The Crown’s Game by Evelyn Skye | Book Review

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

The Crown’s Game by Evelyn Skye | Book ReviewThe Crown's Game by Evelyn Skye
Series: The Crown's Game #1
Published by HarperCollins on May 17th 2016
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy & Magic, Love & Romance, Action & Adventure, General
Pages: 416
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon

"Gorgeous and richly imagined."—Sara Raasch, New York Times bestselling author of the Snow Like Ashes series
"Teeming with hidden magic and fiery romance."—Sabaa Tahir, New York Times bestselling author of An Ember in the Ashes
Perfect for fans of Shadow and Bone and Red Queen, The Crown’s Game is a thrilling and atmospheric historical fantasy set in Imperial Russia about two teenagers who must compete for the right to become the Imperial Enchanter—or die in the process—from debut author Evelyn Skye.
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.
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.

The Crown’s Game by Evelyn Skye was one of my most anticipated reads for 2016. I should probably confess that I love Russian inspired stories and have a soft spot for Slavic literature. With the promise of magic, romance, and high stakes – I was SUPER EAGER to finally pick up The Crown’s Game, crack the spine open a little bit, sip my coffee and get down to business with the rumors in St. Petersburg and all that. (The setting is St. Petersburg so like the entire book I was singing HAVE YOU HEARD THERE’S A RUMOR IN ST. PETERSBURG?! I am that person always.)

So, The Crown’s Game is about two enchanters named Vika and Nikolai who live in Imperial Russia. Vika lives on Ovchinin Island with her father, Sergei and leads a quiet life where she practices her magic and works to get stronger in hopes of one day becoming the Imperial Enchanter (I could be wrong on the official title). Meanwhile, Nikolai lives in St. Petersburg with his adoptive mentor, Galina, who is not a very nice person. Nikolai is challenged by Galina every single day to do harder and harder things with his magic.

Then, the separate lives of Nikolai and Vika converge when the Tsar calls a round of The Crown’s Game which causes the two enchanters to compete with each other for the chance to live and become Imperial Enchanter — as there can only be one Enchanter. More than one and the magic of Russia is diluted. The competition essentially is like the one in The Night Circus a little bit, only instead of the Circus for a stage to show off the magic – it is St. Petersburg and the birthday of Pasha, the tsesarevich, that is the battle arena chosen by the tsar.

The two main characters and competitors in Evelyn Skye’s The Crown’s Game made this kind of a hard read. I mean, usually I am able to pick one person who I want to win kind of easily. This time though, I wanted both to win. I found myself obsessed with both Vika and Nikolai. I loved how Vika’s magic was more elemental and nature based. I loved her love of Sergei, her father. I loved her determination to win. She carries herself in a manner that I really admire.

As for Nikolai, I wanted him to win too. You would think he would be a dick because of how Galina raised him. But, the thing is, he’s not. He has had a hard lot — orphaned on the steppe and then looked at with suspicion by his people because of his affinity for magic. PLUS! He’s such a good friend to Pasha and kind to the help. Also, his magic is a bit more intricate and mechanical and it’s a wonder to behold. I suppose I liked Nikolai so much because he’s a good person.

OF COURSE THERE IS A ROMANCE. But, it’s very much of the touch and electricity and then avoid talking about it for 100 pages sort. The Crown’s Game is definitely lacking in kissing. It more than makes up for the lack of on page hook ups with TENSION ON TENSION ON TENSION. So, as a reader, I was okay with this. And also, a bit of a doomed romance and sort of a triangle but not at all really. Overall, I really enjoyed the romance but I was reading this book more for the magic and the world building.

The true skill of Evelyn Skye when it comes to The Crown’s Game is how she’s about to construct this superb magic system where it seems each country has a well of magic that only the Imperial Enchanter can access to protect the country. There’s all these rules to the Crown’s Game. There’s also the different types of magic which is great too. I also loved how detailed the setting was. I felt like I could picture everything so easily while reading this book. Her words do a superb job of painting the picture and then letting your imagination go wild each time Vika and Nikolai take their turns in The Crown’s Game.

I absolutely loved The Crown’s Game by Evelyn Skye. Like, get me the next book because I need to know what happens. Sure, this book may take you awhile to read — it took me about six days to get through but I had other non-reader things going on and some longer than expected days. I think the true magic is how it held my attention. This book is wonderfully written and evokes Imperial Russia and magic and what I would love historical fantasy to be with every single page.

Other reviews of The Crown’s Game by Evelyn Skye:

Midnight Book Girl – “made for a very good read

Eater of Books – “I actually enjoyed it more than I thought I would

The Best Books Ever – “This book was unlike any other that I have experienced

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April is in her 30s and created Good Books And Good Wine. She works for a non-profit. April always has a book on hand. In her free time she can be found binge watching The Office with her husband and toddler, spending way too much time on Pinterest or exploring her neighborhood.
About April (Books&Wine)

April is in her 30s and created Good Books And Good Wine. She works for a non-profit. April always has a book on hand. In her free time she can be found binge watching The Office with her husband and toddler, spending way too much time on Pinterest or exploring her neighborhood.


  1. Love that you included an Anastasia reference in your review! haha

    Very glad to see that you loved this one. Feel like I might go a tiny bit crazy with the amount of tension you mentioned, but I still might have to give it a shot. Thanks for the review 🙂

  2. I loved The Crown’s Game! It was just SO fun to read, and the characters were all too easy to root for and fall in love with. I thought the author did an excellent job integrating history and heart and humor and imagination into her tale, and I honestly cannot wait for the second one!

  3. Aw. Lovely review April 🙂 So glad you ended up liking this book so very much. <3 So many have loved it. And then there was me, who had to DNF it, because I hated it so much, lol 😀 But it do look so, so gorgeous. <3 Sad that I did not like it. But so glad you weren't disappointed like me 🙂 Thank you for sharing. <3