I've been waiting for this since I finished the first book in August, and I couldn't put it down.
This book was well paced, tightly written. The exposition was just enough to not be too much.
There's romance, drama, and political intrigue (everything I love in a novel).
AND IT'S SET IN VICTORIAN RUSSIA WITH MAGIC. GUYS THIS IS LITERALLY EVERYTHING I'VE EVER WANTED.
What I especially liked about this book was that the magic and enchanting get darker than in the Crown's Game. In the Crown's Game, the world building shows magic as a beautiful force, where here it shows it's power as a force to be reckoned with and respected.
The characters were everything I remembered them being.
They were everything I fell in love with all over again, even though I will always and forever be #TeamPasha, no matter how many stupid decisions he makes. He's a boy thrown into a position of power after losing both of his parents and seemingly losing his best friend. He's in love with a girl who doesn't love him back and is bound to his servitude. His sister is power thirsty and manipulative and it influences his decisions until the bitter end when his character arc is finally satisfied.
The poor boy just needs a blanket and some warm cocoa by the fire while receiving lots and lots of cuddles.
Especially after all that he goes through in THIS instalment.
The plot was well executed, especially Nikolai's. It made me hate dramatic irony a lot more than I already do, though. I honestly think that he had the best character arc throughout the two books, and I think that his plot was the most well-thought out. I really enjoyed it, even though there were points where I just wanted to scream at how stupid he was being, then I remembered that his stupidity wasn't his fault.
All of the characters had a lot to come to grips with and figure out how to balance, and I think Evelyn Skye did a really great job weaving it through the novel. I think I would have liked a little bit more on Yuliana helping Pasha prove his legitimacy, but all in all that was just a side note anyway.
The only reason I'm giving it a 4/5 is because there was a couple of little things that didn't seem like they would quite fit with the characters. As a sequel, it really holds up to it's predecessor and that always makes me super happy.
GUYS I JUST REALLY LOVE THESE BOOKS AND YOU SHOULD READ THEM RIGHT NOW.