I saw this book out of the corner of my eye as I was leaving the YA section of my library. It has all of my go-to words (Russia, magic, secrets, dangerous, romance, etc.) and I immediately checked it out. Needless to say I’m very happy I did so.
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.
The Crown’s Game is full of mystery, magic, and romance. The author did a great job writing this magical version Russia. I truly felt like I was there and experienced everything like the characters.
I liked all the characters. Vika is strong, stubborn, creative, loyal, and loving. Nikolai is sweet, imaginative, conflicted, and loyal. Pasha would probably be my least favorite character but he is more secondary than Nikolai and Vika so I’m not too mad about it. Of course there’s a love triangle between the three of them and I didn’t love that. Partly because I didn’t love Pasha and partly because I am tired of love triangles. I’ve seen claims that the romance between Nikolai and Vika is too instalovey but the magic the author created explains this. Nikolai and Vika each have half of the whole magic of Russia. This magic that’s such a big part of them is literally the “soulmate” to the other’s magic. That combined with their personal (though brief) interactions help explain why this instalove is more believable than a realistic contemporary book.
I love love love the world the author created. Magical Russia, a dangerous game, and interesting relationships. I was never bored while reading- between the character development and the plot, I was always uncovering more of the storyline that kept me hooked. I especially love how much historical accuracy is mixed in with the fantasy elements of the book. It’s always fun when I can be entertained and learn at the same time, and this book did just that.
It sounds like this book should have 5 stars but I can really only give it 4. As much as I loved the world and the dynamics between the characters, I wanted a bit more. I wanted my heart to race more while our characters were placed in dangerous situations. I wanted a greater evil to show itself. I wanted more risk, more dark plot points. There is a second book that I think will have more of this but it would have been great if the first book went that extra step. That being said, this was the author’s debut novel. I still maintain that this is a great book, and the fact that it’s her first is pretty awesome.
If you like anything to do with Russia, magic, romance, and imaginative worlds, do yourself a favor and read this book!