4.5 stars. Wow this was bloody fantastic.
The first 35% or so was ROUGH. I honestly would have DNF’ed this had it not been for friends telling me to keep going. I’M SO GLAD I DID. So if you’re reading this and you get bored/overwhelmed with all the names/generally disinterested… it WILL pick up! (And don’t worry about memorizing all the character names/who is who.)
Basically we have three triplets. They are separated at a young age and each raised in separate parts of the kingdom/island thing. Each of them is tailored to have one type of magic. When they reach 16, they are all supposed to face each other off with said magic, and whoever wins gets the throne. (Not only are they supposed to try and kill each other, they try to gain supporters and win suitors to help them in this.) Then, the surviving queen will choose a suitor who will act as ‘king consort’. She will have said triplets (thanks to the curse on the island?), be sent away, rinse and repeat. Pretty depressing world, if you ask me. The general vibe is pretty dark and bleak, so be prepared.
*Very Minor spoilers below*
Anyway, I went into this fully expecting to favor one queen and not like the others- but I was surprised. I actually adored each of them – and felt really sorry for them. What I didn’t expect was to get really invested in each of their stories AND all the suitors as well. Each queen has a “guy” that they are close to/favor… but things do not play out the way you’ll expect them to. Shit gets cray.
We have Katherine – who is the ‘poisoner queen’ raised by the Poisoners. Except, she’s so incredibly weak and isn’t actually showing strength digesting said poisons. She’s forced to eat poisoned food all the time and is constantly sick. Since she appears so weak, her clan is greatly concerned and tries to fake her strength. Poor Kat pretty much knows she’s going to die- so her only chance at survive is to learn how to “woo” all the suitors. Enter Peityr – the boy who offers to train her on how to woo men.
Then there’s Arsinoe who I just adored. She’s strong, kind, and generally just badass. She’s raised by the Naturalists who have a gift for animals. Each naturalist has the power to tame one animal – and that animal becomes theirs / they can control said animal for the rest of their life. Except Arsinoe can’t seem to do that. But, she has dear friends and has a great attitude anyway — though they don’t expect her to live past the ascension year either. Then she meets Billy, and … I can’t say anything else.
Mirabella is the strongest of all the queens – her gift as an elementalist (she can control elements/weather) is extremely powerful. Everyone expects her to easily win/outlive her sisters… BUT… she is so incredibly kind and doesn’t want to hurt them. I CANT EVEN with the guy. I can’t. I can’t. I’m not saying that’s a good or bad thing either. Just wait.
AND THEN there’s Jules, Arsinoe’s best friend and very powerful naturalist who almost feels like a fourth main character. She has several POVs and she gets very tangled in things and her love story.. I can’t.
SOOOOOO all that to say… the story picks up and lightly introduces you to each queen and blah blah. But their stories get intermingled REALLY quickly. And it happens in ways you won’t ever suspect. And it gets emotional. And I was flailing and freaking out and…. Ugh. Just read it.
AND THEN THE END OHMERGSKERJSLKFJSLKDFJSLDKFJ. I DID NOT SEE THAT COMING. Okay okay, but everyone told me the end was crazy awesome- but just to give a heads up… it’s not this huge action packed scene. It’s one kicker at the very end.
LSKDFJ:LSKDFJ HOW ARE WE SUPPOSED TO WAIT A YEAR FOR THE NEXT BOOK?!??!?! WHAT THE CRAP.
Oh also, the audiobook was fantastic. LOVED the narrator. The writing felt a bit dry at the beginning and when I switched to audio, it felt a bit more lively!