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.