Hello everyone!

I am here with another book review, today I am reviewing The Crown's Game by Evelyn Skye. Thanks so much to HarperCollins Canada for sending an ARC of this book to me for an honest review. As always, all opinions are my own.

So the synopsis of this book doesn't really go to into detail of what it will be like, it just kind of makes it sound like a bunch of other books that are a little bit similar, and while I get that is to get more people to read the book, I think it does a great disservice to the book and the author.

This book is so rich in Russian, I want to say mythology, and culture, it really was enchanting. Before I get too far into the review, I want to talk about some of the similarities to other books, because that seems to be a bit of an issue for a lot of people. Personally, I felt some parallels to Shadow and Bone, both in terms of the like calls to like and Russian aspects, as well as Throne of Glass regarding the 'game' and sort-of-but-not-really love triangle elements with the prince and the best friend.

I do also want to touch on a few other things, because reading over some other reviews, I think it needs to be addressed. I would not consider this book historical fiction. Yes, it takes place in a time before the author was born, 1820s, but it is not historically accurate. Therefore, I would consider it a fantasy novel, set in a country called Russia, similar to 'real' Russia, but not HISTORICALLY accurate to Russia. People are slamming this book because of nit-picky little things that don't really effect the story. Also, I didn't really find it insta-lovey. They develop feelings early on, but I think the reason they don't all out murder each other in the first 15 seconds of meeting is because they are semi-decent human beings, not madly in love. The characters each have 5 rounds to impress the tsar and eliminate the opponent. Notice how I mentioned IMPRESS THE TSAR. I kind of feel like automatically wiping out the competition right away doesn't really impress anyone. So the tactics they use each round aren't really deadly, so what? It's not all about killing the opponent.

While there are some similarities, this book does stand on it's own. I found the writing style was very entrancing, even in some of the slower parts, I still wanted to keep reading. I also really loved the characters of the book. Especially Nikolai and Vika. Nikolai is an orphan who fought his way to the top, even with the odds stacked against him. I enjoyed his and Pavel "Pasha"'s friendship, it was never political, it was just two boys who needed one another. I think Vika was my favourite character, she deals with so much in the book, and she is such a strong female lead. I know we are getting a lot of those lately, the good ones tend to get lost in the shuffle. But truly, even in her emotions, Vika puts everything into her decisions.

I do also want to talk briefly about the pacing and layout of this book, because it is pretty much the one aspect that, unfortunately, didn't come up to my expectations and was the reason I gave this book 4 stars instead of 5. I just found that the first third or so a little too slow. There was some backstory to cover, I get that, but I just thought that not much was happening in terms of the game. However, things did start to pick up, and by the halfway point, I was hooked. In a 400 page book though, I'm not sure it should take me 150-175 to get into it.

I will say that for a debut, this is a pretty spectacular story. Skye was able to set up a whole world filled with magic, and have it be exciting and full of twists, all in one book. I know that there is going to be at least another book, maybe more, and I am very excited about those to come. The deaths that occur in this book are insane, and I am almost afraid to say, Skye may prove to be a little like George R.R. Martin in the sense that no character is safe from death.

The ending of this book is not at all what I was expecting. I'm still a little confused as to what happened, if things are real or not, but let me just say, this book does not end like The Hunger Games.