Author: Evelyn Skye
Narrator: Steve West
Publication Date: May 17, 2016
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
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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.
This book caught my attention pretty much as soon as I saw it. The cover is clearly gorgeous and the description promises magic, adventure, and romance! The entire premise sounds amazing and I just KNEW I would love it! Then I read it and it turned out to be too good to be true.
Vika Andreyeva and Nikolai Karimov are the main characters of this story. They're enemies by nature, both having to compete to become the Imperial Enchanter for the Tsar. When only one can win, while the other must die, these characters have nothing else to do than fight to the death. At least, that's the logical course of action in this case, but that is not what these two do. Nope. They make each other gifts and dance and flirt and, obviously, obsess over each other and "fall in love." Because that makes sense.
I didn't particularly care for either of these characters. Vika's actions were confusing from the very beginning. I never quite understood her motivations and didn't find her to be endearing in any way. At least I did enjoy Nikolai at some points throughout this book, although not often. He was the typical tortured love interest who sacrifices for a woman he doesn't even really know. But most of all, they weren't really people I felt like I ever got to know. They were both flat and boring and unsympathetic.
The romance is the worst thing about this book because it did not make sense AT ALL. Not only were these characters enemies and knew that only one could live through the game, but they also did not know each other. At all. They met for like, 3 seconds before they were already feeling electricity or whatever. I didn't buy it. And of course there had to be a love triangle in this book or it wouldn't be a debut YA novel, right? Meet Pasha, the best friend who's just kind of there as a plot device to move the story along. He also happens to be in love with Vika. Oh, and he's spent even less time with her than Nikolai. The whole thing was just impossible to believe.
Like I said, this book promised magic and lots of it, and it did deliver on that one. There was a lot of really cool magic from start to finish! Unfortunately, the magical aspects didn't make much sense either and neither did the game everything revolved around. I feel like the entire premise of the Crown's Game could've been a fantastic book had it been better executed. As it is now, things were vastly under explained in favor of romance that just didn't work and really should have been left out.
The saving grace of this book was its world building. Have I ever been to Russia? Nope. Did I feel like I was in Russia while reading this book? Yes, I did. I'm not sure how accurate the descriptions were, of course, but I did feel like I could have stepped directly into this book because Evelyn Skye did such a fantastic job of painting the settings for me.
The Crown's Game had so much promise and potential! I wanted it to be incredible, but instead the author wrote a romance novel with some magical elements that didn't quite tie together crammed in to make it more interesting. The world building was really well done, but it wasn't enough to save this one for me. I didn't completely hate it, but I certainly did not like it enough to read the second in this series.