Morning Mortals! Back with the last of my YALC haul! It may have taken me half a year but I finally read my way through the enormous backpack of books I dragged across London! Celebrate with me! This was one of the books I bought while leaving, mostly on a whim. I’m glad I did as it was a great read!
When kingdom come, there will be one.
In 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.
I had thoughts that this would be another story about three sisters (in fairness it is usually two sisters – so one can be pretty and one can be ugly) who are expected to hate each other but instead rebel and the power of love wins out. Now I’m not saying that this is a book devoid of YA cliché – it has some – but it was far less predictable than I anticipated. I know I’ve talked in the past about how more books should have female characters who support each other instead of tearing each other down. There are friendships like that in this book, just not between the three sisters. What I appreciated most is that, while ‘the prettier sister’ trope does come into things a little, the things which drive these siblings apart is never looks. It’s never ‘she is pretty so she must be a bitch’, nor is it ‘the plain one is the one with a heart’. Very refreshing to move away from that narrative.
My favourite element of this book was the idea of poisoner queens. The morbid fascination I have with poisons would probably worry both my mother and my husband (it’s ok, I rarely cook). Clearly Kendare Blake did her research into this element of the book, it was showered in little details which had my imagination ringing. Katherine was by far my favourite of the three siblings and I think this detail is to blame.
I also have to say (without spoiling anything) that this plot actually managed to surprise me! Maybe I’m feeling a little sleepy and I’m not as sharp as I normally am – doing a play and taking on a new job has taken it out of me somewhat – but it was amazing to actually be surprised by a plot twist in YA. It was the best kind, the kind where you think back on the rest of the book and you can’t believe you missed it from the beginning!
The only thing which stopped this from getting five stars, for me, was the fact that it felt a little imbalanced. I felt like I got to know Katherine and Mirabella quite well and Arsinoe much less. I appreciate that to have the full backstory of three characters would have made the book a bit too long, but I would have liked to leave the story not feeling like I was rooting for any one queen above another. I suspect the balance will differ in later books and will eventually even out.
Put simply, this was a surprisingly enjoyable read, if the rest of the books in this series hold their own next to this one I shall be very pleased!
My rating: 4/5 stars
All opinions are my own!
What say you? Have you read this? How long has it been lingering on your TBR? Let me know in the comments below!