I hope your all having a dazzling December whether you celebrate Christmas or not.
So I want to talk about a book that I finished a few days ago. The Crown’s Game is a low fantasy/historical fiction set in Tsar ruled Russia in the 19th century.
At the beginning of the story we meet Vika and Nikolai, a sixteen year old girl who lives on a small island with her father and Nikolai an eighteen year old who lives in the bustling city of St Petersburg.
Vika and Nikolai are enchanters. Two of the few gifted people who can conjure and manipulate the little magic that is left in the world. Vika can commune with the elements, create flames at her fingertips and call storms from the sky. Nikolai can see through walls and levitate objects with his mind. Both are players in The Crown’s Game. Both will have to risk their lives to become the imperial enchanter aiding the Tsar and defending the entire empire of Russia. One of them must die.
We’ll start with the worst bit. So the characters were kind of flat. They felt like paper cut outs of popular YA troupes: Vika was centre stage, the wild and passionate teen queen, just her, her dad and her dream to get out of her small town life. I’d heard her narrative twenty times before I even read the book which was kind of sad. There was no depth to Vika’s character which on its own would’ve led me to deem this book as nothing more than a measly one star read but because of all the other bustle that was going on it wasn’t too bad. Vika was ok. But that was all she was really, ok.
I liked Nikolai more who was actually mildly interesting. His orphan beginning and his intellectual mind were fun to read about at times. I also appreciated his estranged relationship with his mentor Galina. Ultimately Nikolai did fall short with me in his depth in character. His past was dreadfully interesting but his present? Well… he was not funny, he wasn’t charming and he didn’t even provide much in terms of character building. Nikolai was nice to read about but he felt very static, there was no growth and he was the same guy at the start as he was at the end.
We’ll move on to next kind of bad bit which was actually less bad than the characters. Romance is my favourite part of any story but in The Crown’s Game it was disappointing which disappointed me. I was excited going into this story for the classic love triangle that the blurb described. The reality was not exciting. Insta-love is the perfect term to describe the growing relationships between Vika, Nikolai and Pasha who go from strangers to daydreaming fools. Their love was addictive to read in the way that all YA love stories are but from a reviewer’s point of view it was simply false and cheap.
Let’s finish by talking about the best bits because it’s always fun to be positive. The world Skye creates is gushing with vivid detail. From the streets of St Petersburg to little Ovichin Island everything she writes feels real. Her books are portals to other worlds. The magic system in The Crown’s Game was simple and sleek. It was explainable enough for anyone to understand and some of the gorgeous scenes that involved magic felt so real I could touch it. The plot was actually incredible and in itself beautifully original but I won’t talk about that because then I’d been spoiling!
I give this book 3.7 stars out of 5 and should you read it? Probably, if you like the sound of it. It was informative and addictive but it’s arc was dull and the love was nothing original.
I hope you enjoyed my review!
Here’s some fanart I did of Vika when I was picturing her hair at Pasha’s birthday ball.
Side note: I drew Vika as a person of colour for a reason. Black people are so under-represented in YA so I thought it was important to create a Vika that was from a different ethnic background even though it’s completely culturally and historically inaccurate.
Keep on reading!
And thanks again Beth!