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Review: The Crown’s Fate by Evelyn Skye

Series: The Crown’s Game #2

the crown's fate -evelyn skyePerfect for fans of Shadow and Bone and Red Queen, The Crown’s Fate is the thrilling sequel to the New York Times bestselling The Crown’s Game, an atmospheric historical fantasy set in Imperial Russia.

Russia is on the brink of great change. Pasha’s coronation approaches, and Vika is now the Imperial Enchanter, but the role she once coveted may be more difficult—and dangerous—than she ever expected.

Pasha is grappling with his own problems—his legitimacy is in doubt, the girl he loves loathes him, and he believes his best friend is dead. When a challenger to the throne emerges—and with the magic in Russia growing rapidly—Pasha must do whatever it takes to keep his position and protect his kingdom.

For Nikolai, the ending of the Crown’s Game stung deeply. Although he just managed to escape death, Nikolai remains alone, a shadow hidden in a not-quite-real world of his own creation. But when he’s given a second chance at life—tied to a dark price—Nikolai must decide just how far he’s willing to go to return to the world.

With revolution on the rise, dangerous new magic rearing up, and a tsardom up for the taking, Vika, Nikolai, and Pasha must fight—or face the destruction of not only their world but also themselves.


2 Drink Me Potions


Thank you Edelweiss and HarperCollins for this copy in exchange for an honest review

**The Crown’s Fate comes out May 16, 2017**

What can I say? The Crown’s Fate didn’t do much more for me than its predecessor. But I won’t glum down this review – at least, not for its entirety.

This novel, for those of you who may have rather enjoyed The Crown’s Game, might be a decent sequel (don’t let my low rating score you yet). The gorgeous Russian setting and culture continues to be explored here in this sequel. Maybe not as much as the first novel where we’re all still getting acquainted to all that is Russian history, but it’s still present with a larger focus on historical events over the actual setting and location. There’s an unsettled atmosphere with our main characters after the events of the first book, but it only gets amplified with what happens fairly earlier on in this novel. While that may have started out more exciting, I grew pretty weary with it all rather soon.

But first, any other praises I may have. Hmm.

Well, I suppose one point for Skye was how she handled her “love triangle”. Honestly, this never was a love triangle. It was 2 guys who fell for Vika way too fast because she was “different”. She only ever loved Nikolai (sorry Pasha shippers). And for that I’m glad. She wasn’t some wishy-washy girl who couldn’t make up her darn mind about who she wanted to be with and tagged along both boys until she could decide. She at least knew herself well enough in this regard, and it made me respect her more than the apathetic feeling I had for her before. But the romance was still very much hard for me to wrap around as it didn’t feel like there was enough substance for Vika, and Nikolai for that matter, to feel so strongly for each other. Was being the only 2 magical enchanters enough of a reason to love each other so quickly?

Anything else besides these two things just didn’t impress me. The plotline that started earlier with Aizhana continued here, but it felt so anticlimactic with what happened there. Like, there should’ve been something more to her role that, I don’t know, could’ve brought the main characters closer to unite against one common enemy. But nooooo. The main antagonist in this story felt so….unimpressive. It’s not unheard of for a story to twist like this, but at the same time, I felt like Skye could’ve gone a whole other direction with this book (like maybe focus on saving Nikolai, or defeating some larger problem together).

And this pattern continues from here. The other plotline dealing more with Pasha and his fight for the crown wasn’t exciting. Period. The ensuing climax for this growing tension in his country as he was ascending the throne was short and didn’t really focus in on that element. It was just there as another component to further emphasize the main problem and antagonist of the book (which I really can’t say without ruining everything, but argghhhh was I annoyed with it).

The ending I will concede wraps things up nice enough. It’s a happy ending, no worries. Yet I’m just left unsatisfied. Things ended too quickly and problems such as the country’s feelings towards our trio of characters are pretty much summed up as “yeah, everything’s gonna be fine. we’re totally okay with them and whatever excuses they came up with, I will gobble them up as if they’re truth even though some of it sounds pretty sketchy what with the devastating aftermath”. Honestly, you’ll see what I mean if you read the ending. Just…I’d rather there’d be a 3rd book on Vika/Nikolai/Pasha if it meant doing it right.

But who knows? Skye is trying to write a 3rd book. And if she does, I hope it’ll be on new characters in this setting ’cause I’m getting way too sick of reading a plot that seems to have dried up fairly early on.

Overall Recommendation:
I’m not sure if I feel more disappointed or apathetic, but The Crown’s Fate just didn’t meet my expectations in anyway. Even with further demonstrations of Skye’s knowledge and love for Russian history and culture, the main storyline faltered in way too many places. The romance, while devoid of true love triangle madness, was too quick without driving home the real chemistry between the characters. The main story arcs were slow and resolved in a rushed manner at the end that felt so anticlimactic. I may be a bit biased as I didn’t love its predecessor, but this novel just wasn’t any better. I don’t know if I’d necessarily recommend it, but if you enjoyed The Crown’s Game, it’s still worthwhile to at least complete this series.

Review: The Crown’s Game by Evelyn Skye

Series: The Crown’s Game #1

the crown's game -evelyn skyeVika 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.


 

2.5 Drink Me Potions


The Crown’s Game delivered a beautiful setting in nineteenth century Russia that stirred my heart, but ultimately didn’t capture it with its story.

I love the whole idea of this story. A Game set in place for 2 magical enchanters to fight for the illustrious prize of Imperial Enchanter. Add into the mix bits of wonderful magic and princes , you have the makings of a novel that I would absolutely adore to read.

Now what went wrong, exactly?

It took me a long time to finish this book, clearly. And if I had to pinpoint what things really made this experience less than lovely, it would boil down to these few things.

1) The lack of connection

I liked Vika and I liked Nikolai, and I even liked Pasha although he was clearly not the ship I was cheering for in this love triangle (if one can really call it that?). But it was hard for me to really FEEL for these characters. Maybe it’s the 3rd person writing, but I’ve encountered plenty of books who write in 3rd person and still convey feeling as beautifully as first person narrative, if not even better. So I’m a little stumped how I felt so little for these characters over all. I didn’t feel shoots of pain when the cliffhanger ending took place. Just…a twinge of sadness that it had to be this way. So maybe my rating would’ve been higher if this was the only problem, something solely due to me.

2) The slownessssss of the book

For a book that has really short chapters (like honestly, some were less than a page), I dunno how it felt so dragged out. The Game took a while to get started, and the meeting of the enchanters wasn’t as quick as I thought. But then, the Game itself wasn’t as fast-paced as the synopsis might’ve suggested. How can someone take so long to make their turn? Vika and Nikolai alternate their moves by showing off their power in a way that would impress the tsar of Russia, and while they were impressive in some ways, this wasn’t the exciting feats of magic to be performed as I suppose I was hoping for. Turning a river into a display of colours and making a wardrobe that would outfit you however you wish isn’t all that exciting at the end of the day. Impressive, yes, but not exciting.

3) The lack of romance

Huh? How’s that even possible? I thought this book was on a love triangle. Oddly enough, nothing truly moves very fast on this front. True, it’s not the best timing to be falling in love what with the dangerous Game they’re playing, but it could’ve happened. And it’s not like having little romance is a bad thing. Sometimes it’s the perfect move for a novel, but this WAS NOT one of those kind of stories. Then somehow the characters “fall” for each other, and it just didn’t please me as much when the magic of their love never really came across the pages.

Sigh. I guess I can say the overall feeling was a bit of disappointment. I know other reviewers enjoyed the novel, but it wasn’t like I put very high expectations for this. I’m a little sad that the rating isn’t as high as I had hoped it, and even after a break while reading this book, it hadn’t gotten any better. When you’re feeling a little apathetic to Vika and her love life, you know that the experience isn’t gonna get so much better. The only highlight was Nikolai and the beauty of his magic and his unique backstory which unfolded in slightly surprising ways.

Overall Recommendation:
The Crown’s Game had a lot of potential going for it as a historical fantasy set in Russia. With this setting well-researched and an author who actually knows her stuff, I was disappointed with the slowness of the plot – which also had so much potential with the Game between enchanters – and the lack of connection I felt with the characters. Vika was just another strong-willed protagonist but lacked true depth to her personality. The love triangle wasn’t even fully present as the romance took a huge backseat to everything and felt more insta-love than anything. I will read its sequel, but my expectations are already wayyyyy down there.

Review: Avenged by Amy Tintera

Series: Ruined #2

avenged -amy tinteraIn the sequel to Ruined, the romance of The Selection and the epic stakes of Red Queen come together in a story of revenge, adventure, and unexpected love.

Emelina Flores has come home to Ruina. After rescuing her sister Olivia from imprisonment in rival kingdom Lera, Em and Olivia together vow to rebuild Ruina to its former glory.

But their fight has only begun. Olivia is determined to destroy everyone who acts against Ruina, but Em isn’t as sure. Ever since Em posed as Prince Casimir’s betrothed in Lera, she’s started to see another side to this war. And now that Cas has taken the throne, Em believes a truce is within reach. But Olivia suspects that Em’s romantic feelings for Cas are just coloring her judgement.

Em is determined to bring peace to her home. But when winning the war could mean betraying her family, Em faces an impossible choice between loyalty and love. Em must stay one step ahead of her enemies—and her blood—before she’s the next victim in this battle for sovereignty.


4 Drink Me Potions


**Avenged comes out May 2, 2017**

Thank you HarperCollins and Edelweiss for this copy in exchange for an honest review

Avenged continues with the level of action and intrigue that its predecessor already set. Smart, emotional with touches of romance, this sequel was no disappointment.

Picking up a little bit after where we last left off in Ruined – might I add what a cliffhanger that was, Em and Cas are separated and dealing with different difficulties. Cas’ main story arc is trying to find support as even though he’s king, his sympathies for the Ruined weren’t well received amongst his council. On top of that, his cousin Jovita is vying for his position, and it looked like she actually stood a chance. Meanwhile, Em’s with her vengeful sister Olivia and their friend Aren, trying to stop the Ruined army her sister is creating to fight against Cas’ people to destroy his kingdom.

Things are looking pretty dire for the two of them. The pacing in the plot sometimes lagged a bit in my opinion, and it also sucked that they were separated a lot of the times from each other. It was a lot nicer when they were in each other’s presence more, like in the first novel, but I guess we can’t all be choosers, now can we? The moments when they were together and had a chance for privacy were amazing. I didn’t want those moments to end. It reminded me so much of their slow burn attraction for each other, against all the odds stacked against them. But of course, they always ended too fast. At least while they lasted, it got a little steamy.

I liked that there was never any true love triangle forming in this story. By “true”, I meant that Cas and Em’s feelings were always for the other and never strayed to another (phew!). But another potential suitor who wanted to marry Em popped into this book (did NOT like him) and for a moment, I thought Cas may turn bad and look at another girl just ’cause he and Em fought. Thankfully, nothing ever really happens and feelings did not go astray, I repeat, did NOT go astray. So I’m very much thankful for that.

Emotions also flew rampant in my mind as certain characters – ahem, Olivia – drove me absolutely nuts. We got a chance to see how bloodthirsty this girl was before, but that was her just getting started. She has an addiction to bloodlust and torture. Sure, she was tortured herself and wants revenge on the people who ordered that on her, but she kills innocents. INNOCENTS! Only because she can and she needs to sate her bloodthirstiness. What was worse was trying to tempt Aren into her bloodlust as he’s almost as equally powerful in Ruined magic as she was. I’m absolutely tired of her thought process, which by the way, we get a firsthand look at since she has her own POVs. I hope she dies. I hope she gets defeated by Em somehow.

If you were rooting for another ship, well it’s started sailing a little between Aren and a friendly warrior from another kingdom. The warriors and their roles in this simmering war between Cas and Em’s kingdoms are fleshed out more in this book, and you can feel the tension increasing as kingdoms prepare for war.

Although I liked this sequel, Avenged suffered a bit from Middle Book Syndrome. Things that happen here are important and essential for the plot to progress into the conclusion, but sometimes it felt like I was always waiting for more to happen. I hope the concluding book would be absolutely amazing, but for now, I appreciate the little bits that Tintera gave me with this novel. Nonetheless, the ending was another cliffhanger (though not as much of one as the previous novel) that only leaves me more eager for the last book to come out…in a year.

Overall Recommendation:
Avenged was action-packed with tidbits of romance as our familiar protagonists find their kingdoms at odds after the events of the previous book. Em and Cas are still as wonderful as I remember, and their little romantic interludes together were so sweet (and hot). I wished there were more, but this book really sets the stage for the tense conclusion with war potentially looming in the distance. Other familiar, but newer characters, were developed here and occasionally I wanted to strangle one or two, but all’s good in the end. Although it hits the Middle Book Syndrome a little harder than I had hoped, this sequel is still very much worthwhile to read for fans of Ruined.