Review: One Dark Throne (Three Dark Crowns #2) by Kendare Blake

 

Quick review for a progressive read: I was going to wait until tomorrow to write an extended review, but I figured I might as well because this shouldn’t be that long of a review. The audiobook narration for this novel was great, though I wonder if my reaction to this book would’ve been different if I’d read it in print.

The more I think about “One Dark Throne”, the more I’m in limbo for my reactions to it.

If you want the TL, DR version of my review here it is: I didn’t hate it, but I didn’t fall head over heels in love with the book by the end, which is unfortunate because I did like some turns of this book. I’m sitting right in the middle, and I keep wondering why this series isn’t fully sticking with me despite moments of intrigue and peril that the characters face in their interactions with each other. My end point might be that the pacing of it is just too clunky and the development could be a lot better for the purported story it sells. Also: if one should sell a character centric story blending romance and action – then it needs to have a more consistent set of voices and connectivity. I find I like the idea of the characters and overarching plotline but the way they come across on the page still struggles with establishing more gut-punch investment.

The good news about this novel: it doesn’t have the same stumbling blocks as the first novel did when it comes to setting up shop and setting the framework of the interactions between characters. Katherine, Arsinole, and Mirabella are all in rather various places with their powers and roles, the story picking up right where the last book left off. (Dude, that bear though. I keep thinking of the Shakespeare direction, “Exit, Pursued by a Bear” in quite the literal sense.) The bad news: I still felt like it was a struggle getting through this book on the whole – the narration is extremely clunky and uneven – from the types of narration it switches between to (while some worked for me) plot conveniences that didn’t have much if any foreshadowing, lessening the effect of some revelations despite some tense moments.

I should note that this book is very romance/interaction heavy versus action heavy, so if you’re looking for more cold-blooded merciless kills and situations that reach beyond the point of general eeriness, there are a number but not many to really sink your teeth into. It’s good to see some of the characters step up to the plate (Jules, Arsinole), some actually come across as rather charming (Billy), some harrowing situations where you think some of the characters will die (that darned romp through the forest), but then you’re let down by the way other characters actually DO meet their demise (not because of the fact that they die or the way that they die, but the execution just lacks the emotional gut punch you were expecting to have from it. Case in point: the ending.)

It’s another example of a book that has So. Many. Good. Ideas. that it doesn’t really execute them as well as it could’ve. I still feel invested (and care) enough in this series to see what happens, so I will continue it, but I feel in retrospect, the novel could’ve been so much more than it was, despite some moments where it did improve upon the first book – such moments were fleeting so I’ll have to just keep it right along the same ranking as “Three Dark Crowns.”

Overall score: 2.5/5 stars.

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