Title: The Cup and the Prince
Author: Day Leitao
Series: Kingdom of Curses and Shadows (Book 1)
Page Length: 256
Publication Date: Oct. 15, 2020
Synopsis: One prince wants her out.
Another wants her as a pawn.
Someone wants her dead.
Zora wants to win the cup and tell them all to screw themselves.
Yes, 17-year-old Zora cheated her way into the Royal Games, but it was for a very good reason. Her ex-boyfriend thought she couldn’t attain glory on her own. Just because she was a girl. And he was the real cheater. So she took his place.
Now she’s competing for the legendary Blood Cup, representing the Dark Valley. It’s her chance to prove her worth and bring glory for her people. If she wins, of course.
But winning is far from easy. The younger prince thinks she’s a fragile damsel who doesn’t belong in the competition. Determined to eliminate her at all costs, he’s stacking the challenges against her. Zora hates him, hates him, hates him, and will do anything to prove him wrong.
The older prince is helping her, but the cost is getting Zora entangled in dangerous flirting games. Flirting, the last thing she wanted.
And then there’s someone trying to kill her.
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An action-packed young adult fantasy, The Cup and the Prince follows Zora, a young woman who enters a royal competition under false pretenses. When Zora leaves her home in Dark Valley, a place where monsters grow out of the shadows, her main goal is to win the tournament and help the people of Dark Valley. She doesn’t expect to be swept into a court of political and familial intrigue, assassination attempts, magic, and royal manipulations. With everything on the line, and her life at stake, Zora must use all of her skills to survive. Who is trying to kill Zora, and can she win the Blood Cup before it’s too late?
Zora is a fascinating protagonist. I like that she isn’t thoroughly good or thoroughly evil. Smart and brave, Zora is also devious and impulsive. She cheats and lies and manipulates others, much like they do to her. She lives in a morally grey world and acts accordingly. I love her ferocity and determination. A young woman who lives in constant fear and on constant alert, Zora has faults and sometimes acts irrationally, but her desire to help and protect others is admirable.
Like a fish out of water, Zora shows naivete in traversing the complicated and treacherous political world. However, she might be the most astute of all the characters, as she often sees through people’s masks and realizes their true intentions before anyone else. Her fighting prowess and ability to think outside the box, as well as her ingrained survival instinct, prove indispensable throughout the story. Zora faces so many challenges, yet she remains determined and steadfast.
The other characters are interesting as well, though not as dynamically developed as Zora. The royal brothers, for example, are enigmatic and intriguing. Their intentions are never clear, and all three appear to have ulterior motives. I found them interesting because I, like Zora, never knew who to trust. Zora’s friends are other interesting additions to the novel, and I’m eager to see their stories developed in future books in the series, especially one in particular who was mysteriously sent away.
The action in the story is as vivid as the setting, and the cliffhanger is AMAZING and completely unpredictable! Readers who like young adult fantasy with political intrigue, dangerous tournaments, attempted murders, and a fascinating protagonist will enjoy The Cup and the Prince. Thanks so much to Netgalley and the publisher for a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review.
He no longer felt like a cart going down a slope- he’d fallen down a precipice.
Even though she was no longer in the Dark Valley, the Dark Valley was still in her.
Fail to measure your competition, and you’ll soon be measuring your failures.
Focus too much on the enemy, and you’ll lose sight of your own path.
This is a great story for people who like YA fantasy with a ton of action and great world-building.