Awakening to find herself trapped in a strange tower, Izaveta knows she must find her way back to the Tóurensi palace and claim the throne. But even with an unexpected ally’s help, she worries she might not be able to get news of her survival to her sister and escape this frozen land.
Back at home, Asya enlists Nikov’s help to prove Izaveta is still alive, even as she finds herself forced to navigate the political world she always sought to avoid to save her queendom, her loved ones, and herself.
But as the sisters work independently to reunite, a dangerous force lies in wait, trying to regain power in order to overthrow the monarchy…
With a doozy of a cliffhanger at the end of the first book, I was anxious to see what was next for these twin sisters/princesses.
Asya believes her sister Izaveta is dead, and she’s floundering without her. Izaveta understands court politics and manipulates people like a master chess player, but Asya is entirely out of her depth. As the Firebird, she’s required to collect payment from magic casters to maintain balance in the realm – the rules are clear-cut and something she understands. But because of her actions at the end of the first book, she’s now cast as a criminal, and the girl she loves is missing. With Izaveta presumed dead, the throne sits empty, and someone must be crowned. Among power struggles, betrayals, lies, imprisonments, and dark magic, it’s unclear who will succeed.
I honestly didn’t know how these two would find their way back to each other, reclaim the throne, or even survive, and their circumstances look grim for most of the story. Selfish decisions and mistakes are made, and every time they gain ground, the twins are outsmarted by a very clever villain. When long-kept secrets are revealed, their paths become very murky.
I’m a fan of morally gray characters, but I had a love/hate relationship with Iza and Asya on and off throughout the book. Each makes unpopular choices at certain points, but there’s also admirable character growth in both of them throughout the course of the story. When the chips are down, their sister/twin bond only grows stronger, and they’ll always choose each other over everyone else.
These books are based on the Russian folktale The Firebird, so fans of fairy tales or folklore may find the series appealing. This Cursed Crown is a satisfying conclusion to an exciting duology filled with magic, power quests, and deception.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.