The Crown's Game opens in on Vika walking to Cinderella Bakery, where her friend Ludmilla works in order to get her father a "borodinsky loaf". We get a view of her daily life (i.e. buying food, learning new lessons, having her father - Sergei - test her, and ultimately spending time with her father and waiting until it is time for her to become the Tsar's Imperial Enchanter. Living in Ovchinin Island and never having traveled before, Vika is highly anticipating the moment when she will be able to move to Saint Petersburg and become the Tsar's Imperial Enchanter. However, what Vika doesn't know is that there exists another enchanter besides herself.
This is where Nikolai comes into play. Nikolai the poor orphan boy that lived on the steppe until one day a woman came and took him away. His birth mother, Aizhana, died giving birth to her son but a mother's love never truly ends even when Death comes knocking.
Since the day Galina took him from the steppe, she has trained him to become the best enchanter, ready to do any task and complete it before anyone suspected a thing. However, she never did treat him as if he were her own, he had to scramble and learn to trade one thing for another (i.e. clothing, material, gears, and more). But even without any motherly love or guidance, Nikolai managed to build up another relationship - a friendship...with the tsararevich named Pasha.
Having given you the synopsis, or general feel of the novel, let's dive into the review.
To say that this beautiful, captivating, and intriguing work of art is Evelyn Skye's debut novel is truly amazing, delightful, and awe-inspiring. There is truly no words to describe how uniquely colourful the world of Russia was created and brought to life by not only Evelyn Skye herself but also her characters, Vika and Nikolai. There is multiple POV's, and despite repeatedly stating that "I hate reading multiple POV's" I have to admit that the novel felt right with it. If Evelyn Skye only wrote the novel in one POV (i.e. Vika, Nikolai, Pasha, etc.) I do not think it would have been as interesting or captivating and I believe it would not have had the same impact as it did on myself.
The characters emanated a type of a realism that is hard to find in not only a fantasy novel but any novel. They seemed to leap off of the pages and exist within the same confines of my room and my life yet be so entirely isolated within itself. Vika, in my own point of view, seemed to be the most fun to read - I am not sure if it is because she has a rather unique mind and faces life headfirst but I truly enjoyed it. Another aspect that I enjoyed about all characters was that they all seemed to be going through something that effected them and made them take a step back. Some of the characters even changed in the course of the novel however I felt that it was a rather essential step and made them even more real having changed for both the better and the worse. The romance was also amazing to read. It wasn't love at first sight, it developed and made this novel even more delightful to read.
The attention to detail, the description that made me feel as if I were were in Saint Petersburg, Russia, myself, and lastly plot and storyline also drew me into the novel itself. I felt that every time I picked up The Crown's Game, I was transported to a version of Russia that was filled with magic and life at every corner of every street. It felt as if I was walking and standing along with Vika near the Neva River, or running towards the Winter Palace with Nikolai.
In a way, Evelyn Skye created magic of her own. She brought to life these characters and shared them with the world so that we may also experience a piece of magic and Russia too. The Crown's Game was truly a delight to read and review.
If you haven't pre-ordered The Crown's Game by Evelyn Skye yet do so now!
In doing so you will not only receive the novel itself but also thank you gifts that are unlocked as more people pre-order The Crown's Game. Plus if you pre-order from Kepler's Books, you'll get your novel signed by Evelyn Skye herself and receive a comparative gift (limited to the first 200 pre-orders through Kepler's Books).
Pre-order it, pick it up, and read it :)
Summary from Goodreads:
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.
ARC was kindly provided by publisher, HarperCollins, in exchange for an honest review. Thank you.
About The Author:
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. Evelyn can also be found on Instagram @evelyn_skye.