3 out of 5 stars.
I received an ARC of this book.
This is the second book in a series debuting with Three Dark Crowns. This review contains spoilers for the first book.
So this is the second in a quartet. We have now reached the meat of the story: the combat between the three sister/queens that will leave one of them alive to be crowned. Katherine can strike with poison, Arsinoe with her bear (kinda) and Mirabella with her elements.
Throughout the first book we saw the strongest queen, Mirabella, growing reluctant to kill her sisters, but now that she bears scars from Arsinoe’s bear, all bets might be off. Katherine managed to come back from being thrown to her death down a bottomless pit and has grown weirdly ruthless and Arsinoe has now discovered she is also immune to poisons, so they might have been mixed up at birth.
My biggest complaint is still the one from the first book: I cannot seem to keep all the characters straight. There are a bunch of love interests and political figures and relations and for some reason I struggle to identify them all. This book would REALLY benefit from a character guide/family tree in the back. Who is courting who again? How is Jules’ family structured?
This book definitely leaves a lot of ends dangling, so I am very glad they decided to make this a quartet instead of leaving it here. The queens getting mixed up at birth still remains quite unresolved and I want some more exploration into the relationships between the three. This book has Mirabella and Arsinoe getting more entwined, which I appreciated, but Katherine still needs to be explored. She has gotten a lot darker and more confusing in this one and I want to see that resolved.
I also thought more of the fighting between the queens would be direct combat, but, like the first book, there is still tons of political maneuvering. Different sections of the kingdom definitely have reasons to back one queen over another, so some of the higher-ups of various organizations all have their plans and plots about how things should play out. The queens are also being courted by various mainlanders looking to be king-consort, so they have maneuvering to do as well. There is some face-to-face fighting, just not as much as I expected.
This books is a solid second in a series. It just REALLY needs a character index.