The Crown’s Game by Evelyn Skye – ARC Review (AKA You Should Read This Book)

May 16, 2016 Reviews 26 ★★★★½

The Crown’s Game by Evelyn Skye – ARC Review (AKA You Should Read This Book)The Crown's Game by Evelyn Skye
Series: The Crown's Game #1
Also in this series: , The Crown's Fate
Published by Balzer & Bray on 5/17/16
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Pages: 416
Source: Edelweiss
My content rating: YA (Nothing more than kissing)
My rating:
4.5 Stars

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.

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My Take copy3

I’ve already featured this book once on the blog (check out my Bookish Backdrop filled with Russian opulence if you missed it) and told you how much I adored the book, but now that the release date is getting closer I thought it was only fair to give you a full review and expound on the reasons I loved it! After all, you can’t just trust my babbling, nonsensical words of affirmation – you need cold, hard facts! (Or, well, opinions … since that’s what they are, no matter how much I think I’m right.)

To start off, I have to tell you that I had very high expectations for this book. I fell in love with Evelyn’s writing two years ago when I read her short story in an anthology – I haven’t been able to get it out of my mind since. I’ve been anxiously awaiting something more from her ever since. But, honestly, I was nervous. What if I didn’t love this one? What if I’d set my expectations so incredibly sky high that it was impossible to live up to them? Apparently, I had nothing to worry about. Why? Read on …

What Fed My Addiction:

  • The gorgeous writing. From the first few pages of this book, I was pulled in and I knew my soaring expectations were going to be met. Evelyn’s writing is everything I remembered it to be – beautiful and haunting and utterly captivating. Go. Read it and experience it for yourself!
  • Russian fantasy worldbuilding. This was definitely my number one reason for flailing over this book. So often, you read a fantasy novel and it’s set in a somewhat washed out version of a past or future culture – that was not the case with this book at all. There is a TON of magic in this book, but it’s almost closer to historical fiction than it is to fantasy (I guess maybe it’s magical realism?). The setting is perfectly Russia in the semi-distant past (I’m horrible with history, so I don’t know exactly when it matches up). Evelyn says in her author notes that she studied Russia in college, and that definitely shines through in her writing. There’s an incredible amount of detail to the rich worldbuilding – right down to the foods the characters eat. Yet, the worldbuilding never feels tedious at all (something that can happen for me if it gets too detailed or verbose). Evelyn tied all those little details in so beautifully that you almost weren’t aware of them … except you were. (I know, I make no sense – just go read the book please.)
  • The magic! I absolutely loved the magical scenes in this book. The very first scene shows off Vika’s spectacular magical prowess, and I adored every moment of it. Nikolai’s magic was a bit more subdued, possibly more controlled, but no less impressive. Since Nikolai and Vika had to compete with each other and impress the Tsar, there were plenty of fantastic magical scenes. And since the price of losing was death, the stakes were very high! I loved that the magic in the book didn’t necessarily play itself out in huge epic battles but it left such a strong impression on me that I can still picture each enchanter’s turn in the competition in my mind’s eye (and it’s been a couple of months since I actually read the book!).
  • The characters. I was so wrapped up in Vika and Nikolai’s stories and the incredible stakes that I found myself rooting for both of them and desperately wondering how it was all going to turn out! Then there was Pasha, the future Tsar and Nikolai’s best friend. He was the type of ruler who truly seems to love his people and want what’s best for them, so I couldn’t help but love him as well! Toward the end of the book, some major things shift for these characters, making it all SO much more complicated – and therefore even more exciting!

What Left Me Wanting More:

  • The romance. Honestly, I didn’t feel like the romance was the central element to this book. It was really a side plot because everyone was so concerned with staying alive (which is as it should have been), but I do have to admit that, because of this, the romance felt a bit like instalove – and there was even a bit of triangle instalove to make it harder to swallow. (Those of you who truly hate instalove or love triangles have been forewarned.) There just wasn’t enough focus on the romance to allow me to truly connect to it. Since the romance wasn’t a major focus, I was actually mostly okay with this, though. I just let myself get carried away with the rest of the story instead. Still, certain plot points might have had more of an emotional impact on me if I’d been more invested in this aspect of the story.

As you’ve probably figured out by now, I highly recommend you read this book. If you’re a fan of fantasy and you think you’d appreciate the Russian backdrop, you will not be disappointed. I easily give this book 4.5/5 stars!

***Disclosure: I received this book from the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. No other compensation was given and all opinions are my own.***

About the Author

Evelyn-Skye-head-shot-high-resEvelyn 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.

Author Links:
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26 Responses to “The Crown’s Game by Evelyn Skye – ARC Review (AKA You Should Read This Book)”

  1. Rabiah

    Ooo, I’ve heard so much about this one, and I’m glad that it was a fantastic read for you!! Need to start on my copy soon…sad that the romance wasn’t too big (because I mean who doesn’t love a swoon-worthy romance???) but glad it was great overall 🙂 Love your review!!

  2. Joy // Joyousreads

    Okay, so I’m terrified of reading fantasy novels, but I have to admit that I’ve always been curious about the Russian themes. Such a high praise for this one!

  3. Jessica @ a GREAT read

    Nice! I’m excited for this one! Something that has been said a lot in the past year or so it seems! And I can’t for the life of me stay caught up with all the reads!! There are too many! But it’s such a wonderful feeling since as a teen I rarely ever had a new book to read! LOL! Glad to hear that this one was as awesome and exciting as it sounds! If you’ve enjoyed it this much, I suspect I will be right there with you once I read it too! Great review!

  4. JennRenee

    oh oh me me . I want to read this book. Even more now. I don’t mind the instalove and love triangle in a book that isn’t focused on romance. SO I should be good. What draws me in is the russian fantasy aspect. Yes I need this in my life.

    JennRenee recently posted: Jenn's BEA 2016 Experience Post
    • Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction

      Yeah, usually those two things really bother me, but honestly it only felt insta-lovey because romance wasn’t the focus. I would have liked a bit more development of the relationships, but I wouldn’t have wanted it at the expense of the other, more important aspects of the book.

  5. Jen

    I remember your previous post and I am SO happy that I get to read how much you love this book! *happy dance* I don’t mind instalove or love triangles if they are done wonderfully! So thank you for the warning, and hopefully it plays how I can accept it. But I’m sure it will because this book, ohhhh….everything else about it sounds beyond wonderful! Fabulous review, Nicole!

  6. Cait @ Paper Fury

    I soooo 100% agree with your review!! 😀 I LOVED THIS ONE SO MUCH TOO, and I was super lucky enough to be on the tour *shrieks* I think the writing and the world was incredible and Evelyn seems so so super nice. (I mean, not that that reflects on the book, but IT’S JUST NICE when the authors are also awesome people😂)

    and I also agree about the romance…It’s the only part I didn’t get? It was very underdeveloped…I kind of wish it hadn’t been IN there because ti was such a strong story focusing on the magic? But at least it could’ve not been a triangle. 😛 But AH WELL. I suppose we all need a good dose of angst for the sequel…😂

  7. Tanya @ Girl Plus Books

    Love this review, Nicole! This one has been on my radar since I first started seeing it mentioned earlier in the year as an upcoming release. The synopsis hooked me immediately. Russian history backdrop + magic? Yes please! I admit I’m a little bummed to learn that there’s not more romance but I’m still excited to pick this one up. Great review!

    Tanya @ Girl Plus Books recently posted: Review: Breaking the Rules by Katie McGarry

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