February 21, 2018

The Night Circus vs. The Crown's Game | Book Battles

Welcome to Book Battles, a feature here at Crazy for YA where I put two books in the battle ring and have them fight it out to see which one is better. See all of my previous bloody, literary battles.

Today's fight is between The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern and The Crown's Game by Evelyn Skye. Even though the two books are aimed for different age ranges, their drastic differences really contribute to the same plot--a competition between two magicians that may or may not fall in love. The Night Circus was marketed more toward adults than young adults (but I don't tend to put too much stock in age ranges when it comes to YA vs. adult, just read whatever you want). 

With different age ranges, historical time periods, and casts of characters, it may seem like The Night Circus and The Crown's Fate don't have much in common. Despite the fact that the more intricate details do not exactly match, the core plot at the middle of the story is the same--a competition between two magicians with hate to love romance. 

My task today is to act as a referee between these two books to see which one mastered the story line better. 

The Competitiors

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
The Night CircusThe circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. Within the black-and-white striped canvas tents is an utterly unique experience full of breathtaking amazements. It is called Le Cirque des RĂªves, and it is only open at night. 
But behind the scenes, a fierce competition is underway - a duel between two young magicians, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood expressly for this purpose by their mercurial instructors. Unbeknownst to them, this is a game in which only one can be left standing, and the circus is but the stage for a remarkable battle of imagination and will. Despite themselves, however, Celia and Marco tumble headfirst into love - a deep, magical love that makes the lights flicker and the room grow warm whenever they so much as brush hands. 
True love or not, the game must play out, and the fates of everyone involved, from the cast of extraordinary circus performers to the patrons, hang in the balance, suspended as precariously as the daring acrobats overhead. 
Written in rich, seductive prose, this spell-casting novel is a feast for the senses and the heart.  

The Crown's Game (The Crown's Game, #1)The Crown's Game by Evelyn Skye

Vika Andreyeva can summon the snow and turn ash into gold. Nikolai Karimov can see through walls and conjure bridges out of thin air. They are enchanters—the only two in Russia—and with the Ottoman Empire and the Kazakhs threatening, the tsar needs a powerful enchanter by his side.
And so he initiates the Crown’s Game, an ancient duel of magical skill—the greatest test an enchanter will ever know. The victor becomes the Imperial Enchanter and the tsar’s most respected adviser. The defeated is sentenced to death.
Raised on tiny Ovchinin Island her whole life, Vika is eager for the chance to show off her talent in the grand capital of Saint Petersburg. But can she kill another enchanter—even when his magic calls to her like nothing else ever has?
For Nikolai, an orphan, the Crown’s Game is the chance of a lifetime. But his deadly opponent is a force to be reckoned with—beautiful, whip-smart, imaginative—and he can’t stop thinking about her.
And when Pasha, Nikolai’s best friend and heir to the throne, also starts to fall for the mysterious enchantress, Nikolai must defeat the girl they both love…or be killed himself.
As long-buried secrets emerge, threatening the future of the empire, it becomes dangerously clear—the Crown’s Game is not one to lose.


The Crown's Game: The historical time period and culture was more developed in The Crown's Game. Even though the setting stayed in one place, the exploration of Russian culture was astounding. There aren't many YA books set in Russia, which is really a shame after seeing how beautiful the country is through The Crown's Game. 

The Night Circus: The larger setting of The Night Circus, besides the circus itself, took place in a variety of cities, countries, and even time periods. The variety of settings was interesting, but the drawback was that none of the settings were particularly developed. The circus had jumped across countries already by the time I was finally invested in a setting. The jumps of time and space could also be rather disorienting, which distracted me from the story.

The developed culture and exploration of a city often ignored by YA gives The Crown's Game victory for setting.


The Crown's Game: Despite the magical setting, the fantasy elements of the plot were understated and tropes that I have seen before. The competition was based on elemental magic vs. charms and illusions. Sophisticated magic vs. natural magic is a conflict that I have encountered before, not that I didn't enjoy it, but it wasn't revolutionary. The magical conflict was interesting, but not as complex. Not to mention that the complexity of the circus, its whimsical magic, shapes the entire novel's atmosphere. The magic in The Night Circus is both realistic and fantastical, making me believe, and desperately want, it to be real. 

The Night Circus: The magic was more subtle and nuanced. I also enjoyed the themes that the magical system brought out, such as the difference (or more appropriately, the lack thereof) between natural talent and learned talent. Instead of two different kinds of magic directly opposed, the conflict was more complicated as the competitor's magical styles overlapped and intertwined. By not relying on a strict dichotomy of magic, like how The Crown's Game does, the magical system is more complex with more possibilities.

With a more nuanced take on different styles of magic, The Night Circus presented a conflict that challenged my views of fantasy tropes and led to victory for magical elements. 


Both romances were slow-burning, (which makes sense if you are falling in love with your enemy who could potentially kill you). Less forgivable was the inclusion of feeble love triangle in both stories. The love triangles' weak attempt to create intrigue failed to interest me, and instead just stole interest from the main romance and plot. While there are some situations when love triangles work, the complicated nature of the love triangle stole intrigue from the real romance and plot of the stories.

It's a tie. 


The Crown's Game: The plot was more straight-forward, two magicians compete against each other to the death. There was a political plot of sorts, but the intrigue of tsars and princes was too underdeveloped for me to really care. However, the plot that the story did have was well executed. There was tension, action, and a steady pace. I was just longer for more complication, especially in the political subplots that ended up as merely wisps flying away in wind. 

The Night Circus: The multi-faceted plotlines of The Night Circus extend beyond the competition between magician and into matters of life and death, freedom and imprisonment, and magic and reality. Unlike the multiple settings, the variety of plotlines adds to the overall story--the survival of this magical circus that you cannot help but get hopelessly attached to. For some readers this might be a con because the different storylines could be hard to keep up with, but I enjoyed the complication.

The Night Circus wins due to its delightfully complicated plot that magically intertwined multiple storylines and characters.


The Crown's Game: Even though both books have 400 pages, I feel like a lot more happened within The Crown Game's pages. Action and dialogue filled the pages and contributed to a quick pace that complemented the plot. In addition, the magical competition itself was quicker, not spanning the decades that The Night Circus did. There was more immediate pressure from the competition (like the burning scar that prompted the next magician's move) that kept up the novel's pace. 

The Night Circus: Despite the fact that the book is only 400 pages, it felt more like 600 pages. The illusion of a longer length is not necessarily a bad thing, but it was detrimental to the pace of the novel. Instead of quickly flowing from action to action in The Crown's Game, The Night Circus takes its good old time to arrive at its next destination. The pages are full of beautiful (if lengthy) descriptions and imagery. There were even entire chapters dedicated to walking the reader through the circus without any action or obvious contribution to the plot beyond world-building.

The Crown's Game wins with its faster pace that spanned less time but felt like it incorporated more action and suspense.


The Crown's Game: The writing was nothing particularly memorable or special. It was well-written and I enjoyed the descriptive language used to build the city. I do not really notice writing unless it is exceptionally good or bad, but I didn't notice either in The Crown's Game. 

The Night Circus: At points, I would call the prose a little bit lavender (like a light version of purple prose that is lighter and still pretty). What the story lacked in a fast pace it made up for in beautiful writing. The descriptions may have slowed down the pace, but I would trade the beauty of this writing for a slower story any day.

The Night Circus wins with its intricate and appropriately flowery writing that adds an aura of enchantment to an already magical story.


In the finally tally, The Night Circus ends up on top (narrowing). In the end, the story was more complicated, more unique, and more magical. I will grant that The Crown's Game had a beautiful setting and a quicker pace that held my attention more, but the plot and magic was not as intricate.

That being said, I highly recommend both books. The Crown's Game is more forgiving for those who are not hardcore fantasy fans since the story is easier to follow. I also just love that the setting is 

If you were the judge, which of these books would win? Do you agree with my scoring? If not, let's fight! (Or civilly discuss our differences, whatever you prefer). Are there any other books that revolve around a magical competition that you like? Which books should I pit against each other next?

No comments:

Post a Comment