The Crown’s Game (The Crown’s Game #1)
By: Evelyn Skye
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Publication Date: 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.
This book was utterly fantastic.
Evelyn weaves a wholly original story into a Russian backdrop, complete with magic, political influences, and romance. The magic feels familiar yet is executed in a fresh and exciting way, with Evelyn’s writing effectively illustrating everything from Nicolai and Vika’s everyday use of magic to the feats they manage for their turns in the game. The book also extends beyond the confines of the game and it’s board, St. Petersburg. There are rumblings of uprisings on the steppes, the interactions of the two enchanters’ mentors in the snow covered wastelands of Siberia, and a revenge plot that turns bloodier as the book’s climax approaches.
The romance was a slow developing one and never strayed from its position as a definite subplot. There is a love triangle, and it does serve its purpose in influencing the plot, but I loved that Evelyn plays up the rivalry between Pasha and Nicolai rather than having Vika vacillate between the two boys to the detriment of her scenes. It felt original, and much more realistic, this way. After all, even if the boys fancy themselves in love with Vika, she is also competing in a game for her life and shouldn’t be sparing any feelings for her opponent, or have any distractions outside of the game.
Evelyn’s work is speckled with humor and some absolutely beautiful writing. She has created a fantastic world with fully realized characters that when put under pressure show their true colors to their gain or detriment. With a heart-wrenching ending, I’m greatly anticipating what Evelyn has in store next and I need the sequel like I need air to breathe.
It’s your move, Evelyn, and for the well being of my feelings, please make it a good one.
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Disclaimer: The synopsis and cover picture were pulled from the book’s Goodreads page. Neither belong to us. A review copy was provided in exchange for an honest review by Around the World ARC Tours.