As it turns out, I have more time to read here as moderator Michelle Miller(from Seasons of Reading) has recently announced that this special bookish event is now a month long,which also moves July's High Summer reading to August. In addition, not all of your books have to be sci-fi and/or fantasy, other genres can be part of the mix.
It's a good idea whose time has come and while I did drop one intended book off my initial list, a library loan has taken it's place(more on that later). In the meantime, I was able to finish the first three books in Kendare Blake's Three Dark Crowns YA fantasy series, which are scarily addicting but oh so fun to read!
The first book introduces us to the island nation of Fennbirn, where in every generation, a set of female triplets are born to be queen. Each one has a particular set of magical abilities and are raised apart from one another in communities that favor that young queen's powers.
At age sixteen, all three are brought together to fight to the death for the throne. Dominance over the island by a certain powerful group is also determined by which queen wins.
For the past several reigns, the Poisoners have maintained control over Fennbirn, placing a huge burden on Katherine, whose ability to absorb and survive the affects of various poisons given to her over the years is weak at best.
However, the odds on favorite to win the throne back from the Poisoner crowd is Mirabella, one of strongest Elemental queens to come in a generation. While she is reluctant to destroy the sisters that are remembered only in her dreams, there is no denying that her control over lightning,wind and fire make her a force to be reckoned with:
The one sister who cares least about the throne is Arsinoe, a Naturalist whose powers have yet to manifest. It's only through "low magic" that she has been able to produce a familiar in time for the first ritual meeting of the three, a brown bear that she has limited control over.
Arsinoe's whole goal is to survive,period. With the aid of her best friend Jules Millone,who is far more powerful than most of the Naturalists, she is trying to do just that despite the increasing odds that she will be the first to die.
With the return of a childhood friend Joseph(banished to the mainland for attempting to sail Arsinoe off of the island) and the arrival of William"Billy" Chatsworth, a potential royal suitor, the situation gets more complicated and gruesome risks are taken. When the sisters display their talents at the Quickening, a number of plans for and against each sister go awry, creating more conflict than ever before.
In One Dark Throne, much has changed for the sisters with the most dramatic being for Katherine, who was tossed into a deep pit known as the Breccia Domain(formerly used to dispose of defeated queens) and managed to make it out alive.
That move was made by Pietyr, a cousin of the powerful Arron family of poisoners, who thought that he was sparing her from a horrifying death due to a betrayal plot. Katherine's survival has given her a new life, so to speak as well as a change in her personality.
She is no longer the meek and mild mouse that the brutal life of poisoning has made her,rather Katherine has become a mysterious and deadly enemy who is all too willing to destroy her sisters in any way that she can:
By the time we get to Two Dark Reigns, Katherine has been crowned and her new rule is unsteady, with the protective mist that surrounds the island acting out in strange and violent ways.
Her sisters Mirabella and Arsinoe, along with Billy, have escaped to the mainland and are presumed dead by those on Fennbirn. They are doing their best to adjust to the very different way of life where women are not placed in any positions of power.
Mirabella does not want to ever return to her homeland but Arsinoe is being haunted by dreams from a long ago queen that urge them both to go back home. Meanwhile, a rebellion is growing against Katherine and those whose magical gifts are in the minority want Jules to be their leader and new queen. She is beyond reluctant to do so but when push comes to shove, she can't help but join the fight:
This sisterly saga is truly compulsive reading, with a solid amount of character development and a rich world built by the author that feels so fresh and vibrant. If I didn't have to wait for the fourth book(Five Deadly Fates) to arrive in the fall, I would be reading it right now.
As it is, I am moving on to other things for this readathon and since we can add different genres, my current read is The Satapur Moonstone by Sujita Massey, to be followed by The Readaholics and The Gothic Gala by Laura DiSilvero. With TSM being a library book that happily came to me via hold, it's a good thing that Sci-Fi Summer was expanded like this, so thank you, Michelle! Choosing between a theme and a new read is difficult but fortunately, I and my fellow readathons can now enjoy the best of both literary worlds: