One Dark Throne by Kendare Blake was released in North America on September 19, 2017. 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 throne: each other.
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.
This wasn’t one I rushed to the store to buy, or even really rushed to pick up – I wasn’t a huge fan of its predecessor, Three Dark Crowns, and so I wasn’t sure how I would feel about One Dark Throne. But I am glad I did eventually pick it up to read (after receiving the book as a Christmas gift) because I enjoyed One Dark Throne by Kendare Blake significantly more than I enjoyed Three Dark Crowns.
I am going to focus on Fennbirn’s three young queens during this discussion of characters – that is to say, Katharine, Mirabella and Arsinoe. Katharine remains my least favoured queen, though it was much more enjoyable to watch her be devilishly wicked in One Dark Throne (in comparison to her meekness in Three Dark Crowns). She is now easily the least humane of the three sisters, as she goes about flippantly poisoning innocent bystanders to the queens Acension, and the frigid nature of her relationships with just about everyone. She makes the perfect villain – but I simply just couldn’t enjoy her as a protagonist. Moving on to the two queens whose development I actually enjoyed, next is Mirabella, who was once unsure if killing her sisters was truly the best way to Ascension – but now, after the events of the Quickening, and after Katharine’s continued wanton poisoning of those around her, Mirabella is out for blood. But even her anger and need for revenge cannot overpower her kind heart, and she will continue to struggle with her conscience. Finally, Arisnoe struggles with her newly discovered Poisoner abilities, hiding them under the guise of her fake familiar. She is perhaps the most conflicted queen – she would rather die than kill her sisters, fighting back only re-actively, never instigating the attack.
Moving on to a focus on relationships, let me begin by saying that while I enjoyed many of the individual characters in this book, I am still not a huge fan of the majority of the romantic relationships. Most of the relationships Blake has infused into the story seem to be very toxic, manipulative and/or downright unhealthy. The only exception I have really been able to see to this is relationship blossoming between Arsinoe and Billy. This is the only love interest, at this point, whom I absolutely adore, or even remotely care about. In every other relationship, ther eis simply far too much distrust, and/or a distinctly controlling party. But Billy is loyal and his feelings unwavering – even when he and Arsinoe were separated and a potential love-triangle could have formed. The same can also be said for Arsinoe. There were moments where I feared she’d misunderstand him, but thankfully I was proven wrong. These two not only love each other, but they also trust each other, and respect each other as equals, and that is just so important.
Finally, a brief discussion of the story. As I have said, I am glad I did eventually pick this book up to read because I enjoyed One Dark Throne by Kendare Blake significantly more than I enjoyed Three Dark Crowns. The progression of the story did feel much more natural, peppered with various instances to build tension and push the plot forward (whereas Three Dark Crowns seemed to always be building towards a singular event). This increase in building action before the eventual climax made for a much more engaging read. Despite this, the writing style still felt quite clunky, and at times, almost juvenile, which could be jarring to the reader.
In conclusion, One Dark Throne was a much more enjoyable read than its predecessor, though it still had some elements that I found problematic, or which removed the reader from the story a little bit. The character development, especially of the three young queens of Fennbirn, was really well done in this one, as was the story. Overall, I enjoyed this one, but there is definitely still room for improvement (3/5)!