Book Review – The Crown’s Game by Evelyn Skye

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.”

Book Review

If you want a young adult fantasy that is light and fluffy with lots of beautiful descriptions of food and clothes and 19th century Russia then look no further. The Crown’s Game has royalty and magic and masked balls and beautiful dresses and love triangles. Which would be perfect except it completely lacks any of the tension, drama and intrigue that the synopsis promises.

Any slight mystery or intrigue or question the reader would wonder about or ask was resolved within a few paragraphs of the issue being raised. I always knew what was happening next – nothing was left to be resolved later. This made the book at times boring and much of the drama was forced unnecessarily. There was NO REASON at all for Sergei to do what he did. Nikolai even after having it CLEARLY explained to him that one of them will die at the end of the game, no matter what happens, still takes it upon himself to try and murder his opponent from the beginning. Pasha’s only reason for existing seem to be so he can see Vika ONE TIME, fall in love and create the not even remotely needed love triangle. The love at first sight thing to me is tired, but The Crown’s Game takes it to extremes to force a love triangle that has no reason to exist. Who would choose Pasha over Nikolai anyway?! It’s not even a difficult choice and like everything in The Crown’s Game this issue is neatly resolved.

Also side note but was still annoying. The book focuses on magic and says that the enchanters are able to draw on only Russian magic. Each country has it’s own “well” let’s say, so you can’t steal it from other countries cos it wouldn’t answer to you. There’s a limited amount of magic in the “well” and so there can’t be two enchanters using it up, hence why the The Crown’s Game exists. Okay makes sense. However throughout the book they mention that the magic only exists when people believe it does. So when the game commences why does NO ONE believe in magic? Everything that is done throughout the Game the general public are confused by and dismiss as trickery etc. How can magic even exist in Russia if no-one believes in it? I know its a minor detail but the public’s reactions to the game is mentioned a lot, so its one of those plot holes you are reminded of over and over.

That said I did like the twist at the end, I did like the beautiful descriptions of the city and the magic and lord I would sit on them benches all damn day. I think this book however is too light and fluffy and lacking in the conflict, tension and threat of death that was promised.

 

 

Book Review – Broken Moon by Sarah Beth Moore

Synopsis

“What if you discovered human souls are real, but about to become extinct … and you were the only one who could stop it?

Living a thousand feet above the ground in metal slums piled upon the detritus of decades, Naiya Barrigan makes a decent living culling through the wreckage of 21st century humanity and selling what she finds to the highest bidder.

But that doesn’t mean life is perfect: demonic guards stalk the streets, mothers owe their firstborn children to the authoritarian Party, and Naiya’s pregnant sister has just turned up bone-thin, childless and dead.

This disturbing incident kicks off other revelations, such as Naiya’s membership in the ancient family line that oversees the link between the mortal world and Terminus, where souls await rebirth between lives. Unfortunately, the Party has discovered this too, and soon Naiya is on the run.

For help she has only a numbers-obsessed, slightly autistic brainiac, a hulking spy from the outside and an adopted brother toward whom she feels anything but sisterly. In a city fast becoming a death trap, she must figure out how to use the newfound magic she doesn’t even want and escape the place she’s always called home.

Elements of horror, urban fantasy and theology intertwine in this fast-paced adventure, culminating in a revelation that will haunt Naiya for the rest of her life … though her journey is far from over”

Book Review

Disclaimer: I was sent an eARC by the author in exchange for an honest review.

I went into reading this book without having an idea what to expect having not read the synopsis or any other reviews before I started reading. I think this was a good thing as when you start reading it becomes clear the author has no intention of explaining anything immediately. The resulting effect for me was feeling like I was thrown into a world that the character was at home in but that I didn’t understand that well. However I do think this approach works well for a dystopian fantasy like Broken Moon. There was a lot Naiya doesn’t understand or know and so the reader has to learn with her. 

I think Naiya is a strong female lead but I think the other characters are less developed. Enoch is only mainly interesting because of how Naiya feels about him, he doesn’t really do much else. Her younger brother Pip was developed a bit more and I thought his interesting background would be included in the story, but it seems to have been just left for the time being. While I appreciate not being spoon-fed all the information I did find at time this book to be annoyingly vague. There was a lot of times when I felt information could have easily been given by characters, particularly Naiya’s adoptive father, that just wasn’t. The reasoning to me was flimsy and I don’t think it helped the plot to know so little.

As the story progressed I felt the book was dealing with a lot of different themes and I think at times this book felt disjointed. It was jarring for me to be reading about a post apocalyptic city with such a strong theological/metaphysical underpinning. There was also fantasy/magical elements with Naiya and her powers, the young adult/romance stuff between Naiya and Enoch. I would say this book was definitely unique, there was a little bit of everything, but it felt at times erratic. 

The ending for me made me was very abrupt. I thought I was going to get my questions answered but I felt like this book was building towards something and then stopped short. It was clear to me at this point the book was setting up for a sequel so leaves a lot of things unanswered. This book feels like a beginning, the author does a substantial amount of world building, but I have a feeling Broken Moon has only just scratched the surface of the story she intends to tell.