Five Dark Fates, the final book in the Three Dark Crowns series, is inching ever closer, and we’re reliving the past few years we’ve spent fighting for life on Fennbirn Island by recapping everything that’s gone down with our favorite triplet queens so far. Because, honestly, a lot has happened. These books are a slow burn web of intricate betrayals and brutal machinations. You can find our rundown of all things Three Dark Crowns here, and once you’ve refreshed yourself on that, dive down below into the breakneck sequel that is One Dark Throne.
We are not exaggerating when we say this book does not let up.
From shocking revelations planted in the very first pages to a literal hunt, slow dances, and duels to the death, so much goes down in this book that if we hadn’t read it for ourselves, we might not believe it. But we did, and we do, and we’ll recommend it forever. Ready to relieve the drama for yourself? Scroll down and read our official One Dark Throne recap!
What Happened in One Dark Throne?
EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW
• Arsinoe: Arsinoe attempted to fake her way through the Quickening by having a bear “familiar” bound to her best friend, Jules. However, Jules lost control and the bear attacked Mirabella. The island now believes Arsinoe to be the strongest of the triplets—hailing her as the Bear Queen—though Arsinoe is hiding an even bigger secret of her own: She’s a poisoner.
• Jules: The discovery of Arsinoe’s poisoner gift came at Jules’s expense. Without Jules accidentally snacking on a gift from a supposed supporter, Arsinoe would have never realized it was poisoned—or that she was immune to it. Before that, though, Jules had been going through a rough spot with Joseph, the boy she loves. He slept with Mirabella, and Madrigal’s low magic might be to blame. Could her near-death experience help him come to his senses?
• Katharine: One of the other big twists at the end of the last book was Katharine being thrown into the Breccia Domain by Pietyr, the boy she’d begun to love. That wasn’t the end of this queen, though. She emerged, days later, caked in dirt and blood. “I want revenge,“ she threatened, “and then I want my crown.”
• Mirabella: Though the strongest of her siblings, Mirabella was reluctant to hurt either of them. However, the premature attack by Arsinoe’s bear may have changed everything.
For a more in-depth rundown of everyone we’ve met so far, check out our recap of the first book.
• Nicolas: Nicolas is one of the new Mainland suitors to arrive on Fennbirn Island. Most importantly, he’s the only suitor to take an interest in Katharine. He’s cruel, arrogant, and finds her new knack for knife-throwing adorable. He and Pietyr do not get along.
• Emilia: Emilia is a fierce fighter with the rare war gift and some revolutionary ideas.
• Suitor politics: After the events of the Quickening, Arsinoe proves to be much more of a draw than she thought—or intended. Two Mainland suitors approach her camp and offer their support to the Bear Queen, but as a secret poisoner, Arsinoe is torn. She realizes that the poisoners will want to claim her as their queen if she wins. She’s been secretly practicing these newfound skills, after all. But a new poisoner is a sloppy poisoner, and Arsinoe accidentally kills the two suitors who have pursued her. Meanwhile, Katharine is only approached by one suitor, a devious boy named Nicolas who relishes in her newfound cruelty and weapon-wielding skills. Pietyr isn’t thrilled about this for her, but after what he did, she doesn’t care much for what he thinks.
• Arsinoe v. Mirabella: Still believing that Arsinoe attacked her with the bear on purpose, Mirabella decides to set out, find, and kill Arsinoe. Once she hears about this, Arsinoe takes a quick stop at Madrigal’s place to refresh the spell binding her to Braddock, her bear, and then goes to meet her. She tries to talk her sister down, but Mirabella doesn’t want to listen. She attacks Arsinoe with her lightning. Braddock shows up and Arsinoe is able to get away.
No new friends: As a gesture of political goodwill, Billy’s father sends him to attend to Mirabella. He is to become her chef and taster. Joseph goes with him to apologize to her and end things—he really does love Jules!—and the two remain on good terms. Billy finds himself also being won over by Mirabella. Though his heart belongs to Arsinoe, he and Mira become friends, and he explains that Arsinoe never meant to attack her on purpose. Mirabella believes him.
• Katharine’s hunt: Arsinoe recruits Jules to help her during a ceremonial stag hunt issued by Katharine, as she knows she’ll be the real target throughout. Only… Jules and Joseph finally make up before, and oversleep. Arsinoe is on her own. Katharine, believing that Nicolas will also use the opportunity to go after Billy, sets her sights on Arsinoe. She shoots her with a poisoned crossbow bolt while Mirabella watches, hesitant, from afar. Jules shows up just in time and knocks Katharine away with her burgeoning war gift. She grabs Arsinoe, steals Kat’s horse, and flees. Katharine, furious, returns to the crowds to announce that Arsinoe is dead, and Jules has stolen her corpse. She also reveals that Jules has secretly been war-gifted all this time.
• Mirabella’s challenge: Believing Arsinoe to be dead, Mirabella and Billy realize that they need to take Katharine down. They agree to wed. Mirabella, knowing she can take Katharine down one-on-one, publicly calls for a duel.
• The Milone family: Jules takes the near-fatally wounded Arsinoe to the Black Cottage, the isolated home where the triplets were once raised and where, now, Jules’s Aunt Caragh resides after taking her niece’s banishment. She begins to slowly nurse Arsinoe back to health. Madrigal, meanwhile, realizes that she is pregnant. The father is Matthew, Joseph’s brother whom Caragh was in love with before being sent away. Madrigal believes Arsinoe to be dead, and the couple sets off to the Black Cottage, to see if Jules has taken refuge there. They find Arsinoe still alive and, amidst the family reunion, tell her about the duel.
• The ball: Katharine accepts Mirabella’s challenge and insists that they turn the event into a capital celebration. She’s sure that she won’t lose—”they” are on her side. Nicolas asks her to send Pietyr away but she refuses. When Katharine does see Pietyr, she threatens him, before revealing that she believes herself to be possessed. The night of Katharine’s ball, Mirabella and Billy are informed by Joseph that Jules isn’t far behind. Mirabella and Katharine dance as well, and Mira is suprised to find her sister so confident. Katharine even goes so far as to threaten her.
• Pietyr’s dark descent: Pietyr, meanwhile, climbs down into the Breccia Domain. He’s determined to find the truth behind Katharine’s return. Terrified, he’s attacked by what seems to be the vengeful spirits of the dead queens. He realizes that they truly are still down there.
• Mirabella v. Katharine: Mirabella has been poisoned—and is not recovering quickly enough. Her attendants cry as they help her get ready. In the arena, Katharine is confused as to why Mirabella isn’t using her powers. She realizes that, without regard to what she wished, Natalia poisoned her sister. She reluctantly decides to kill Mirabella anyway—but the duel is interrupted by Jules, who saves Mirabella, and Arsinoe, who breaks into the ring. Arsinoe declares the duel to be over just as the guards rush in. The three girls, plus Joseph, are brought to the Volroy’s dungeons.
• The Chatworth family: Billy, racing to save his friends, goes to Madrigal and Caragh for help. They believe they can get the citizens of Wolf Spring to rally behind them. Billy then goes to his father, who insists that it’s too late. He tells Billy that he needs to marry Katharine. Natalia, likewise, tells Katharine that she must choose Billy.
• Katharine’s crowning: The council decides that Arsinoe can be killed in private, but Mirabella’s execution must be made a show. Both will be dealt with once Katharine is declared queen. Rho tattoos the crown onto her head, the temple issues their full support, and Katharine is asked to choose her king consort. She chooses Nicolas, and the two wed.
• Prisoners: Katharine visits her sisters in their cell. She tells them that their battle is over, and the sisters share, what they believe, is one last moment. Katharine poisons Arsinoe. Mirabella begins to sob as Katharine leaves them, distraught as her sister dies in her arms. Of course, once Katharine is gone, Arsinoe wakes, revealing to Mira that she had been a poisoner all along.
• Escape the Volroy: Arsinoe and Mirabella escape their cell and are able to find and free Jules, Joseph, and Camden as well. Guards swarm them upon their attempted escape, and all hope seems lost until a hooded group arrive to help them—warriors from Bastian City. They’re led by a girl named Emilia, and they want to bring Jules home. Billy, of course, is with them. There’s a huge fight within the Volroy halls as the group struggles to escape and Joseph is wounded in the battle.
• Escape the Island: Ready to leave everything behind them, Mirabella and Arsinoe decide to leave Fennbirn Island forever. Billy mentions that surgeons on the Mainland may be able to help Joseph as well, and the group decides to all go together.
• Katharine’s consequences: Billy’s father confronts Natalia, livid that Katharine broke their deal and chose Nicolas as her king consort. He kills her in a fit of rage. Then, discovered by Rho just after, is murdered by the priestess. Not that it’s of much matter, since after consummating their marriage, Katharine wakes up to find Nicolas dying. Her touch has literally killed him. She’s upset, panicking, both because she liked Nicolas and because she’s worried about not being able to give the Goddess her next set of triplets. Pietyr arrives and comforts her. Genevieve is the next to show, and tells them that Natalia is dead. Katharine decides to embrace her rule, take these complications in stride, and, rather than send forces out to find her missing sisters, chooses to believe that they’ll simply not return. She is queen, and she will reign well.
• Survive the sea: The island’s mist attempts to prevent the group from sailing away. It ravages their ship with storms and rough water, and Mirabella struggles to fight it off with her own powers. Joseph, during the chaos, succumbs to his wounds. Jules realizes that her fate does not lie with Arsinoe and returns to Fennbirn Island.
And that’s all (lol) for One Dark Throne! Stay tuned for our Two Dark Reigns recap, and we’ll surely have more to come before this sure-to-be brutal finale is upon us. Let us know which queen you’re rooting for in the comments down below!