Two Dark Reigns by Kendare Blake
From Goodreads: While Arsinoe, Mirabella, and Katharine all have their own scores to settle, they aren’t the only queens stirring things up on Fennbirn Island.
Queen Katharine has waited her entire life to wear the crown. But now that she finally has it, the murmurs of dissent grow louder by the day. There’s also the alarming issue of whether or not her sisters are actually dead—or if they’re waiting in the wings to usurp the throne.
Mirabella and Arsinoe are alive, but in hiding on the minland and dealing with a nightmare of their own: being visited repeatedly by a specter they think might be the fabled Blue Queen. Though she says nothing, her rotting, bony finger pointing out to sea is clear enough: return to Fennbirn.
Jules, too, is in a strange place—in disguise. And her only confidants, a war-gifted girl named Emilia and her oracle friend Mathilde, are urging her to take on a role she can’t imagine filling: a legion-cursed queen who will lead a rebel army to Katharine’s doorstep.
This is an uprising that the mysterious Blue Queen may have more to do with than anyone could have guessed—or expected.
To be honest, I’m not really sure why I requested this book from Netgalley. Following the release of One Dark Throne, I was ready to give up on the series, since I found myself struggling so hard to get into it. I wasn’t particularly fond of the characters, and while the premise was interesting, I didn’t think there was enough meat to the plot to satiate me.
But then I found myself with a review copy, and I figured that I should at least give it a go. And I am very glad that I gave this series a third chance.
There seems to be a lot more depth to the story this time round, with so much going on with every Queen. There’s a glorious sense of danger creeping into the narrative now, more so than when the Queens were told to kill each other. I think part of my struggle with the series up until now was that there was no real sense of threat. As much as the Queens talked and plotted to kill each other, there was never really any doubt in my mind that they wouldn’t follow through with it. And funnily enough, they didn’t. The inclusion of the mysterious Blue Queen definitely changes this up, and for the better. I liked trying to piece together her story, bit by bit, and I liked trying to guess where the narrative might take us next. I can’t help but feel like the series is a little like a child riding a bike with stabilisers. There was always potential there, but it never really deviated off the track. With Two Dark Reigns though, the tension is amped up, and for the first time I feel like Blake has let her story truly take off.
Character-wise, there’s nothing too much more to add to what’s already happened in the rest of the series. There’s something a little lacking in the story here, but at least for the first time, it seems to me that there’s actual characters to cheer for. Arisnoe shows her tenacity and her fierce bravery, and it made me like her a lot more than I have previously. Mirabella also showed some more of her soft side. Katherine, as vicious as she can be, goes through a whole lot of spoilery stuff in Two Dark Reigns that makes her one to watch in future books in the series. I still feel like we get much more of a sense of her advisors than we do of Katherine herself, but I think maybe this is just me being a little nit-picky at this point. Jules, more than anyone, gets a lot of character-development in this book, and I am again quite interested to see where the story might head next, especially for her.
Overall, I’m giving Two Dark Thrones 7/10 stars. It was definitely an improvement on the first two books in the series, and I feel like the author and her writing have grown as the plot progresses. I’m interested to see where the story takes us next, but I still wish there was a bit more character development to sink my teeth into.
Has anyone else read this book or plans to? What did you all think of it? I love hearing your thoughts and opinions on books I read and review, so please feel free to share in the comment section below. Until next time ❤