Each generation 3 sisters are born to the island of Fennbirn. Only one will ascend to the throne and rule unchallenged until the next generation of queens is born. All 3 Queens managed to survive through Book 1, but not all is as it seems with our 3 Queens, and everything is about to get a whole lot deadlier.
Queen Mirabella the Elemental (AKA Storm from X-Men)
Queen Arsinoe the Naturalist (AKA Fake-it-’til-You-Make-it)
Queen Katharine the Poisoner (AKA “Dead & Co”)
Jules the Naturalist, best friend to Queen Arsinoe (AKA Princess Mononoke)
We rejoin our three Queens once they’ve returned to their homes after the Quickening, the climactic event from the first book in which everyone almost died.
I honestly can’t remember the last time the second book in a series was at least as good as the first. One Dark Throne managed to continue weaving through the world put in place in Book 1, and then expanded it to make the characters breathe life and vengeance and passion. At every point, I was enthralled with the tangled web of motives, the desires of the protagonists, and the sheer eeriness woven into the world of Fennbirn.
More than once, I looked up from the book, bleary-eyed, staring at nothing as I pondered what had just happened, what a character had just done. At times I raced through the book, barely aware that any time was passing, and at other times I had to pause to digest the visceral writing and delightfully gruesome details.
Before he can speak, she raises the knife and carves into her own face, along the hairline and her ear as though cutting off a mask.
“Petyr Renard,” she says in a gravelly voice. “We have not been your Katharine since you threw me down the Breccia Domain.”
It’s impossible to read this book and try to guess what will happen. Just when you think you have a grasp of a character and their emotional or mental state, you discover you hadn’t even scratched the surface yet. Each Queen (and Jules) is far more capable than you think they are- more vicious, more naive, more compassionate.
This book is about royalty, it’s true, and magic gone astray. But more than that, it’s a book about 4 powerful girls pretending to be who everyone thinks they are, and then deciding to prove everyone wrong at long last. It’s about fitting into a role that is expected of you only to realize that it’s held you back.
For better or for worse, the 4 main protagonists in this book (I’m counting Jules, she’s the baddiest of bad asses) decide to let go of their inhibitions and embrace their full potentials. And it’s terrifying. And I loved every second of it.
And then… the ending.
Lucky for me, the third installment titled Two Dark Reigns comes out just in time for my birthday (release date September 4) and now I know what I’ll be gifting myself this year!