Summary from Goodreads:
Vika Andreyev 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.
I decided to finally read this new fantasy novel (even though I have way too many books to read, lol) and I'm glad that I did because I loved it.
I've never been to Russia so I was bit lost when the author described it but it did make me feel like I was there. I loved how realistic the world was because it made the magic seem like it could happen.
It heavily reminded me of The Night Circus because of the enchanters battle but it did not subtract from the overall story.
Besides the beautiful descriptions of the magic (the benches, glass pumpkin, etc) my favorite aspect of the novel was the characters, Vika and Nikolai. I was able to connect with them and it was a difficult read because I wanted both of them to win. The side characters were great as well and helped build the suspense.
I loved how the novel was a mix of genres, romance, fantasy, and even horror, and I will be checking out the next novel.
I recommend checking out this series for the world building and the characters.
5 Stars out of 5