Length: 416 pages
Author: Kendare Blake
Genre: YA Fantasy
Every generation on the island of Fennbirn, a set of triplets is born: three queens, all equal heirs to the crown and each possessor of a coveted magic. Mirabella is a fierce elemental, able to spark hungry flames or vicious storms at the snap of her fingers. Katharine is a poisoner, one who can ingest the deadliest poisons without so much as a stomachache. Arsinoe, a naturalist, is said to have the ability to bloom the reddest rose and control the fiercest of lions.
But becoming the Queen Crowned isn’t solely a matter of royal birth. Each sister has to fight for it. And it’s not just a game of win or lose…it’s life or death. The night the sisters turn sixteen, the battle begins. The last queen standing gets the crown.
If only it was that simple. Katharine is unable to tolerate the weakest poison, and Arsinoe, no matter how hard she tries, can’t make even a weed grow. The two queens have been shamefully faking their powers, taking care to keep each other, the island, and their powerful sister Mirabella none the wiser. But with alliances being formed, betrayals taking shape, and ruthless revenge haunting the queens’ every move, one thing is certain: the last queen standing might not be the strongest…but she may be the darkest.
What I Thought
I had never heard of Kendare Blake before I picked up this book, so I had absolutely no idea what to expect as I started reading. The premise sounded interesting and pretty different from the other stories on shelves these days.
Overall, I felt like this book was a lot of hurry up and wait. As if I was constantly being built up to a big event that never really happened: waiting to sneeze for 4-5 hours straight. What’s saddest about that is that I could tell when those events were supposed to be happening, but it never felt like a big enough moment.
The only really interesting moment came at the cliffhanger ending…the rest were pretty predictable. I was actually surprised by the ending, and felt that Blake did a good job making me think one thing was going on and then having it turn out to be something different.
The characters were all a bit annoying. I felt that the “supporting” characters, so to speak, had more power and fierceness in them, especially Natalia and Luca. I really would have liked to see more of them. The love stories were both predictable, and in the case of Joseph and Jules, really super annoying. Jules is supposed to be (and in many cases is) this strong and fierce young woman, but she just falls to pieces when Joseph is around. I liked Mirabella the most of the three protagonists: she had more of an independent streak in her than any of the others.
Lest you think I am just going to rail on this book for an entire review, I want to talk about the magic. The elemental and naturalist powers are common enough in this type of novel, but I was quite intrigued by the poisoner powers. Maybe Blake found this one to be the most interesting, too, because I felt we got the most glimpses into the life of a poisoner than we did into the others. I enjoyed hearing about how they won’t eat “untainted” foods, how they even give their children poisoned wine. Really interesting, and a different element than I have seen in this type of novel.
I also like the idea behind how the Queens are born and have to fight for their crown, though the history of it is a little vague. I’d be interested in hearing more about how this triple-Queen scenario started, and about the relationships between this island and the world around it (because apparently much of the rest of the world doesn’t think it really exists). Also, I’m confused about who is actually running this country while the girls grow up, or if triplets aren’t born.
This book is pretty predictable and uses a lot of YA tropes, but there are a few unique elements that make it worth reading. As I read, I was not originally planning on reading the sequel, but the twist at the end caught my attention enough that I will. So I don’t think it’s a waste of time to read this one!