One Dark Throne by Kendare Blake

One Dark Throne

# of Pages: 448

Time it took me to read: 5 days

# of pages a day to finish in a week: 64 pgs

Rating: 5 out of 5


Ever since sister queens Mirabella, Arsinoe, and Katherine were born, they knew that one day two of them would lie dead and only one sister would reign over the whole of the island of Fennbirn. Mirabella, who’s powerful elemental magic has always given her the edge, is no longer the chosen one after Arsinoe’s terrifying naturalist display at Beltane. But all three of the sisters have their secrets, and the only question left is: which sister is willing to do everything that needs to be done to take the throne? Will it be Mirabella, still the strongest, but also the softest of heart, loving still the sisters that she must destroy? Or Arsinoe, raised as a naturalist with no abilities to show, who is actually a poisoner is disguise? Though always seen as weak, one cannot discount Katherine, who is suddenly showing more power and hunger for the throne than she ever has, despite having been thrown into the heart of the island by the boy that she loved. This Ascension Year promises to be the most mysterious and strange in Fennbirn’s history, but the question still stands: which of the three queens will seize the one dark throne?

I’ve already broken my no sequels rule, but I didn’t do a full review of Three Dark Crowns, so I figured I’d be fine to review the sequel.

I really, really enjoyed this book. I rarely give a sequel a better score than an original, but this is one of those times that I really thought that the author stepped it up in her sequel. All three of the sisters showed a different side of themselves than they did in the first book, and I thought that it really brought a lot of depth to each of the protagonists. And might I say that I think Blake really mastered the art of three protagonists. Two is pretty commonly done, but three is a hard feat. I think that typically it’d be hard as a reader for me to care about all three of them equally, but I actually did. I was invested in the outcome of each sister, and found myself rooting for them all, even when they were pitted against one another.

At the end of the first book, I think that there were several routes that Blake could have taken, and this was probably one of the best ones, definitely a tricky one. The story of Katherine, in particular, really kept me guessing the whole time. It was obvious that the author took some risks and killed some darlings in this book, but I think it all paid off. As a writer myself, I respect some hard decisions that she made, but as a reader I was heartbroken. And as a writer if you can make your readers ache for a character that you’ve written, I’d call that a success.

I also think that this story was paced a lot better than it’s predecessor. I don’t think that it was any fault of the prequel’s, because doing set up is hard, but One Dark Throne started with a great pace and ended the same way. There was no sort of slow build up to the action, the action was there right away. When reading the first one, I remember it taking me until just about half way through to become fully invested in the characters and their world, though by the end I was hooked. I have to say that I was hooked from page one in this story, and I was really refreshed by that, because a lot of popular YA writers will produce a banger of a debut novel, but there is so much pressure after that, that typically I find that the sequels don’t perform as well. So I’m always happy to be able to give a sequel a glowing review.

I know I mentioned this in the first review I did, but I was very impressed with the world building and the magic originality of this story. Fennbirn Island is home to the poisoners, the elementalists, the naturalists, the warriors, and the oracles. The warriors and the oracles aren’t as unique, but they are also the most rare, and not the aspect of magic most focused on. It’s the poisoners and the naturalists that are so cool and unique, particularly the poisoners. Though Katherine isn’t my favorite of the sisters,  I can’t help but be fascinated by the whole poisoner culture that Blake has created. Their religion is also really interesting, and brutal as well. I love it a lot.

Anyway, I’m happy to be able to give this book a resounding 5 out of 5. I really enjoyed every page of it, and am surprised and thrilled that there is going to be one more in the series.

If you liked One Dark Throne, try: The Black Witch by Laurie Forest

Poison Study by Maria V Snyder

Sea of Shadows by Kelley Armstrong

Graceling by Kristin Cashore



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