Welcome back to the world where three sisters fight it out to be queen. In case you didn’t remember, I reviewed Three Dark Crowns a while back, and found it a bit lightweight for my tastes. Still, I found book two in the library and decided to give it a shot- cos why not?
*Massive spoilers for Three Dark Crowns– you have been warned*
And I can safely say it was marginally better. Particularly as Katherine, the most meh character in the first book, underwent a dark turn and became the most intriguing. Fortunately no one was calling her sweet in this book- and let’s be honest, she was sharp as a barb, so no chance of that. Unfortunately, however, this came at the cost of me feeling far less interested in the other two sisters. While still an okay sort, I wasn’t as invested in Arsinoe and thought Mirabella was a bit of a damp squid this time round.
In terms of writing, it was fine. I can’t believe I didn’t notice this for the first one, but it was written in present tense, which gave it an immediacy, though could be somewhat jarring (I don’t suppose that’s a criticism, more a personal taste thing). It also struck me that the perspectives flipped really fast- which again made the pacing whizz by. I’ll admit, my notes got sidetracked by the technique here, even though it’s not the flashy sort of writing I usually pay close attention to- which sadly was a consequence of not giving a monkeys about the characters.
Anyway, on the positive side, I was not here for that- I was here to be entertained.
Fortunately, this was fun fun fun. The plot certainly thickened in this one and, thanks to Katherine’s more edgy character, it wasn’t as predictable. I didn’t know what was going to happen the whole way through- which is a lot better than guessing the whole thing in the first page I must say! The only thing in terms of the plot that really bugged me was how no one’s guessed Katherine’s a naturalist (oh spoilers, cos this isn’t technically in the book as far as I remember, but that’s only because everyone’s slow on the draw). For those who aren’t into the series, the three queens each have distinct powers: naturalist, poisoner and elemental- and the twist in Three Dark Crown’s was that the naturalist is actually a poisoner- da da! Which makes the poisoner a naturalist. Now, you’d think that if I could figure this out on page 1 of book 1 (you know, the snake familiar was a pretty big giveaway) you’d think that people living in this world would’ve guessed by now… but nope. All they keep saying is “huh funny there were two poisoners in one year…” *facepalm*. Why play out a plot twist that’s already been exposed? I’ll never understand that.
Another thing I wasn’t keen on was the romance. I was unconvinced by Billy, had *no idea* how Kat even entertained the idea of getting back with Pietyr and Joseph could go drown for all I care. Highlight for spoilers: yeah I probably shouldn’t have written that for people that want to read this- he did, quite literally, drown, and no, I didn’t care. I did however think it was cool that Kat killed one love interest by sleeping with him- so, yay? I dunno, like I said, really not in this for the romance. Fortunately, the friendships and other family relationships caught my attention more.
One last thing that’s been bugging me as I’ve read these books is WHERE THE HELL ARE THEY? Seriously, this world building is so sparse- I cannot get a clear picture of where they’re supposed to be. I keep getting loud and clear that this is not like the outside world- but what’s the outside world like? I have no frame of reference apart from them not having queens, not having powers (I think?) and wearing black at funerals… so really, nada! Help me out here!
Okay, I may have thrown a bit too much shade at this book, but I swear I didn’t have such a bad time with it! It was pretty average, but that was fine. I enjoyed it more than book one at least.
Rating: 3/5 bananas
Yeesh- I hope I haven’t ruined that for anyone. Has anyone read this? What did you think of it? Let me know in the comments!