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Five Dark Fates: Three Dark Crowns, Book 4

Book review by
Carrie R. Wheadon, Common Sense Media
Five Dark Fates: Three Dark Crowns, Book 4 Book Poster Image
Bloody but satisfying end to mature magic-sisters series.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

This is a fantasy, but the power plays for a throne mirror many struggles throughout history. The rebellion ramps up here, showing a force of troops organizing and marching into battle.

Positive Messages

Ending old, harmful, and corrupt traditions becomes a violent power struggle. Those who seek change over power are shown as more righteous. Most of those clinging to tradition and their place in the hierarchy are seen as the enemy. Still, mercy and compassion are shown to family, even if they're on the wrong side of the struggle.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The three sisters must choose the end goal -- to save the island from corrupt forces -- over their own safety, security, and happiness. All are selfless in the end, though it takes Katharine longer to let go of her position and do what's right. It takes Arsinoe time to figure out her place in the struggle and how to use her strengths.

Violence

Main characters die violent deaths. The gore of dead bodies is described during and after battle -- some mangled and torn apart. A mist also tears apart bodies and mangles a hand and a leg -- the leg needs to be amputated. Two dead from poisoning. One tortured with poisons, imprisonment, and constant threats. Arson and arrows kill warriors. Possession by ghosts causes madness and violent acts. Talk of a murdered man carved up with knife and babies drowned.

Sex

An older teen couple has sex with nothing described. Both same-sex and opposite-sex kissing.

Language

"Bastard" and "damn" each about once.

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Older teens drink ale to excess and wake up hung over. Wine poured in a few scenes. Wine used as a scrying tool.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Five Dark Fates is the fourth and final book in the Three Dark Crowns series by the author of the acclaimed horror novel Anna Dressed in Blood. With a plot centering on 16-year-old triplet queens traditionally destined to murder one another in an attempt to rule, this series is best for high school readers and up. As in the last two books, One Dark Throne and Two Dark Reigns, there's teen sex, but it's not described. The aftermath of a night's heavy drinking is described in one scene. Violence continues to be strong and frequent, with even more moments of gore as the final action ramps up. Main characters die violent deaths, and dead bodies are described during and after battle -- some mangled and torn apart. A mist also tears apart bodies and mangles a hand and a leg. Two characters die from poisoning, and one is tortured with poisons, imprisonment, and constant threats. Possession by ghosts causes madness and violent acts. But the three sisters choose to save the island from corrupt forces over their own safety, security, and happiness, and all are ultimately selfless.

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What's the story?

In FIVE DARK FATES: THREE DARK CROWNS, BOOK 4, the rebels on Fennbirn Island face a setback: One of the queens, Mirabella, has defected and didn't say why. Her sister, Queen Arsinoe, can't believe it. Why would she go back to the volatile Queen Katharine? Mirabella just keeps remembering what Madrigal said as she died: that Katharine was "full of the dead." Mirabella needs to know what it means and how to help her youngest sister, even if she's power-hungry and misguided. Katharine doesn't know what to do with Mirabella at first. Will it make her appear weak to have another queen in the capital? Her decision is made for her when the mist threatens to kill more of her people, since Mirabella is the only one who can fight it. A truce forms between the sisters in the capital just as Arsinoe gets word to Mirabella that they want to stage a rescue. She hopes that, with Mirabella back on their side, they can defeat Katharine and take over the island for the legion queen in the spring. Arsinoe wants to save Mirabella while Mirabella still has hope that she can save Katharine. But all this is happening just as Katharine realizes that it's becoming much harder to control the dead and keep them away from her sisters.

Is it any good?

This bloody queen-takedown finale doesn't tie up all of the series' loose ends, but it's still tantalizing with its mix of battles, creepiness, and complex sister conflict. Of course, with a warrior queen in the mix now, there have to be battles. With the superhuman powers in play, Five Dark Fates gives off a cool Wonder Woman vibe. The creep factor comes in as readers see more of Katharine's ghosts in action. For most of the book, she's barely in control of these volatile spirits but still using them to keep her power.

The complex sister conflict is really the best part of this book/series. Mirabella defects right away to see Katharine. Mirabella is the sister who always wants to make peace and save the other ones, but she's in over her head. Arsinoe, even when she's abandoned, never gives up on Mirabella. And eventually all remaining know what has to be done -- and their difficult roles to play. There are a few mysteries that are never solved in Five Dark Fates (like, what happened to the ghost of Queen Daphne?), but otherwise, this finale more than satisfies.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about who lived and who died in Five Dark Fates. Did your favorite queen make it? Is it the outcome you expected? Was the violence what you expected after reading the other books? Was it ever too much?

  • What do you think is next for the island of Fennbirn? What about its goddess-centered religion?

  • This series ends after four books. Would you want a spin-off series? What characters would you like to follow next? Why?

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