The Crown's game by Evelyn Skye

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Balzer and Bray, 2016. ISBN 9780062560605
Highly recommended. Similar in nature to Erin Morginstien's The Night Circus, The Crown's Game follows a competition between two enchanters in which only one may survive. I would highly recommend to anyone interested in fantasy or historic fiction.
Vika has been raised to become the Imperial Enchanter, her entire life has been devoted to that goal. But little does she know there is another enchanter who has also been raised not only to become the Imperial Enchanter, but to win the Crown's Game. The borders are under threat and there is a whisper about a rebellion, Yuliana, the Tsar's daughter, convinces the Tsar that the time is ripe for a new Imperial Enchanter and entreats him to start the Crown's Game to protect her brother, the Tsaravitch. Pasha, the Tsaravitch, is soft and unlike his father the Tsar. He defies the royal pomp and as a result his best friend is an orphan, Nikolai. But Nikolai is more than just an orphan - he has been brought up an enchanter, and thrust unwillingly into a game where he must kill or be killed. Things only grow more intense as a love triangle emerges between Vika and the two boys and they are all forced to think on who must die. There is no way out of this game.
Set in imperial Russia during the years 1801-1825, the story focuses on Alexander I and his Tsarina Elizabeth's two fictional children Pasha and Yuliana. By adding layers of mysticism, Skye produces a wonderfully rich fantasy filled with magic, drama, and Russian curses.
Kayla Gaskell (University student)