“A queen is made of the island as the island is made of her.”
Thank you very much to HarperCollins for providing a copy of the novel in exchange for an honest review. My review is based on a uncorrected galley proof and all quotes used should be checked against the final copy.
(This book is part of #TheReadingQuest – Category: A book set in a different world)
Kendare Blake’s One Dark Throne is the sequel this series deserves. I could not, for the life of me, predict even one potential storyline and so my experience reading this novel was akin to the same feeling I get while watching Game of Thrones: stress, worry and shock.
The battle for the Crown has begun, but which of the three sisters will prevail?
With the unforgettable events of the Quickening behind them and the Ascension Year underway, all bets are off. Katharine, once the weak and feeble sister, is stronger than ever before. Arsinoe, after discovering the truth about her powers, must figure out how to make her secret talent work in her favor without anyone finding out. And Mirabella, once thought to be the strongest sister of all and the certain Queen Crowned, faces attacks like never before—ones that put those around her in danger she can’t seem to prevent.
In this enthralling sequel to Kendare Blake’s New York Times bestselling Three Dark Crowns, Fennbirn’s deadliest queens must face the one thing standing in their way of the crown: each other.
The novel picks up not too long after the conclusion of Three Dark Crowns: the Quickening is over and the Ascension Year has begun … and now the three queens must attempt to kill one another, until only one remains and becomes the Queen of Fennbirn.
The most immediate difference between the first novel and One Dark Throne is the fast-paced storyline and the substantial increase in tension. From the very first page, One Dark Throne is relentless and doesn’t let up for a moment. It is ten times more violent, bloody, and nerve-racking than Three Dark Crowns, which resulted in me devouring the book in less than two days.
The book doesn’t just focus on the queens and their savage fight for the throne, it also follows multiple side characters’ storylines and their attempts to ensure one specific queen being crowned by year’s close.
Natalia, Katharine’s guardian, is desperate to ensure her family, the Arrons, cling to power, while Priestess Luca is all but convinced that Mirabella is destined to win. One Dark Throne delves deeper than a “queenly Hunger Games” and depicts the reality of governing and the lengths people will go to for even a smidgen of power. It’s brutal, but you can’t look away.
“Before the year is over, two of them will be dead. And no matter how hesitant she is to kill, she does not want to be one of the fallen.”
Much like with Three Dark Crowns, the characters are the stars of the novels for me. Many characters grow in this sequel, and that development is a true testament to Blake’s wonderful skills as a writer. Take the three queens as an example: this series has the potential to pit the three girls against one another – literally – and force readers to choose a favourite, and yet readers are unable to: Katharine, Mirabella, and Arsinoe are all equal in terms of readers’ affections – or at least they are for this reader.
Each alternate POV chapter convinced me that one particular sister was now my favourite, but then I’d read Mirabella’s chapter and change my mind, and then I’d read Katharine’s chapter and change my mind again … and on and on for the duration of the novel. It is too hard to pick a favourite sister, so my advice is to not even try.
Even the side characters command a presence in the novel, primarily Jules and Billy. I have always liked Jules and in One Dark Throne we see another side of her that increases my affection. She is so loyal to Arsinoe to the point where her life holds no value, so long as she can protect her best friend. Billy was a surprise to me – in One Dark Throne, I didn’t mind him and I quite enjoyed his banter with Arsinoe, but I throughly fell for him in this novel. Like Jules, he is devoted to Arisone, but he learns more about the Ascension Year and the queens and finds himself questioning everything he thought he knew.
“Since the beginning. That old parable, that the Goddess sent gifts through the sacrifice of queens, triplets sent to the island when the people were still wild tribes. The strongest slew her sisters and their blood fed the island. And she ruled as queen until the Goddess sent new triplets, who grew, and killed, and fed the island. They say it was an instinct once. The drive to kill one another as natural as stags locking horns in the autumn. But that is only a story.”
So, the queens. Oh boy.
Arsinoe is such an inspiration because her entire life she has been told that she is the weak queen, that she must die so one of her sisters can assume the throne. In Three Dark Crowns, she has all but accepted her lot in life, but in One Dark Throne Arisone learns her own value and that she deserves to live a long and happy life. She is no longer pushed to the sidelines to make way for a sister; she is a fighter.
Mirabella is the most powerful of the three queens, but she is also the most gentle: she loves her sisters dearly and does not want to take their lives. Like Arsinoe, Mirabella has a great group of friends who would lay down their lives for her, and the few moments of female companionship were much appreciated. But Mirabella, too, goes through intense characterisation and comes to devastating realisations.
Katharine. Oh, Katharine. She turns into the biggest badass in this novel and I had a huge smile on my face whenever she graced the page. Katharine must now deal with the effects of what happened to her at the conclusion of Three Dark Crowns, and she becomes an entirely different person. Gone is the frightened little girl who could barely choke down poison, and in her place is a confident, sinister woman who knows exactly what she wants.
One Dark Throne is one of the best YA sequels I have ever read, and even days later, I am still left reeling. Blake has taken her incredible story further than I thought she would go and the result is an epic yet vicious book. I just read that there will be two other novels in this series and I can’t wait to see what else Blake has in store for us!
One Dark Throne is set for publication September 19, 2017. Preorder the novel:
Current #TheReadingQuest tally:
Overall EXP: 40
Overall HP: 101
Number of books completed: 2
Number of times # was used on SM: 3