No. No. And let me think, NO! This is not how I expected this review to be going at all. I was so excited for this book.
“For the winner of the game, there would be unimaginable power.
For the defeated, desolate oblivion.
The Crown’s Game was not one to lose.”
Funny because it seemed to me that Nikolai and Vika’s resolve to win the game lasted for all of two seconds!
The Crown’s Game is set in a fantastical Imperial Russia and is full of
epic magic sequences in a Hunger Games style duel to the death, ball gowns and boring masquerades, intrigue and romance.
Now kindly read that sentence again, and completely ignore the parts struck out, please.
The premise of this book promised so much and did not deliver. There’s no peril or risk. I’m completely underwhelmed. While I expected some instalove and love triangles, this was just nonsensical, love confusion.
Before we even got to that part though, the whole book started off lackluster. The exposition was painful, characters arbitrarily contradicted themselves, and info dumping abounded. The dialogue was stiff and unnatural throughout the book. Take this paragraph for example:
“But I can’t let you leave without this: I have said it before, and now I say it again-I love you. I have loved you before I knew of your magic, Nikolai, and I have loved you ever since. And I will continue to love you, no matter what you choose to do.”
My chest aches in pain typing that out.
When we got to the romance, it completely lacked any angst. Secondary characters were thrown in the mix to create “tension,” when in reality, it’s obvious they have no chance. Pasha finally added some intensity towards the end of the book, but it had nothing to do with being gooey eyed, and then Vika and Nikolai had to ruin it.
Furthermore, for having a degree in Russian Studies from Stanford, the author paints a pretty westernized and Americanized picture of Russian culture. This bothers me because the average American’s viewpoint of Russia is already so skewed. I was willing to overlook inaccuracies in the Grisha Trilogy since the universe is Russian-inspired, not Russia itself. But when a person is claiming to portray Russian culture and history, I’m expecting some accuracy beyond what I could find on a Wikipedia page, not characters getting drunk on kvass (which is not alcoholic, by the way). The authoress has clearly not spent extensive time in Russia with Russians, or has done a poor job of showing it. The book, in my opinion, does not capture the spirit of Russia at all and does Russians a disservice. This is probably not the author’s intent at all, but it leads me to believe that her knowledge of Russia is superficial at best.
I’m sure that will come back to bite me when I write my own Russian fantasy novel.
I feel bad for this review because I cannot think of anything I like about this book. In all honestly, if there’s a sequel I will likely read it because right now I dislike this this book so much that I’m loving hating on it.
4 thoughts on “The Crown’s Game by Evelyn Skye”
I’m so disappointed ! I was looking forward to this, too, and so far I’ve seen only negative reviews and one that basically sad, “eh, it wasn’t great, but it was alright.” So I’m probably going to put my plans to read it on hold.
Even worse, people all seem to have new and different complaints! I’ve definitely seen reviews say it was unoriginal and too derivative of either The Grisha books or The Night Circus. You’re the first who’s said anything about the Russian culture. (Maybe the other readers aren’t very familiar with Russia.) I’m really bummed no one seems to be loving this book, though.
LikeLiked by 1 person
I feel you. All except one reviewer that I followed disliked it. I just had such high hopes! Sounds like you did too 😦
I lived a year in Russia and then 6 months in Lithuania right on the border, so I probably have an advantage in that area lol
LikeLiked by 1 person
I’m reading this right this moment – okay, not literally – and I must say I’m not in love with it. I don’t like the writing and the weird, comes-out-of-nowhere magic, but the characters are fun so far (I’m 30 pages in) so we’ll see I guess. Great review, though!! 🙂
I actually wanted to read this one, even though I’ve not been reading much YA lately, but it seems to be getting so many negative reviews. How disappointing.