Author: Evelyn Skye
Series: The Crown's Game #1
Release Date: May 17th, 2016
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy Romance
Vika Andreyeva can summon the snow and turn ash into gold. Nikolai Karimov can see through walls and conjure bridges out of thin air. They are enchanters—the only two in Russia—and with the Ottoman Empire and the Kazakhs threatening, the Tsar needs a powerful enchanter by his side.And so he initiates the Crown’s Game, an ancient duel of magical skill—the greatest test an enchanter will ever know. The victor becomes the Imperial Enchanter and the Tsar’s most respected adviser. The defeated is sentenced to death.Raised on tiny Ovchinin Island her whole life, Vika is eager for the chance to show off her talent in the grand capital of Saint Petersburg. But can she kill another enchanter—even when his magic calls to her like nothing else ever has?For Nikolai, an orphan, the Crown’s Game is the chance of a lifetime. But his deadly opponent is a force to be reckoned with—beautiful, whip smart, imaginative—and he can’t stop thinking about her.And when Pasha, Nikolai’s best friend and heir to the throne, also starts to fall for the mysterious enchantress, Nikolai must defeat the girl they both love... or be killed himself.As long-buried secrets emerge, threatening the future of the empire, it becomes dangerously clear... the Crown’s Game is not one to lose.
So when I caught sight of this gorgeous cover and blurb earlier this month, it was just one of those "I need this book in my life right now!" moment. Naturally I went in with quite high expectations because I love all things magic/fantasy and if there's anything I enjoyed about this read, it was definitely the magic.
The Crown's Game sees Vika Andreyeva and Nikolai Karimov, the only two known enchanters in Russia who fights for a place to be the Imperial Enchanter who serves the Tsar (the royal king of Russia). It's a battle of magic where both of them will take turns to showcase their magic abilities and impress the Tsar on who will be the Chosen one. Unfortunately there's a catch; only one can survive the Game as the one who loses will face death.
From page one, I was already hooked onto the story and if I have to point out the main highlight of why I truly loved this read, it has to be the lush setting of the historical Russia depicted here. The world-building was vividly imaginative, like right down to the finest details of all things Russian. The buildings, the people, the language, EVERYTHING WAS JUST SO PRETTY IN MY HEAD. Later I found out that the author had an extensive knowledge of her Russian history, so that was truly an extra bonus.
When it comes to the characters, I love Vika and Nikolai to each on their own! Vika, the red-haired fierce heroine - you can tell from early on that she's a feisty fighter. She has the ability to wield the natural elements of the earth. Nikolai on the other hand, was kind of a silent fighter- an enigma that has softness in his heart but fiercely protects what he loves. And then there's Pasha, the crown prince of Tsar who is best friends with Nikolai and harbours a crush on Vika when they first met.
Now with that said above, this read kinda spells out a love triangle which is my favorite trope when it comes to YA reads. I mean, I literally live for those because I can always expect the angst that comes with it. While the premise of the book lived up to my expectations, the romance however, fell short for me (which is why I had to deck one star from my rating).
The romance between Vika/Nikolai/Pasha came off strongly as instalove for me. Usually I'd be more forgiving when it comes to YA reads but I definitely felt that it was just so rushed in this read, especially with Pasha who claims his love for Vika when he barely knew her. With Nikolai, you could tell it was brewing there with gradual feelings that grew into something more. I definitely would have loved to see a more developed romance going on in this one but nevertheless, I have high hopes that the second book would redeem the romance portion.
Romance aside, everything else in this book definitely worked for me. Being a debut novel from Evelyn Skye, it definitely surpassed my expectations when it comes down to the writing, the world-building and the general premise of the fantasy read. It was fast-paced for me and there were jaw-dropping twists I didn't see coming! I'm absolutely dying for the next book now because OMAIGOD THE ENDING SLAYED ME! I'm holding on to the hope that the author would fix the situation by the next one because lordy my heart stopped for a moment there with that ending.
Overall a wonderful debut read that will take you on a magical adventure throughout the lush setting of Russia. Like truly, I still can't get over the prettiness of this world-building Evelyn did here.
ARC kindly provided by Harper Collins in exchange for an honest review.
Evelyn Skye was once offered a job by the C.I.A., she not-so-secretly wishes she was on "So You Think You Can Dance," and if you challenge her to a pizza-eating contest, she guarantees she will win. When she isn't writing, Evelyn can be found chasing her daughter on the playground or sitting on the couch, immersed in a good book and eating way too many cookies. THE CROWN'S GAME is her first novel. Evelyn can be found online at www.evelynskye.com and on Twitter @EvelynSkyeYA.