Genre: Ya | fantasy | historical
Series: The Crown’s Game #1
Goodreads rating: 3.79
My rating: 2.5
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 (Goodreads).
This book was very, very hyped and I can totally see why: gorgeous cover and intriguing premise. Sadly I was a bit underwhelmed. The Game wasn’t really that exciting. In the beginning I liked that they were both anxious because they thought the other could kill them any moment, but that tension was gone pretty soon. Not to mention that going in I just didn’t expect them to make houses look pretty and create magical fountains. I expected something more intense. Not necessarily bloody, but their lives were at stake – the loser was going to die. I didn’t really feel those stakes while reading the book.
The characters were pretty flat and I didn’t feel any attachment to them at all. I did like Vika’s relationship with Ludmila (a woman she had known all her life and who moves in with her the moment the Game begins and her father is banished, so that she doesn’t have to be alone) and Nikolai and Pasha’s friendship definitely had potential. Spoiler: when their friendship fell apart, it didn’t really hurt, because I wasn’t invested in their friendship. And don’t get me started on the ‘romance’. Instalust, instalove and a love triangle. All the love-related tropes I pretty much despise (love triangles not so much if they’re done right and don’t take over the plot. Which in this case I felt it really did).
While the writing wasn’t bad and I did like the descriptions, my biggest problem with it was, was the lack of emotions. I didn’t feel any attachment to any of the characters, I didn’t feel their emotions, I didn’t sympathise with them, I didn’t care for the villain, I just didn’t care about anything.
I also really wanted to know more about the magic system. I mean, The Game is all about their magical skill, yet I have no idea how their magic works.
So you’re probably wondering: Michelle, why did you give it three stars? It doesn’t sound like you enjoyed it. Okay so here’s why I gave it three stars (though honestly I’m still leaning towards 2,5 stars): I liked the concept and I love the world: it takes place in 19th century Russia except with magic. History + magic = yes please. And while not much happened, I wasn’t necessarily bored until the ending and hey I did finish most of it in one day, so I don’t feel like it was necessarily a 2-star read if that makes sense. Speaking of the ending though, there were like roughly ten pages left when they introduced some action. I actually thought that it was going to end on a cliffhanger right before that action took place, because how could that take only ten pages or so? But nope, that final (more like finally) action scene was very underwhelming and anti climatic. I couldn’t care less.
So have you read this and how did you feel about it? Honestly I have such mixed feelings about it and I just hope that the sequel will be better. If I do pick it up (right now I’m leaning towards it, but from experience I know that it’s very likely that my interest in it and motivation to read it will decrease over the next few months) I’ll definitely wait for the paperback to come out. It’s such a shame because I was really excited for this book. If you haven’t read this yet, any hyped books you read lately that disappointed you? Let me know in the comments!