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One Dark Throne by Kendare Blake

BOTTOM LINE: A strong sequel to one of the darkest stories out there, which means I loved every word of it.

Genre: Young Adult; Fantasy
Publication Date: 19 September 2017
Source: Publisher via Edelweiss

Synopsis from the Publisher:

“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.”

My Thoughts: Kendare Blake‘s sequel in her Three Dark Crowns series was the one book I most wanted to read this year. To say I had high expectations is an understatement. Of course, anticipating a book and actually reading said book are two very different experiences, and I opened the pages of One Dark Throne with some trepidation and concern that it could not possibly be as good as the first book. Thankfully, my fears were unfounded, and I tore through the novel with all the fervor of someone stumbling upon an oasis after days wandering a desert.

In many ways, One Dark Throne feels like a different book. Sure, the characters are the same, as is the plot. The three queens are still fighting for one crown after all with the same allies and enemies as before. Yet, it is so much darker than the first book. This is in part due to what the girls experienced in the first book. No one could go through what they did and come out the same. This darkness is also due to the continuation of their story. No longer are they displaying their powers and wooing suitors. Now, they are bent upon killing each other, and this duty permeates the entire tone of the story.

The fact that there can be only one true queen and that the price of the crown is the death of two of the sisters is not new. Ms. Blake makes sure readers understand this point from the very beginning. However, understanding what is to happen and believing it will happen are two different things. Readers finish the first novel convinced that the sisters will find a way to beat the traditions and expectations and rule together. Readers are quickly disabused of this notion at the beginning of One Dark Throne. The plot takes on a macabre aspect as the girls do battle for the first time. All you can do is you wonder just how Ms. Blake is going to make her selection and how she is going to pacify the readers who are rooting for all three girls.

Admittedly, the ending is a bit disappointing. Rather than closure, you get an open-ended conclusion that will satisfy no one. The shining light of all this is the fact that somewhere along the way Ms. Blake decided to turn this duology into a longer series. This means more action, politics, romance, and bloodshed. It means the chance to visit at least one more time with characters who evoke numerous emotional responses. It gives us one more opportunity to hope that right will win as well as figure out what right looks like when it comes to this particular island and its politics. In other words, it means another year of waiting to see how the story ends. It is going to be a long wait!

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