The Premise: This series is written by Kendare Blake and published by Harper Collins. It covers 4 novels and novella bind-up of 2 stories. The story is set on the island of Fennbirn, which is isolated by a mysterious mist and ruled by factions of magic. Fennbirn is ruled by a queen from a faction of magics. In each generation of queens triplets are born with equal claim to the throne. At 6 they are separated and raised by the three major magical factions that they represent (naturalist, elemental, poisoner). The queen that survives their 16th year becomes queen and her faction rules until the next set of triplets come of age. The first book starts with Katherine, Mirabella, and Arsinoe preparing for their ascension year that only one of them will survive.
My Review: I really enjoyed this series across the for books and two short stories I gave it an average rating of 4.3 stars. I loved the characters (my secret favorite is Braddock). For me fantasy stories that are really character driven is what gets me. All the queen are in the same situation but the way the respond to it is what moves the plot. Personally, the moral grey aspect was done well as it’s not characters choosing power or evil influences. It is one form of survival or another.
Initially, I was hesitant to pick it up because it is marketed as this big fight to the death series ( which is it I guess).If you are picking it up for the fight to the death, please know that there are a couple of epic fight scenes but they don’t first appear until the end of book 1. While the romances have a lot of chemistry, I wish they were either more or less prevalent in the page space. I am never a fan of love spells.
In short, I think the things that I didn’t like were small or because of the way the book was pitched and my expectations were off for book one. I really enjoyed a majority of this series and think it is strong all the way through, book two as a little bit of a sophomore slump but is not as notable as in other popular fantasy series.
Best Book: Five Dark Fates (Book 4) for me it is super rare to feel so happy and satisfied with a finale and it just really stood out. The Oracle Queen (short story of queens past) had me on the edge of my seat screaming. It was so fun to see how other queens have handled the ascension year.
Worst Book: The only one I didn’t enjoy was The Young Queens (short story of Katherine, Mirabella, and Arsinoe as children). I know with these optional short stories to give new information is hard when it is optional for the main series but I got nothing out of this.
Read this series if you enjoy:
- A fantasy series with a satisfying and wonderful conclusion.
- Morally grey characters who make the choices that they have.
- Powerful magic
- Complex family dynamics
Let me know if you have read this series or if you plan to!