ARC Review: The Crown's Game by Evelyn Skye

4/5 Stars 
Published by Balzer + Bray
Published May 17th, 2016

Synopsis: 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.

This was one heck of a story, lemme tell you. In her debut novel, Evelyn Skye brings us on a magical journey through Russian culture, which was perfected down to the tiniest detail. I love stories that are set in Russia or are influenced by Russian culture, so to have an entire book that was just Russia was so awesome. The way magic was weaved into this story was actually really beautiful. Her writing made seemingly natural/ordinary objects appear as magical and enchanted as what was actually supposed to be spawned from magic. Meaning, in simpler terms, that Evelyn Skye's writing style was basically conjured up by magic - it was flawless, man, the detail in everything was impeccable. 

really loved these characters. I didn't really notice how much of a bond I developed between myself and these characters, until it was the final few chapters and I was crying. Vika and Nikolai are my little enchanters, and I love them with my entire heart. Vika is such a fiercely independent, strong, and significant woman, it's impossible to not like her. Along with this, she is so funny - responding to the boys with puns and sarcastic wit. She, along with Nikolai, deals with a lot of internal conflict throughout this story, which really affects her character development in a game changing way. Nikolai is kinda nerdy, quiet, and humble in a way that's such a contrast to Vika (which makes them perfect for each other, eep). It was certainly interesting from the first chapter to see how these characters were brought up differently in terms of their magical abilities, which really pegged them against each other. Along with them comes Pasha, the heir to the throne whom spends his time having fun and being cheeky, and an overall lad. 

There were a lot things that happened in this book that had my mouth kinda hanging open idly for flies to land in. I was fascinated by the magic, the development of relationships, the competition aspects, and the little moments where the characters took the time to not focus on their individual hardships. If there was one problem that I had with this book (hence the 4 stars), it was that it felt kind of slow to me, and then when it started to pick up, the book ended. I was craving so much more from this world and from these enchanters - I wanted more history and spells and just magic. When I read the last page, I kept flipping and flipping as if I was missing something, but all I could find were the author's notes and acknowledgments, and those blank, empty, sad pages. So yeah, more please.

The Crown's Game is definitely a debut book you should watch out for. I was thoroughly impressed by how mature the writing was, and cannot wait to see how Evelyn Skye's writing grows between now and the next book. Along with this, my mind is already going crazy at the idea of what could happen in the second book! The possibilities are endless, especially with that ending - ugh, it was to die for. I'm hoping the next book is just as magical, if not more magical, and I hope it knocks the socks off of everyone, because The Crown's Game is a game changer for the YA-verse in 2016.