Published by Balzer + Bray on May 17th 2016
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.
I received this book for free from ALA Midwinter Conference in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Sitting here writing this review, I feel like I need to choose my words carefully so I don’t upset anyone. The Crown’s Game has had a ton of hype leading up to it’s release. It seems like half of my Twitter feed has changed their pictures to the cover of this book (which confuses the heck out of me by the way!) and people are practically begging for this book. All in all, I did enjoy a lot of this book, but I also had some issues with it as well.
Let’s start with what I liked about The Crown’s Game. The setting was wonderful. Russia in the time of the Romanovs…with magic. That alone is enough to make me start drooling. I really enjoyed what Evelyn did with the world and I really felt like I could visualize everything that was happening in the plot. I also enjoyed a lot of the characters. Are they some of my favorite fictional characters ever? No. But I did enjoy hearing their story and following them around Imperial Russia.
Now, moving on to a couple issues I had with this book. If you have read the synopsis, you will know it claims that The Crown’s Game tells the tale of the only two enchanters in Russia, Nikolai and Vika, being forced to compete in a game to prove their worth to the tsar. At the end of the game, only one enchanter will live and they will become an adviser to the tsar. Sounds epic, right? Can’t you just picture the epic battle between these two enchanters, desperate to win the tsar’s favor and protect their lives? I could, too. Except that’s not what I got. The “battle” between the two enchanters basically just ends up being a contest to see who can make St. Petersburg look prettier. ALL THEY DO IS DECORATE THE CITY. How in the world does that prove who will be a better adviser to the tsar in times of war????? Honestly, this book just wasn’t what it was advertised as, and that’s not necessarily the author’s fault. What the enchanters created in St. Petersburg was fun, but it wasn’t the “ancient duel of magical skill” that is promised in the synopsis. I felt like I picked up a book and read the synopsis on the dust jacket, only to find out that the dust jacket had been switched and there was a different book inside.
This book was also chock-full of tropes. Tropes, tropes, and more tropes. It felt a little bit like the author was trying to cross plot points off a checklist. Love triangle? Check. Best friends falling for the same girl? Check. Plot twist (that I can’t talk about because of spoilers, but trust me, I’ve seen it before)? Check. Ultimately, it made all of these plot lines feel very forced. The romance wasn’t believable at all, and I found myself rolling my eyes at certain obvious plot twists.
I know I have just spent a lot of time talking about the negatives of this book. But here comes a giant “but.” There were a lot of things I didn’t like about this book, BUT, I think Evelyn Skye could grow into a great writer. I can see the potential in The Crown’s Game. I really think that as she continues this series, her growth as a writer will shine through.
That being said, the ending to The Crown’s Game was…interesting. I am not sure how this series will continue, unless the storyline completely diverges into something different and the second book becomes more of a companion novel. I think I will give it a try, though, because I want to see how it is handled and how the author’s writing progresses. If you have been dying to get your hands on The Crown’s Game, I hope you enjoy it! It was a fun read, but the problems I had with it prevented me from rating it 3 stars or higher. If you have read it, I would definitely like to know what you think!
When you can see the potential through the tropes…..
…..blame it on the books.