December 10, 2023

Novel Lives

Book Publicity, Reviews, Author Interviews, and Discussion Posts by Susan Crosby

Fates Are Dark And Full Of Spoilers… Kendare Blake… What Did I Ever Do To You? Five Dark Fates… A Review Of All The Things

Yesterday. All my troubles seemed so far away...

Five Dark Fates By Kendare Blake (Three Dark Crowns #4)

With the ending of Five Dark Fates, I finish a journey that started four weeks ago with Kendare Blake’s Three Dark Crowns, having no clue what a screwed-up mess of a ride, I was in for. Five Dark Fates ends the wild ride Kendare Blake took me on. While I’m now suffering from a severe series hangover, I wouldn’t have missed one twisted, gruesome, insane, Christ on a crouton moment. Thank you to Allisa @ Allisa’s White’s Book Blog for being such an incredible book buddy!

Each book had its own flare after that initial shock to the system. One Dark Throne dropped the soap opera sex drive and cranked up the action, grotesque, revenge ploys, Katharine’s undead status and twisted insanity. Then, in Two Dark Reigns, Blake threw the parking brake, banked a hard left, and played the other side of the coin. By playing up the political intrigue, mysteries, and intellectual games, she was able to move all the pieces into place that would allow the best of the first two books to come together in Five Dark Fates. And collide, they did.

I’m going to miss the three crazy Bitch Queens of Fennbirn. Arsinoe’s snark, Mirabella’s 0 Fuck Bucks to give about whatever her sister is full of- she was going to figure it the hell out, and of course Katharine, who would rather be full of undead queen zombies that made her flay her own face, kill a kid, suck face with Petyr so hard, it put him in a coma, and make her unable to have sex, let alone bare the triplets. I mean she might as well have become a nun, instead of a queen.


Series Hangover

While I have already warned you of spoilers- I should warn you that this might not be so upbeat- I have book serious series hangover.

Book Hangover

Five Dark Fates By Kendare Blake: We Don’t Trade Lives, Captain

To be honest? I am glad Jules told Emilia to go sit and spin when it came to throwing Mirabella off the Mist Cliff… I also find it funny that like six people knew that Mirabella could have been the key to solving the killer mist and yet Mirabella never knew that her fate was being decided by everyone EXCEPT her.


“And when we will get her back,” says Emilia. “And when we do-”

“You will do nothing,” Arsinoe growls. “And we don’t even know if it would work. Why take the word of a centuries-dead murderer? Mirabella is my sister!”

“She is one life. And how many will the mist take if it cannot be stopped? Our rebellion seeks to bring peace to the island. And safety. We cannot just ignore-”

“Yes, we can,” Jules says quietly. She looks at Arsinoe, her expression somber.

“Julies,” Emilia objects.

“No. It’s out of the question.”

However, I didn’t see Katharine siding with Mirabella, and neither did Genevieve (mind you she’s wrong because Mirabella doesn’t know, nor does the rebellion have plans on killing her).

“I have done as you have asked. Become your eyes and ears. So now we know why Mirabella truly fled the rebellion. Because they planned to kill her to put an end to the mist.”

Katharine looks at her. “And now you would have me do the same. When I have given her my word, she would be safe.”

“Her safety or the safety of the island,” Genevieve says, weighing them on her hands.

“She has already secured the safety of the island. She fought the mist and won.”

“She fought the mist, yes, but she did not win. Not for good. It will return. We should kill her now and put an end to one threat at least.”

“No.” Katharine shakes her head. “Not yet.”

These two chapters are pretty much back-to-back and I started having some serious Infinity war vibes…

Infinity War

And considering how things turned out with Arsinoe stopping the damn thing with low magic, which by the way,  she finally told the universe and society to go screw themselves about her using, and owning having mastered, it is a good thing no one decided to try out the whole Mirabella being pitched off the Mist Cliff, idea. Not that it mattered much because speaking of which…


Katharine was just never quite good enough. In Two “Gaggle of” Dark Reigns, Petyr tried so hard to save her from the undead queens, she thought she needed to reign. And then got the life… well ok, maybe soul but not life, sucked out of him. Finally, in Five Dark Fates, Queen Katharine realizes that no matter what power she might be gaining from the undead, they are taking her over, as well. Striking down a child on the docks is just a start. Kendare Blake went there with Katharine and never looked back.

Five Dark Fates By Kendare Blake

Then it is their constant cries to be given over to Mirabella. With her strength and her gifts, they would be unstoppable. Katharine will not have it. She will not let them taint Mirabella. She won’t let them turn her into the monster that Katharine is finally figuring out she has become. When Katharine finally explains the undead truth to Mirabella, she eventually even convinces her to invite Arsinoe to come and help. The three of them together, as sisters to fight the mist, fight for the island, as sisters.

Undead queens, hell-bent on ruling, hell-bent on a stronger body have different plans, unfortunately, and on a trip to the first temple, it all goes awry. When the true, chosen queen is revealed (in a minute now, patience- this isn’t the upbeat fun review of normal, as it is- I’m sad), the undead has a panic attack of epic proportions. They cannot bear the thought of what it means. Their only chance is the stronger, sister, Mirabella. But she is not willing to carry them and that means she must be weakened. Takes control of Katharine’s body, and stabs Mirabella, who can’t get away. Rather than have the undead take her body she tells Katharine to end her life with a slit of the throat. And so, she does, leaving Luca to send Billy back to the rebels with the dead Queen Mira, him.

West Wing

The Chosen One

I’m so rarely right. So, I’m just going to say it now. I called this. Jules, the Legion Queen is the chosen one. From Three Dark Crowns and as her story arc progressed through each book in the series, screamed Aragorn to me. I knew none of the three queens we started off with were going to end up on the crown in the end because it would be too easy. If there is one thing that Kendare Blake proved right off the bat. It is that she is a very brave writer. All things come to an end. Bloodlines, ruling families, all of it. Change hurts. They don’t call it growing pains for no reason. Even if it is a good to change, it is still an adjustment and it still hurts.

Fennbirn was ready for change. As many levels as psycho bitch the undead turned Katharine to be. My heart truly cracked for her, at that moment. Mirabella understood and she could accept it. The idea of letting fate play out for the best of the island, and the people and being a support to Jules, was still privileged. But to Katharine, they were queens from birth, and not ruling meant not being a queen. End of story. If Jules had been chosen, how could they still rule, and her heart literally cracked?

“But why her?” Katharine asks. “Why not us? We are of her. Descended from her!”

“I do not know, Kat. Maybe because we are of that line. And that line has gone too far in the wrong direction.” She lowers her head. “Maybe there is no reason at all. But you saw her. We cannot deny it.

“So, what do we do? Are we not queens anymore?”

“We will always be queens,” Mirabella says, her hands on her smaller sister’s shoulders. “So, we will fight the dead. And we will fight the mist. We will help her.”

But even after all of this and the death of Mirabella, Katharine cannot let it go. Not on her own and not with the undead. And so, war is waged. Unleashing much of the undead into Rho, the Rebellion sees her come barreling in on them. You and whose army? She and her own army and there is no stopping her, as she begins wiping out the rebellion at breakneck speed. I imagine this is how the rebellion felt…

Game of thrones battle of the bastards

Jules knows what must be done, and breaks the tether recently bound by Arsinoe. Once again, unleashing the full power of her curse and taking Rho and the undead on, while the mist rolls in. And in this moment, this fight, and this time Jules becomes the legend, the queen she was born to become, and breaks the curse laid on her since birth, by seizing her destiny.

Arsinoe, Petyr and Katharine

While the war rages below an interesting duo decide to ride head-long into the mist and put an end to the undead and Katharine. That would be Arsinoe and Petyr. I haven’t mentioned Petyr right now, but again, gotta give it to Blake on this choice. Petyr tried so hard to save Katharine this whole series. When he realized what had happened, what his shove had done verse what his intentions were (that would be after seeing her flay her face). He immediately went to find answers.

When that didn’t work, he found a low-magic spell and when that didn’t work, he got something sucked out of him. Now that Arsinoe brought him back from his undead, dead, comatose, whatever that was a state? He knows. As heartbreaking as it is for him to accept, he knows. His Katharine is gone or, even worse, she is suffering horribly at the hands of the undead inside of her, and it must stop.



“You know we are going to kill your queen.”


“And you won’t try and save her?”

“I already tried,” he says quietly. “I failed.”

Petyr has one of the best story arcs in this book because he failed multiple times and finally learned his lesson, albeit way too late. He thought he was saving Katharine when he pushed her into the undead queen’s pit, to begin with. That started this mess. After that, he continually tried to save her, until he finally figured out, she was beyond saving. And it was his doing. He will live with that broken heart, pain, guilt and suffering for the rest of his life.

So together, the most unlikely pair, go to find Katharine and the writing is phenomenal. For everything I just said and everything I know to believe is true about Petyr at this point. He could have betrayed Arsinoe and it would not have shocked me. He did not. I did think that Arsinoe would not be able to kill Katharine and Petyr would have had to do it, for her. But she did, although it was Petyr’s grip she slipped from, going off the cliff, which is beautifully poetic, since he sent her over the cliff, to begin this mess.

Endgame Vormir

Final Thoughts

There are a lot of things missing. My mind is still reeling from having finished on Saturday. There is something I definitely want to reiterate, though. Kendare Blake is an incredibly brave writer. Right up until the end. Three Dark Crowns set up certain structures and understandings that she could have just stuck with and let the scenario play out. I think you can argue that she still does stick with that structure. The only difference was that there was a fourth queen. Oracle Queens existed until they were mostly killed off, as well. There is a history to ground the theory. Bastion City’s existence also grounds this theory. Both were waiting in the wings, along with Jules’ prophecy, from birth to come together and cause problems down the line.

At no point did Blake hide any of this or make it some shocking proclamation in Five Dark Fates. Throughout the series, more than any other subplot was Jules’ bound curse and what might or might not happen with it. I was rooting for her, to be honest. She seemed the strongest and most level-headed. I figured either she was going to come to a tragic end or take the whole damn thing.

Either way, from the character arcs to the plot, no matter how much Blake changed things up, she never lost the core of them. Character arcs are necessary. Whether it is over the course of one book, or a series. Authors have to walk a fine line between growth and losing the core of their characters. The same holds true for the plot, especially in the context of a series.

Blake demonstrates intentionality with every single word. If she did not, you couldn’t transition from the foundational to political, to action and back again so deftly. What a series, finale, and incredible ride. I can’t wait to see how she will devastate my poor heart next! Ember in the Ashes has a lot to live up to, in my next backlist series experience. Then again, Three Dark Crowns followed Nevernight and that was one hell of a challenge!


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