Susan @ Novel Lives and I buddy read One Dark Throne last week, so we decided to keep reading this series together! You can find my review for One Dark Throne here, and you can find Susan’s review here. You can also find Susan’s review of Two Dark Reigns here. Just a warning, there will be spoilers for Three Dark Crowns and One Dark Throne in this review, though I will avoid spoilers for Two Dark Reigns.
Title: Two Dark Reigns (Three Dark Crowns, #3)
Author: Kendare Blake
Genres: YA Dark Fantasy
#1 New York Times bestselling author Kendare Blake returns with the highly anticipated third book in the Three Dark Crowns series! And while Arsinoe, Mirabella, and Katharine all have their own scores to settle, they aren’t the only queens stirring things up on Fennbirn Island.
Queen Katharine has waited her entire life to wear the crown. But now that she finally has it, the murmurs of dissent grow louder by the day. There’s also the alarming issue of whether or not her sisters are actually dead—or if they’re waiting in the wings to usurp the throne.
Mirabella and Arsinoe are alive, but in hiding on the mainland and dealing with a nightmare of their own: being visited repeatedly by a specter they think might be the fabled Blue Queen. Though she says nothing, her rotting, bony finger pointing out to sea is clear enough: return to Fennbirn.
Jules, too, is in a strange place—in disguise. And her only confidants, a war-gifted girl named Emilia and her oracle friend Mathilde, are urging her to take on a role she can’t imagine filling: a legion-cursed queen who will lead a rebel army to Katharine’s doorstep.
This is an uprising that the mysterious Blue Queen may have more to do with than anyone could have guessed—or expected.
After talking with Susan about this book, I realized that I had enjoyed this book a lot more than One Dark Throne. I think it’s because my expectations weren’t quite met in the previous book—I thought the author promised that all of the queens would be at each other’s throats, but that wasn’t exactly the case. It wasn’t enough for me. But this book has a slight tonal shift, and it shifted my expectations.
For one, the sisters aren’t after each other anymore. Arsinoe and Mirabella are on the mainland, trying to figure out how to fit into a world that doesn’t seem to want them. Katherine is now queen, though she’s hiding several secrets and struggling to meet everyone’s expectations of her. And Jules is leading a rebellion. All of this is so different from the first two books, and I really enjoyed all of it.
That isn’t to say that this book is any less dark than the last two. There is still quite a bit of murder and a lot of spooky low-magic shenanigans in addition to a spooky ghost queen haunting Arsinoe and Mirabella.
Katherine’s side of the story has consistently been the pov I’ve been most fascinated with. That holds true with Two Dark Reigns. I loved seeing her struggle to choose her allies, fight against the dark queens inside of her, and try to stop a war so she could be known as a peaceful queen. She felt a lot more like the Katherine from the first book—a little bit more relatable than her bloodthirsty self in the second book. She’s trying so hard to be who she wants to be, but everything is against her. I’m very excited to see what happens with her in the next book.
I found it pretty interesting to see Arsinoe and Mirabella on the mainland in comparison to how they’re treated and have to act on Fennbirn Island. I liked seeing them struggle in different ways to adapt. The scenes where Arsinoe was reliving memories from the past was definitely my favorite. The mystery that unfolds because of it had me thinking up all kinds of theories.
Jules part of the story… it’s important to the whole plot, but it just didn’t grab my attention as much as the others. But that’s been true for all of the books.
- As always, Blake’s endings are utterly explosive. Sheesh. She just ended this book in such a way I’ll do anything for the next one. Thank goodness it’s out already.
- I freaking love Braddock.
- Again, I can’t say enough about how fantastic the audiobook is. Go listen to it if you can!
This series keeps getting better and better! I can’t wait for the next book!
Buddy Read Questions
- Who do you think will come up on top in the last book?
I think the books are making me want to think it’s going to be Arsinoe, but I think it’s going to be Mirabella. She’s becoming a little bit more cynical book by book, and she’s so powerful.
2. Have any of your answers from the last review questions changed?
Honestly, no. The main one I was thinking about the most while I was listening to this book is “Who’s story is this?” and I still think it’s Arsinoe’s. I think she’s the hero in this story—she still has everything going against her (though there’s a lot going against Katherine as well), and a lot of the main plot is told through her eyes. Not only that, but it seems a lot of the big decisions are going to be up to her in the next book. I’m curious to see if my opinion of this will change after finishing the last book.
3. If you could get the point of view of one other character in this book, who would you choose?
I think I would choose Luka—I can tell she has a ton going on in her head, and I’d like to see what it all is.
4. Is Fennbirn Island a place you’d want to visit? Why or why not?
At the time the books take place, heck to the no. If there was a time of peace, however, why not? The places the author describes are beautiful, especially the places where the Naturalists live. And I wouldn’t mind trying to hike Mount Horn during the summer.