Vika is still coming to terms with her new position as the Imperial Enchanter and what that role now entails, Nikolai though he has escaped death is trapped in his dream world as a shadow and is trying to find a way back to reality and Pasha is struggling with the decisions he has made that has led them all to this moment.
Once again I found Pasha to be totally out of touch. He wallows in self pity after forcing the end of the game thus resulting in Nikolai’s death. He knew one of them wouldn’t survive and now he wants to mourn Nik but still try and pursue Vika after everything that happened. He repeatedly blows off all his responsibilities to go and get drunk and his sister has to step up and make all the decisions. I never really trusted Yuliana, for some reason I thought she would end up backstabbing Pasha and would try to take the crown for herself. I like that she proved me wrong and supported and maintained her loyalty to her brother.
Vika really showed her tenacity in this book with her refusal to fully comply with Pasha and Yuliana’s orders. The gold cuff that enforces her oath was a surprising obstacle that forced Vika to really think outside of the box to try and circumvent some of the more terrible orders Yuliana metes out. Though she always maintains her loyalty to the crown I appreciated how much she does to try and save Nikolai and doesn’t dismiss their history.
Nikolai’s character definitely experiences a monumental character shift. I was so glad that he didn’t die and I thought it was interesting how he became a shadow and the use of energy to bring him back to the world. I thought it was a nice tie back to his mother and the way she was able to escape death as well. I can’t say I enjoyed this new side of Nikolai after his is given his mother’s energy however; it was entertaining as it made him quite unpredictable.
The tone of the book was definitely a lot darker that the previous book which I appreciated. It showed a progression of the characters and added a layer of urgency to the plot. There is something about Russian settings and the atmosphere that just seem so magical and the traditional lore that makes an appearance raises the level of authenticity. The pacing increased progressively which kept me highly engaged throughout the course of the storyline and the ending even though it was a little anticlimactic gave me all the feels!
⭐️4/5 stars Magical, surprising & highly entertaining!