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Three Dark Crowns #1
Description⎮Reviewed Feb. 2017
Narrator: Amy Landon
Length: 9h 52m
4.75★ Audiobook⎮ I don’t say this very often, but I need the next installment right freaking now. Holy wow. I’m still trying to process everything that was just thrown at me. Three Dark Crowns was the most exciting fantasy novel I’ve read since Amy Harmon’s The Bird and the Sword. I didn’t start Three Dark Crowns with very high expectations. It’s my third series from Kendare Blake, but it blows the other two away.
The world building was enveloping and trifold. Blake built three encapsulated worlds, one around each of the sisters, and then seamlessly merged them for an explosive finale. But the character development was her crowning achievement (pun intended). Arsinoe, Mirabella, and Katharine were developed separately, yet their characters still complemented each other. I appreciated the subtle underlying themes of female friendship and familial bond.
My only struggle with this book was the amount of minor characters. The overall pacing of the story was slow, but there were frequent POV rotations. Each POV rotation brought a different set of characters to the forefront. It took me half of the story just to differentiate between the three sisters and almost the entire story to keep the minor characters straight. The frequent rotations made the overall pacing seem faster than it was, but if the story had actually been paced any faster, I’m not sure I could have kept up with the characters at all.
Blake’s straightforward writing style made the story easier to follow. Contrary to my initial beliefs, I found Three Dark Crowns surprisingly easy to listen to during the day, while going about my usual routine. Most fantasy plots require singular concentration and can therefore only be heard during downtime. It usually takes me longer to get through that type of story. But once my mind had a grasp on Three Dark Crowns, it never strayed.
Kendare Blake has a penchant for coming up with irresistibly intriguing plot premises, but Three Dark Crowns was her best executed piece of work yet. The twists and cliffhangers were worthy of a 10pm television timeslot. It was very prime time soap-ish, but more fantastical. Three Dark Crowns was a mind blowing series debut. I’m glad Blake is biding her time, without giving too much away too soon. I’m simmering with anticipation for the next installment.
Narration review: I swear, the timbre of Amy Landon’s voice makes all my cares drift away. Her voice is so soothing, but not to the point of putting me to sleep. There was far too much happening in the story for me to even think about dozing off. The narration was well paced, with appropriate emotion and inflection. Overall, I really enjoyed hearing her performance. My only bone to pick is with the slight lack of characterization. As noted above, I had a hard time mentally juggling the many characters. I think this juggling act was made a little more difficult because Landon didn’t seem to make a huge effort to provide vocal distinction between characters. Given Blake’s distinguishing of the three main families surrounding the sister queens, this seems like a missed opportunity on Landon’s part to audibly enhance the difference is between those families. Without characterization enhancement, the audiobook doesn’t really have a “leg up” on the traditional book format. It was a nice performance, but nothing was added that you couldn’t get from the book. ♣︎