Review: Two Dark Reigns

4 out of 5 stars

Now we’re cooking: Katherine is craaaaazy, Mirabella is lovely, Arsinoe is haunted, and the Ascension of the Fennbrin Queens is closing in like the mist around the island.

Bonus: It’s not the end! I always assume series are trilogies, then realize 50 pages from the end that there’s no way this can wrap up before I run out of book. Two Dark Reigns, by Kendare Blake (Three Dark Crowns #3)

IMG-9712Listen. Three Dark Crowns, then One Dark Throne, now Two Dark Reigns? As the third book? I must object. Only the first title truly defines it’s book’s plot, the others could have been reworked. (The fourth book is FIVE Dark Fates... punch.)

That aside, I enjoyed Book Three most of the series! There are all kinds of new potential futures for Fennbrin: Jules turns out to have an incredibly strong, and possibly crazy-making, power fit for a Queen. Arsinoe has another power, too. (Or maybe just one, but not the one she thought.)  And she’s having visions. Arsinoe and Mirabella end up fleeing the Island, while Katherine takes the throne. But she’s not alone – the dead queens who forced their power upon her in the Breccia Domain are rioting inside Katherine’s mind and body. Meanwhile, Arsinoe is communicating with a long-dead Blue Queen – a fourth Queen, a quintuplet – who I bet holds the key to the Island’s true order of ascension.

IMG-9710Whew, that sounds confusing. It’s really fun, too. Katherine is rising to power and descending into madness like side-by-side elevators racing to nowhere. Blake makes her turmoil pop off the page. Same with Arinsoe’s visions, which lead them to the mainland and a very funny outsider’s perspective on what’s basically Victorian England. Mirabella, who was the clear favorite to win, is still the most beautiful, and the only Queen with true power she can control. Yet she’s ended up the least of the Queens – and she doesn’t hate it. Blake’s writing lends Mira a quiet maturity, to balance that time she saved Joseph from near-death by drowning and had sex with him like 5 minutes later on the beach.

Yet Two Dark Reigns refers not to Katherine vs. Arsinoe and/or Mirabella. Instead it’s Jules, best friend and powerful lifelong sidekick to Arsinoe, who emerges as the island’s true power. She has the war gift, which, along with the gift of sight, has long since been eradicated from the island. Jules should have been killed at birth. Now Jules is raising an army, Arsinoe and Mira are fighting their way back to Fennbrin with the Blue Queen’s truth, and Katherine is preparing to flight for the throne and her sanity. And I’m thrilled there is a fourth book coming – even if it’s got five in the title.

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