By Day Leitao
Publisher: Sparkly Wave
Print Length: 256 pages
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Release Date: October 15, 2020
Special thanks to Sparkly Wave for providing me with an ARC.
Available for pre-order on Amazon.
One prince wants her out.
Another wants her as a pawn.
Someone wants her dead.
Zora wants to win the cup and tell them all to screw themselves.
Yes, 17-year-old Zora cheated her way into the Royal Games, but it was for a very good reason. Her ex-boyfriend thought she couldn’t attain glory on her own. Just because she was a girl. And he was the real cheater. So she took his place.
Now she’s competing for the legendary Blood Cup, representing the Dark Valley. It’s her chance to prove her worth and bring glory for her people. If she wins, of course.
But winning is far from easy. The younger prince thinks she’s a fragile damsel who doesn’t belong in the competition. Determined to eliminate her at all costs, he’s stacking the challenges against her. Zora hates him, hates him, hates him, and will do anything to prove him wrong.
The older prince is helping her, but the cost is getting Zora entangled in dangerous flirting games. Flirting, the last thing she wanted.
And then there’s someone trying to kill her. (Goodreads)
If you haven’t noticed by now, I’m a sucker for fantasy that promises a strong female protagonist, and this book delivered. Other than a propensity to randomly cry, Zora is a competent woman. And while her motivation is not as noble as that of other female protagonists, it is a legitimate one. After all, nothing is more dangerous than I woman scorned.
I enjoyed the book well enough to read it through and to have an interest in a sequel, but it’s evident that this book has much more potential than what was delivered. The plot is solid, but the world wasn’t. We are introduced to a magic system that is never explained and the world with rules and laws that seem arbitrary. As a result, certain stakes just don’t hold the weight that they could.
The major downfall of this book is over-simple writing. The writing is not that of a final book, not even a second draft really. There are many scenes that would benefit from being drawn out that just aren’t and at times the writing just seems incomplete. It’s a quick read as a result, which isn’t necessarily bad, but it’s just missing something.
I enjoyed the book, I’m interested to see more. I feel like first books in YA fantasy series are allowed an amount of leeway for the author to focus on what they think is the most important thing to set up, in this case, that was the characters and plot. I’m open to a sequel in the hopes that it fleshes out this world more because there is definitely great potential.