
Have you read this book or anything like it? Who are your favorite regal figures in fiction? And, to what extent do you feel like their ascent into the throne was admirable? Also: who do you think will win the battle in the next book?