The Young Queens (Three Dark Crowns 0.2) by Kendare Blake

It’s a happy coincidence that whenever I get a break from covering new fiction, there’s an installment of the Three Dark Crowns series waiting for me from the public library. It’s like it’s meant to be or something!

Anyway, this novella looks back at formative chapters of the early lives of our three queens of Fennbirn — Mirabella, Arsinoe and Katharine — and the awful, no-good choice their mother made shortly after they were born. I mean, I get why she did it, and the system is as much to blame as she was but yikes. And it sure as hell didn’t do what she intended, to break the stranglehold of the Arron family of poisoners on the politics of the island. Tho, granted, there’s still another book in the series — that I’m anxiously panting for — so who knows, perhaps her choice wasn’t so misguided after all. I just… God, I feel so bad for Katharine. At this point in the series, 3 full-length novels in, she’s clearly a villain but she is so much the product of both her upbringing and the terrible, terrible things that were done to her since the fight to rule officially began, that all I want is for her to be able to find a safe place to live a quiet, happy life, redemption optional tho preferred. Anyway, this book answers the main question of why two of the queens were “giftless” growing up, and goes into more detail on their childhood bonds and what it took to break them (among many other things!) Lots here for series fans: newcomers should probably start at the beginning with Three Dark Crowns tho.

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