The Crown's Game (The Crown's Game, Book #1)
by Evelyn Skye
Release Date: May 17th 2016
2016 Balzer & Bray
Ebook Edition; 399 Pages
Genre: Fiction / YA / Fantasy / Historical
Source: Review copy from publisher
3 / 5 Stars
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
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
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.
long-buried secrets emerge, threatening the future of the empire, it
becomes dangerously clear... the Crown’s Game is not one to lose.
The Crown's Game is a fantasy world of tsarist Russia, and while the premise was somewhat interesting, I actually found that the novel dragged quite a bit. I enjoyed the characters, enjoyed the interplay between the characters, but found the actual plot to be lacking in tension and excitement. Naturally, it had the usual elements often found in young adult novels: the love triangle, the 'I can't live without you' element, and the insta-attraction / love, something that just gets on my nerves. From the moment the two main characters meet is actually when I began to lose interest in the story.
First of all, I liked Vika and Nikolai before they met. I liked how they were ambitious and worked hard to hone their craft; I also enjoyed learning about their backgrounds and how they were able to do what they did. Learning about the Crown's Game should not have really tempered their ambitions too much, but I guess there needed to be a reason why these two would not want to fight to the end, even if that reason was a bit lame. I have never been a fan of insta-attraction, and to just fight back feebly because you think the other person may or may not want to kill you seems pretty silly to me. Personally, if I knew there was a fight with only one victor, ordered by the Crown, I would probably do everything in my power to win, no matter what. Because of this lack of effort in trying to win, the novel got bogged down in details that were uninteresting and just dragged the story down, in my opinion. I would have liked to have seen some tension between the two of them and some serious magical fighting. There was one interesting scene where Vika attempted to destroy everything Nikolai owned and I finally thought we were getting to something good, then suddenly, all the fight went out of Vika, and that was that. As a reader, I was left feeling pretty disappointed.
Then suddenly we have the love triangle. Don't get me wrong, I liked Pasha, I thought he was interesting, but quite different for an heir to a throne. I just couldn't picture him as a possible love interest for Vika, and I think it would have been much more interesting if he had just remained her friend as it would have been much more believable. As it stood in the novel, what Pasha felt for Vika felt much more like a crush and the resulting behaviour was a bit childish, but had deadly consequences for the two combatants. And we are supposed to feel sorry for Pasha because he let his emotions run away from him and couldn't see what the consequences would be? Unfortunately, the actual Game felt overshadowed by this triangle and the resulting contest didn't feel like a contest to the death, but more like two Enchanters showing off their skills.
The Crown's Game is a very light fantasy that doesn't quite live up to its premise. There is a definite lack of tension between the two combatants which made it seem more like they were showing off their skills rather than fighting to the death in a deadly contest. What an Enchanter actually does, other than advise the tsar, is rather murky and lightly fluffed over, and I'm still not quite sure why there needs to be only one when the two of them were doing quite nicely all this time. While I thought the writing was fine, the characters themselves were rather one-dimensional and I didn't really empathize with any of them. It says a lot when I didn't really care one way or another who won the Game. Would I recommend this book? I'm not sure as I didn't hate it, but there were definitely some elements that had me rolling my eyes. But I definitely get the appeal, even if it's not for me.