I loved, loved, loved this book and the books following it (One Dark Throne, and Two Dark Reigns)! The story centers around triplets, each with a special gift: Arsinoe is a naturalist who is said to be able to tame wild animals; Katherine is a poisoner, said to be able to not suffer ill effects from any poison; Mirabella is an elementalist, said to be able to create enormous storms.
They were separated young and raised separately, which is the custom on Fennbirn for triplets born of royalty. Over generations, each set of triplets spends sixteen years honing their gifts, then they battle for the right to be crowned queen. The winner is the one left alive at the end of the year.One of the many things I loved about this book is the amount of time spent developing the characters. Each sister has her own incredibly layered personality. Katherine and Arsinoe both have trouble with their gifts, while Mirabella is the strongest elementalist there has been in a very long time. I loved seeing the desperation that drives Arsinoe throughout much of the first book, and the determination that Katherine has. There are questions of whether or not any of the triplets is willing to kill the other, political intrigues, and hints here and there of the island’s dark history.
The characters and story line develop naturally over the course of the second book, adding a sense of urgency that made me hold my breath in a few spots.
And Two Dark Reigns is brilliant! The story is thundering along at this point, the characters are incredibly complex, flawed, and vulnerable. At least one (I’m being vague with names so as not to give spoilers) has to fight her own sense of self as well as surviving plots against her.
The ending had me yelling at the book– wow. My poor husband just sighed and smiled when I shrieked in the kitchen. It was so well done! If you like your fantasy dark, and a little violent, this book series is for you. The fantasy world is totally believable, and the characters will draw you in. Read it, and tell me who you think should be crowned queen.
My Book Suggestion: Anna Dressed in Blood, also by Kendare Blake.