Initial reaction: Haven’t decided whether or not I’ll give this 2 or 2.5 stars. I definitely liked the premise and the fact that it’s told between the perspectives of the queens, but I found myself losing interest many times through the course of the narrative. I think the problem lies mostly in the way the story’s paced and I couldn’t connect to the characters as closely as I would’ve liked.
Oh, if only this book had the same momentum as the last 20-25% of this book, because the tone of the premise finally pulled through and I actually started enjoying the turn of events, seeing the emotions/actions of the characters finally come to the forefront. Alas, I don’t think that part of the book was worth slogging through much of the story that was presented here. I struggled through the narrative, which is a shame because the beginning had me, it was the overly long middle that had moments of spark and others where it dragged its heels. I think listening to the audiobook narration made the journey easier, but not by that much.
Here’s the long and short of what this story’s about: Triplets (Yaaaaaas!!!) Katherine, Arsinole, and Mirabella begin a costly battle for the right to be ruler of their respective kingdom, but at a steep cost. Two of them must die, while the victor will claim the title. (Double Yaaaas!!!) Each queen has their own respective abilities that they must develop in order to be the victor. However, Katherine and Arsinole struggle to take hold of their respective abilities while Mirabella stands at the forefront with her elemental powers. (Katherine struggles with her ability as a poisoner, while Arsinole is a naturalist – which involves the power to manipulate natural elements.) Much of the book isn’t so much focused on harrowing encounters that the queens face between each other. Instead, it’s focused on how they train, the clashes that occur with their failures, the political manipulation involved in pushing their rulers for the crown, and – you guessed it – several romantic interludes and the clashes that occur around that.
Now, I wouldn’t mind this so much if the novel managed to weave these alternate storylines and elements very well, but it’s so tediously drawn and forced in measures (let’s just say that I wasn’t convinced of the role that Joseph had through much of this narrative) that it took away from the experience of the narrative for me. I liked following each of the queens, though I’ll admit their voices sometimes blended together as the narrative moved through its middle. It was only after I had gotten through most of the story and after a certain set of turning points that the narrative really started hitting the ground running. But that was 75-80% into the book. The pacing of the story wasn’t very good, and it took forever for certain parts of the story to get intriguing while others – which could’ve been lengthened slightly – were too quick for me to really believe in.
In the end, I’ll probably read the next book in this series, but I hope that the level of intrigue and pacing improves. I really do like the tone and the premise of this book, but the execution left much to be desired on several points. It’s not a book I would re-read with enthusiasm, unfortunately.
Overall score: 2.5/5 stars.