I'm so happy to be sharing my thoughts on The Crown's Game on a tour stop for this book! I highly, highly recommend you check out some of the super creative posts on this tour!
Whew boy. You guys...I would be lying if I said that I LITERALLY read this all in one gulp but I *FEEL* like I did. This book is so addictive for many reasons and I feel like I'm still a little verklempt upon finishing. And by a little I mean A LOT. I will try to get my bearings in 3....2....1...
Okay, so what it's about in a sentence?
Set in an alternate Imperial Russia, it follows Vika and Nikolai, two teens who have to compete against each other using their magic to impress the Tsar to become the The Royal Enchanter who will advise the Tsar and help keep Russia safe from an impending uprising/war -- but there can only be one and the one not victorious will die.
A short list of things you need to know about The Crown's Game
- historical fantasy set in alternate Imperial Russia
- a "last man standing" competition in two teens are forced to duel it out with their magical skills
- Their magic can legit do some of the coolest things I've ever seen in YA fantasy -- and like sometimes frivolous and beautiful rather than fierce and mighty (even though they CAN totally do that kind of stuff) and it's great?
- OMG THE FOOD DESCRIPTIONS -- be sure to have food handy or you might perish.
- a sort of cat and mouse game ensues between the two in the competition that is the most delightful dance to watch as they try to outdo one another but also maybe kill the other in the process to ensure their own victory? BUT ALSO MAYBE KINDA GET TO KNOW EACH OTHER WHICH COMPLICATES THINGS. AND MAKES YOU WANT TO CRAWL IN A HOLE AS THE READER.
What stood out to me?
1. The setting -- an alternate Imperial Russia: I looove historical fantasy and I love alternate history so adding a setting like Imperial Russia into the mix? I almost launched my panties in the air like the true history geek I am. And, boy, did Evelyn Skye deliver on the setting. It was richly and vividly written so I felt like I was dropped in the middle of St. Petersburg or Ovchinin Island or the ballroom of the Royal Palace or anywhere the Dream Benches took you. It was in the little details that Skye just wove together to make every change of setting in this book to feel like it was before your eyes. It was utterly impressive and I have to say I really enjoyed the way she played with the history of this time and the things she added or subtracted from history to make it this great alternate world.
2. The magic: I loved that it was set in a world where magic was rare and that Vika and Nikolai were the only two enchanters in the same generation which doesn't happen a lot. I don't want to reveal a whole lot about the kinds of things that Vika and Nikolai can do but their magic was very different from one another yet both ridiculously powerful and awe-inspiring. I also enjoyed that it was set in a world where the majority of the people don't believe that magic actually exists. Plus the magic is ancient and rooted in Russia itself but there's only so much magic to go around hence only ONE Royal Enchanter. I just really had a lot of fun seeing all the things they could do. I felt like their magic was refreshing from all that I've read.
3. The way the Crown's Game works: The way they compete is that they each have 5 turns to outdo the other and impress the tsar with their magical skill. So one would perform an enchantment and then the next would have to answer to it...it could be hours or days in between. The stakes are death, in the end, but also if they don't perform fast enough they can die. The setup was so fun for how it worked and it became this beautiful sort of dance they did as they each performed their enhancement to outdo the other but also it becomes more personal conversation between the two of them each time they do yet another. I just loved watching them duel back and forth in the way that they did.
4. The relationship between Vika and Nikolai: Oh, you guys. It reminded me so much of The Hunger Games in a way and not in that it was a copycat, not at all, but that FEELING you get between two people who are up against each other and knowing they care about one another but will be responsible for the others demise. I felt their reluctance to even know who the other was because it would be easier to kill the other or basically sentence them to death when they were crowned victor. But the allure you could feel between these two people who are the only of their kind. It was so bittersweet for them to even get to know each other through their conversations but also between their back and forth enchantments for each other for The Crown's Game -- because you KNOW one of them is going to die. The whole time you are reading you are just HOPING there is a way around this clause.
My Last Thought:
4.5 stars!! I really loved this one
Official Synopsis If My Bare Bones One Wasn't Enough:
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.
Hardcover, 416 pages
Expected publication: May 17th 2016 by Balzer + Bray
About The Author & Where To Find Her On The Interwebs:
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.
Pre-order links and info: http://www.evelynskye.
Check out the rest of the tour:Monday, February 29: Bookish Lifestyle - Review + Pinterest Boards
Tuesday, March 1: One Less Lonely Blog - Review
Wednesday, March 2: It Starts at Midnight - Review
Thursday, March 3: Stories & Sweeties - Review + Russian Tea Cake Recipe
Friday, March 4: The YA Book Traveler - Review + Dreamcast & Book Trailer
Saturday, March 5: Pandora's Books - Review
Sunday, March 6: Seeing Double in Neverland - Review
Monday, March 7: Out Of Time - Review + Song
Tuesday, March 8: Book Nerd Addict - Review + Favorite Quotes
Wednesday, March 9: Paper Fury - Review + Reasons to Read This Book!
Thursday, March 10: A Reader Under The Sea - Review
Friday, March 11: The Broke and the Bookish - Review
GIVEAWAY TIME!!One lucky winner will get an arc of The Crown's Game to devour for themselves plus the most gorgeous tote bag.
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