The Crown’s Game by Evelyn Skye
I am so happy I read this book. It was everything I was hoping to be, and I am feeling sad yet satisfied with it as a whole. Sad because of the ending, but I will not reveal any spoilers! Evelyn Skye brings Russian culture into a whole new light, and I think she did a fantastic job.
I’m not going to lie, the synopsis for this book made it seem to be another Hunger Games cop out, so I was fairly skeptical as to how it would play out. I have to say I was very wrong. The only similarities to the Hunger Games was the love triangle and the need for a duel to the death. That’s all I am going to say for now. Now onto the real meat and potatoes of this review.
Skye’s writing really worked for this book. When writing on the topic of magic, I think a lot of writers feel the need to crowd the book with flowery words, jumbled sentences and and lengthy, convoluted descriptions to provide that old, ancient feel of magic. Skye not only, doesn’t do all of the wordy stuff, but uses a more simplistic style to really portray what is happening. While some descriptions are often too simplistic at times, her varying lengths of sentences, descriptions, and paragraphs really makes it work. She does that proper writing thing that we’re told to do in our writing classes and lectures. I also really enjoyed the varying perspectives, and the third person omniscient really worked for the story. It allowed to see the thoughts of both Vika and Nikolai, which was extremely important in getting this story right. Overall, I was happy with Skye’s writing. While it was nothing difficult, she made it really add to the story which I think is truly what matters.
Okay, I will admit: I was not too happy when I found out there was a love triangle (or square? There was like 4 people involved in this) and I was really worried it would diminish the story. I know love triangles are really common conflicts for characters to overcome, and some of my favourite series have love triangles of their own, but I am just really sick of it being the same stereotypes over and over: girl meets boy. She is bold and fierce. He is dark and brooding and mysterious. She is unlike any other girl he has ever met. Girl meets other boy. He is light and gold and good. He instantly falls for said girl. Chaos ensues. I don’t know, maybe I have just read too many of the same books but this all feels so tired to me.
Anyways, so there was a love triangle in this book yes. The only redeeming part of that to me is that I did not find it to be the main focus of the book. While it helped engineer major plot points, it was not the be all or end all of the plot. The goal of the plot was not for Vika to decide which boy to love (she doesn’t really get a choice, in all honesty, because of what happens but I don’t want to ruin anything), the goal was to decide the winner of the Crown’s Game. And that is what it did. Overall I felt like there were some events that could have been taken out, but the plot as a whole felt comfortable; not too jam packed and not missing holes. Skye even managed to pull off some really successful plot twists, and I was like “WHAT??? NO!!” the whole time. Can I just say that I also loved the magic part? I thought it was really cool, and the whole premise of this story was very different than books I have read before. All in all 10/10 to Skye for writing a successful plot.
Characters: I’m only going to talk about the three main characters, because if I talk about the minor ones I will end up on a rant about how I hate Yuliana and we don’t want that.
Vika: I loved Vika. For a – (I don’t even remember how old she is – 16? I think it’s 16) for a 16 year old girl, she is able to do hell of a lot more than I could at 16. Some of it is the magic, that’s given, but she even seems more mature than normal at her age, and I think that’s why I connected with her so well. I’ve always felt more mature than I actually am. I also loved Vika as she felt real. She acted exactly how a 16 year old girl in her situations would, even if she had been training for the Crown’s Game for 10 years. There was character development, albeit it not too crazy, but I was happy to see Vika mature over the course of the book. Overall I was impressed with her character.
Nikolai: I still have mixed feelings about Nikolai. Maybe because he fits that stupid stereotype of the dark, brooding, mysterious boy and I am so feckin sick of it. I liked to see his character unravel more rather than develop; it was an interesting concept. He did have some character development, but I will just say this now: I was not cheering for him in the love triangle. He fell in love before he even talked to Vika. It’s so stereotypical, all I thought was NOPE. I won’t blame Evelyn Skye for this; it did allow her plot to develop, and for the story to work. I just was not cheering for Nikolai.
Pasha: My god, I love Pasha with a passion (see what I did there). He was the “golden boy” of the love triangle, and I just really loved him. I thought he was adorable – a rich boy of royalty who enjoys life much more in disguise as a peasant, and doesn’t want to abide by his royal duties. Something about him was just so loveable (maybe I’m just really sick of the dark bad boy thing) but I thought he was a right hoot. He did have character development, and for a 17 year old boy it was fairly dark. I was quite shocked when he matured and the plot took a turn. I won’t say anymore so not to ruin anything. I really wanted him to win the battle of the love triangle. He deserves some love and to feel adequate. Poor boy never felt like he was up to standards. I love Pasha and I want him to have all the love.
Overall, I’m really happy I read this book, and for my friend’s bookclub no less! I definitely think it is worth a read if you love magic and fantasy, and don’t mind stereotypical love triangles. I let it slide in this book because I loved it so much, but if you hate a LT then don’t read this because you will probably get mad. Overall, great book and props to Evelyn Skye.