The queens of Fennbirn are back in this sequel to Three Dark Crowns, and the drama of the Ascension Year is heating up. Mirabella, Katharine, and Arsinoe are back and two of them must die so that one can take the throne and rule as the island has always been ruled. But this Ascension Year is not like any other. There are suitors, secret trysts, newly discovered powers, a curse, a lot of poison, and some pretty sharp knives in this sequel.
One Dark Throne starts just after where Three Dark Crowns ended. The Quickening went horribly awry, Arsinoe’s bear attacked and killed some people, and Katharine got pushed into the Breccia Domain by the boy she thought she loved. But Arsinoe has discovered a new power, Mirabella is still trying to determine what she wants and what she will do to win, and Katharine crawled out of the Breccia Domain forever changed, so things are about to get wild. Throughout One Dark Throne, you get fade to black sex, a lot of poisoned food and knives and clothes, a heck ton of innocent victims in all this, and a crowning. Yes, that’s right. At the end of this, a queen is crowned, but can you guess who it might be? Will it be Katharine, the poisoner who was so weak when we first met her, Mirabella, the strong elemental who was favored for the crown but has trouble with the demands of the Ascension Year, or Arsinoe, the failed naturalist turned poisoner who is constantly counted out of the game? Read it to find out! In just under 450 pages, so much changes for these three girls.
I like these books because they are just the level of fantasy I can tolerate. I don’t particularly enjoy books that rely on faeries and mystical witches and dragons, and while this book does have magic and stuff, and that is a large part of the story, it doesn’t feel overwhelming fantastical. Perhaps because so much of the story focuses on the strategy and the game at hand, kind of like a YA Game of Thrones.
One of my biggest issues with One Dark Throne was the deaths of Nicolas and Joseph. I felt like they came out of nowhere and weren’t treated with the care that we got with other deaths, including Natalia. I understand how they died, it’s logical, but why did it come out of the blue like that when they were seemingly in way more danger in other scenes, especially Joseph? It’s so anticlimactic to have him die like that, just out of the blue as soon as they get away from a wound he survives long enough to get away. I know he had to die to let Jules find her power and all that, but come on? Also, I really wanted to see Nicolas be a bad influence on Katharine or complicate her relationship with Pietyr. Why take that away from me and kill him so quickly when he was shaping up to be a character that mattered throughout the whole novel? Frustrating, to say the least. These two deaths didn’t ruin the book for me, and I’m not even mad that they died, I’m just frustrated with the way their deaths came about and were handled with so little detail or care.