Two Dark Reigns: Three Dark Crowns, Book 3

Book review by
Carrie R. Wheadon, Common Sense Media
Two Dark Reigns: Three Dark Crowns, Book 3 Book Poster Image
Characters lack drive in third volume of triplet queen tale.

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A lot or a little?

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

Educational Value

Though there aren't any triplet queens or magic known in real life, the power plays for a throne mirror many struggles throughout history.

Positive Messages

Loyalty, love, and the honoring of tradition keep the kingdom from falling apart, but barely. Those who don't seek power are shown as more righteous.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Mirabella and Arsinoe learn to rely on each other in most ways, but, in protecting each other from hard truths, they cause more damage to their relationship. Katharine wants to be a legitimate good ruler, but relies too much on negative forces that bring her power, with bad results.

Violence

The gore of dead bodies described -- entrails hanging out, decay, body parts missing -- when a magical force takes innocent victims. A child and woman get stabbed in the throat and die with lots of blood. A woman is poisoned in a slow and calculated attack. Two more possible deaths from possession. A sexual assault with groping and cruelty. Blood-letting in magic rituals. A childbirth with lots of blood. Story of babies left to die and others drowned.

Sex

Two older teen couples have sex with nothing described beyond one couple wearing themselves out physically. Talk of two women and one man in a consensual relationship together.

Language

"Ass" and "arse."

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Many scenes where teen queens -- close to 17 -- and those around them drink ale, champagne, and wine, some of it poisoned. A man packs a pipe.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Two Dark Reigns is the third book in the Three Dark Crowns series by the author of the acclaimed horror novel Anna Dressed in Blood. With the 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 book, One Dark Throne, two teen couples (almost 17 years old) have sex. But less is described here. Violence remains dark with some moments of gore. Dead bodies are described -- entrails hanging out, decay, body parts missing. A child and woman get stabbed in the throat and die with lots of blood. A woman is poisoned in a slow and calculated attack. There are two more possible deaths from possession and a sexual assault with groping and cruelty. Expect many scenes of drinking. Teens and those around them consume ale, wine, and champagne.

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What's the story?

In TWO DARK REIGNS, Arsinoe and Mirabella are feeling anything but settled on the mainland. They live with Billy and his mother and sister for now, but Billy's mother is anxious for them to leave. Billy is expected to marry a rich society girl, not Arsinoe. She may have been a queen on Fennbirn, but on the mainland, she's nothing but a girl who won't wear a proper dress. And a girl who repeatedly wakes the house screaming after dreams of home. Could the island be calling her back? Would she even go? On Fennbirn, Katharine begins her rule. Just when she thinks the people will finally agree that she's the true chosen queen, the island's protective mist that hides it from the mainland rises up, washing bodies ashore. What is the island's magic trying to tell her? She worries it will choose Jules Milone over her, Arisinoe's friend with a warrior talent. Seers on the island claim that Jules was once a queen and could become one again. Katharine also worries that the dead queens residing in her have provoked the island. The strength she borrows from them could be what ultimately usurps her power.

Is it any good?

The third ofo four books in the triplet queen series adds intriguing sentient-island lore, but fails to keep up its momentum and deliciously dark vibe. At the thrilling end to One Dark Throne, it was hard to imagine what was next for two of the queens. And even after we're well into Two Dark Reigns, Arsinoe and Mirabella still don't seem to know. Arsinoe is clearly being called back to the island, but doesn't want to go. Mirabella doesn't seem to care either way. No one knows what to do or is driven by what they want, except to protect the others. Both queens lose their magic on the mainland and so does the story.

On the island, there's about the same amount of indecision. Katharine does and doesn't want to be possessed by dead queens. Jules doesn't really want to be a rebel leader, but she's going along with it. The only thing that seems very decided is the mist. Its origin story is the best part of the book, but shouldn't be. Let's hope the finale draws us back into the queens' struggles and delivers a much more satisfying ending.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about Jules in Two Dark Reigns. How does the support for her claim to the throne grow? Have you read about similar uprisings in real history books?

  • What makes this series darker than other fantasies? Is it the style of violence? The kind of magic? The undead vibe?

  • Do you think the series will end in the same dark way it began? Are you anxious to read the next and final installment?

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