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.
First things first lemme just get some quick fangirling out of the way: lakdsjroierulakdsf this book holy crap. I just. GUYS. This book was done so amazingly fantastically well. There was so much history and words and gorgeous things. The ship and the characters and the MAGICCC.
Okay there, I’m done now. I’ll be coherent.
So this book takes place in historical Russia, but Skye adds in this amazing magical element that just twists this historical novel into a beautiful high fantasy that just comes alive on the page and honestly one that just made me fall head over heels in love with it. Yes there were some problems with the book that I’ll get into here in a little bit but the story itself was just gorgeous, the writing and the way that people interacted was just wonderful. The characters in this novel were so vivid, and what I really loved is it felt like a push pull of plot and characters driving the story which I found really uniquely wonderful, especially in a debut book.
Alright this is gonna be weird to explain but I’ll try it the best way that I can. There’s two big tropes I’m not a fan of in this book, and Skye tried to change them, and tried to work with them, but I just… I don’t know if she was fully successful. I mean she was successful enough that I didn’t DNF the book, and I still wound up loving the book, but still there were moments of eyerolling.
The first trope is gonna be the love triangle. While this fits in with the second point I’ll focus on this first. The love triangle felt a little rushed, which it was, it was also less of a love triangle than it was a plot point because the love triangle was needed to fuel the plot. Without the love triangle (that even felt fairly one sided) there would’ve been no need for a large portion of the plot in the second half of the book, not to mention the change of friendships and such.
The second trope is gonna be insta-love. Now Skye tried to use it historically, as in it’s more of the men staking their claim of a girl by saying they love her. Marriages weren’t really decided by true love as they were lust, or even enamorment. That’s how I feel at least one side of this love triangle was. The other side however? I think that was largely due to the type of magic these two wield.
I know I just went on a three paragraph rant about what didn’t work after fangirling so hard over this book earlier but I want you to understand that while those elements are there in the book, the overall nature of this book was just absolutely beautiful. The prose, the showing us of feelings, the subtle ways that things were brought to the front. Overall those bits were so beautiful that I feel that everything was more than made up for. But I also know that those mentioned above are touchy for some people.
Okay so now to focus in on the most amazing aspects of this book.
The prose, it’s no secret around here I’m a sucker for a well written book. Now while this book isn’t like one of the top books I’ve ever read with prose, the way that Skye brought her words together painted a vivid picture. I felt like I could see the town as Vika walked through it, and that alone is something masterful to me and my reading. I fell in love with the world and the magic of both Vika and Nicolai as they tried to impress the Tsar.
I really also loved the characters that came to life in these pages, they were bright and alive, they were scared but pushed forward anyway. I think that all around they were the real stars of this book. They were pushed forward by the plot, but often would make choices that would in turn push the plot around. That subtle push pull of things, along with how Skye showed us things rather than telling us it just held this book to an amazing standard.
I REALLY loved this book. The magic, the world, the characters. But I also do see that it has it’s issues, some of those are really touchy subjects for people so, if those are going to bother you then don’t pick this one up. If you’re able to just enjoy the story and move past it? Oh absolutely get your hands on this book.