Alright, my opinion on this book is actually very interesting considering how many times it changed from when I first heard of it to when I finished reading it. Around the time of this book’s release there were a hella lot of booktubers talking about it because I think it was the book of the month for a few subscription boxes. The synopsis of this book gives us the idea that it’s about triplets who have to fight to the death to see who claims the throne. And there’s also the fact that one of them can control the elements, the other is a poisoner and the third is a naturalist, meaning she can bloom flowers and stuff. It just sounds like a pretty awesome political fantasy right?
I wouldn’t say that the story was completely different from what I expected but it did disappoint a bit. However, I did definitely end up loving it a lot, because this is one of those books that are very character driven and we all know I love me some characters.
I will say that it did move very slowly for about the entire first half or more of the book. A lot of the book is just character introductions and preparation for the big festival where the queens show off their skills. There are also A LOT of side characters which aren’t awful but it just really confused me. I will say that there is also a random love triangle that just sort of happens?!?! I just felt like that was so unnecessary and it all just felt very forced, I don’t think the book needed that at all.
But that’s about all that I really found wrong with the book. I’ve grown so attached to the characters that I keep talking about them to everyone – specifically, Arsinoe, the naturalist queen. I suppose she is my favorite but this book is unique because there is no bad queen or one of the triplets who is particularly despicable all of them seem very genuine and we get to follow each of them at different points in the story so you’re pretty much rooting for all three and that really does add a lot of tension, at least it did for me as a reader because I knew that two of them were going to die. Plus, I don’t think I’ve read a book with a matriarchy before and that was very much appreciated.
All in all, it was a super fun read and I really look forward to the second book because THAT END THOUGH.
So let’s start off by talking about Katherine for a bit. I think in terms of character arc, hers was the most well done, because it’s really hard to see character growth in such a short amount of time without it seeming ridiculous and in Katherine’s case I think we got to see her slowly grow out of being the weak and easily fooled queen because she grows extremely confident and basically just toughens up. I guess a lot of this is thanks to Pietyr but I refuse to give him credit because I HAVE NEVER BEEN MORE ANNOYED BY A CHARACTER (except for maybe Joseph but more on him later ugh). I just felt like he was so manipulative even though we’re meant to believe that he eventually loves Katherine. It just felt like he was using her and Katherine is naive and I doesn’t know better and I just wanna protect the poor thing from him. NOT TO MENTION HE PUSHED HER DOWN A CLIFF UHHH WHAT.
And next we have Mirabella. She’s probably my least favorite which in no way means I don’t like her, it’s just that I liked the other two slightly more. And perhaps the reason for this is that annoying ass love triangle. Although it wasn’t exactly her fault initially because ugh just Joseph is such a tool, either way she kept going with it. For what exactly? What frustrates me more is that he’s made out to care about both Jules and Mirabella even though he’s playing with both of them. I was really on board with the Jules and Joseph ship until he screwed up and I just feel like his relationship with Mirabella was very lusty.
When we’re first given an idea of how powerful Mirabella is, I thought I was going to hate her and she was going to be absolutely full of it. Although that wasn’t the case at all, because Mirabella turned out to be extremely compassionate towards her sisters, at least as compassionate as she can be. I also really liked her close friendships with Bree and Elizabeth.
And finally, we have my personal favorite, Arsinoe. THIS LITTLE BADASS, I SWEAR. I just felt so much for Arsinoe because she deals with a lot through the book. All her injuries and scars from dealing in low magic to the bear attack, as well as the fact that she has to deal with so much taunting for being the ‘weakest’ queen since her gift has not come. And yet, she remains very opinionated and puts up with it all. She defies the rules and that’s always nice to read about. I also really really love her relationship with Billy, I think it was my favorite friendship in the book. Partly because we see them grow closer and it always remains a constant that Billy has so much respect and admiration for her. LIKE THAT PART WHERE HE ONLY BOWS TO HER OH MY GOSH I DIED. I hope they’re friendship remains platonic because I feel like it’s a rarity in YA books and also I don’t want things to change between these two.
And of course there is that plot twist that Arsinoe is actually the poisoner queen. When I read that bit, it occurred to me (after I gasped for a bit) that a lot of the book was leading up to this. I don’t know if it means that Katherine is the naturalist queen and there was some sort of mix up, or something else entirely. Either way, I really enjoyed how this book ended.