Driven, talented, and determined to live up to her family's fame, Sasha Nikolayeva is ballet’s crown princess. But just when Sasha lands her most prestigious role yet, she falls prey to a host of disturbing neurological symptoms that threaten to end her career and her very life. As her mind and body deteriorate, Sasha spirals into a nightmare world where beauty and cruelty exist in the same breath and villains rule from the shadows.
In the glittering, sharp-edged City of Roses, Sasha is no princess. She’s a thrall, a slave. Thousands like her suffer in cursed silence while citizens enjoy the splendor of the City, blissfully unaware that their servants are anything more than living dolls enchanted to do their bidding. But the City's slavers know the truth, and they are always watching. One misstep could cost Sasha her life—or her soul.
Even as she endures the violence and indignity of captivity, Sasha can't help being drawn to the beauty of her nightmare world and the underground rebels who offer her friendship, shelter, even love. Before Sasha can break her chains for good, she'll need to choose between the life waiting for her at home and the countless lives she could save if she stays. To choose a nightmare over her real life, her future, would be madness...but maybe a little madness is just what it takes to change the fate of a city built on lies.
"""Dreams and reality perform a captivating pas de deux in this tale of legacy and longing. A lyrical and original fantasy that, like its heroine, has the soul of a dancer."" -Adi Rule, Author of STRANGE SWEET SONG
The Chalice and the Crown is deliciously dark, and Kassandra's vivid imagery brings this haunting story to life. It's the perfect book for curling up with every night and getting lost inside.--Goodreads review
An engaging, imaginative and emotional read with far more polish than you expect from an indie debut. Well worth your time if you like your portal fantasies to be a little more Sarah J. Mass and a little less Narnia.--Goodreads review"
Average rating from 59 members
The Chalice and the Crown is a beautifully written. A dark and vivid read that takes your breath away with the sinister and deceptively beautiful world it creates. A must read.
Rating: 4.75 / 5 stars Imagine yourself living in the world where your nightmares are your real life and you can't wake up from them. This book truly blew my mind. I started reading it not really knowing what's it about. I thought it was ballet and at the beginning it reminded me a lot of Black Swan (the movie I absolutely love) both because of the ballet and mental struggles, but as I got more into the plot I realized it was about something else entirely. We follow a young girl, a ballet dancer Sasha, who after getting the lead role in Swan Lake and unfortunately losing her grandmother, starts having nightmares. She can't escape those nightmare and they start appearing even when she's awake, so much that she doesn't know what's real and what isn't. Suddenly, she is in this paralel world, City of Roses, where she is merely a thrall for those mightier than her. And she doesn't know who she is. This story is truly unique and I give major props to the author for creating such an interesting world, because I've never read of something similar before. A world where people are not people, they are slaves who don't speak and don't have a mind of their own. But Sasha is different of course, with helps of her friend and her true love, ballet, she becomes mindful and fights those manipulations. That alone shows us the power of our mind. Although this book is very shocking and sad in some parts, it paints a beautiful picture of friendship, family and love. I loved how there are so many different characters with different traits. Other than Sasha, Sadra is definitely my favorite character and it's because of her selflessness and because she's the most amazing friend. The part that I really enjoyed was all the beautiful songs and stories both from the real world and City of Roses. I always love reading about imaginary legends in fiction books, and one of those is the story about the blacksmith and the chalice. Those stories make books even more captivating. Although the ending wasn't really what I expected, it was very well made and it wrapped up the story perfectly. This whole book was unpredictable but that's what made it even better. I highly recommend it to everyone who enjoys fantasy. I'm glad I read this because it's truly one of the most unique books I've ever read.
*I received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review* Wow. This book took me on a wild ride. I went into this book not knowing what to expect. The Chalice and the Crown is a book that gets very dark at times. Our main character is Sasha Nikolayeva, a ballerina following in her Mother, and Grandmothers footsteps. She has been chosen to be the lead in Swan Lake, and as pressure builds we see a bit of Black Swan style psychological pressure, as Sasha’s mind starts to unravel she struggles with memory loss and understanding what is real and what isn’t. She finds herself in a whole other world where she, and others like her are no more than slaves., or “Thralls” mindless, and obedient, these slaves exist solely to do the bidding of those that own them. The people in the City of Roses have no idea that underneath, these slaves are real people. I really had a lot of feelings reading this book. First, I need to praise the author for a job well done, while reading this I really felt that fear, and terror while Sasha was breaking down. The tension felt so heavy. Throughout the book I felt like I was holding my breath through moments of suspense. I also want to mention that although this book started out by having subtle similarities of some of the themes found in Black Swan, it quickly transformed into something beautifully original. I would love to see more in this world!!
The Chalice and the Crown is a wonderful, YA fantasy novel for fans of Danielle Jensen's Malediction Trilogy and Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. While the method of transportation to the City of Roses is similar to Carroll's Alice, that is really where the similarities end. Sasha is a young, Russian prima ballerina. Like many ballerina's she is obsessed with perfecting her craft and because of this her health suffers. She is plagued by nightmares of a distant land where she is a thrall (or slave). Dreams and reality merge when Sasha's soul is ripped from her and transported to the thrall's body. She must use on her wits and her friends to find a way to escape and return home. Along the way she finds love and friendship while trying to change the history of slavery in the kingdom. Flamouri's debut novel (she had previously had a few short story anthologies) is well written and the pacing keeps you engaged throughout the book. She has interwoven bits of Russian culture without going over the top. For example, the pet name "kotik" or little kitten that grandma Nadia calls Sasha. Or the traditional Russian lullaby, "Bayu Bayushki", which is prevalent throughout Sasha's story as a coping mechanism for the young heroine. The only thing that would really tip you off is Sasha doesn't have a patronymic but instead has a patronymic surname (Nikolayeva means of Nikolai) which happens with first generation Russian-Americans. Overall 4 stars for The Chalice and the Crown. I was very pleased with how The Chalice and the Crown concluded. This is a standalone YA which was very refreshing and Flamouri did a fantastic job tying up loose ends. The romance was sweet but not the focal point. There are a number of dark themes but the author does a great job cautioning any readers who may see these as a potential trigger.
DARK FANTASY THAT EXPLORES THE LINE BETWEEN MAGIC AND INSANITY This was a hauntingly dark book that had me guessing a lot of the time. I am a fan of dark fantasy and this was probably some of the darkest I have read in a long time. "Something dark, something dangerous has been stalking me from the shadows of sleep and it's getting closer" - Sasha 👍 WHAT I LIKED 👍 Premise: Sasha is a ballerina who suffers from nightmares. But the nightmares become increasingly real and soon she is pulled into the magical world of her nightmares. I really liked this idea of 'madness' as a result of magic from another world. It was a very interesting and compelling premise. Darkness: This book has pretty much everything of the dark variety - slavery, madness, nightmares, repression, the whole shebang. I loved the nitty, gritty feeling of this book, the clawing darkness, the oppressive feeling I had all the way through. Sure, it had bursts of happiness and joy, but they were fleeting. And honestly, I kind of liked that. Characters: This book has many different characters that I enjoyed, I even liked hating on the bad characters. Sasha, our heroine, is determined but also fragile - a combination I really liked. Luca, our love interest, was sweet, heroic and pretty much everything a knight in shining armor should be. Sadra, Sasha's best friend, was strong and resilient, just as I like it. 👎 WHAT I DISLIKED 👎 World building: This is set in a clearly rich world, however, I was missing more knowledge of it. It has many different facets - Light, Gifts, the Pall, factions, monarchy and so much more. I was wishing for more elaboration on these different things that made up the world of this book.
I thought the concept of this book was really cool. I blurred the lines of reality and used the book to do that. I also like the strong female protagonist that we get with Sasha, I wish that there were not formatting errors but it was a small price to pay, I also hope that there will be more books in this series. The one con that I will say exists was I thought that her leaving the reality of Emily, James, and Dave kind of felt under-done to me. I thought there would be more flashes back as she entered the reality of her as a thrall. But if that is my only qualm then I would say it was definitely worth the read.
It's always funny when a movie starts out as a dream. Not sure if I ever read a book that way, but it was a nice surprise. We are introduced to our main character Sasha who is a ballet dancer. She is currently practicing for swan lake as the lead, and of course everyone is jealous. We are also introduced to James, the witty director who makes jokes. Sasha has had a rough life, and she is doing everything she can to keep it together. Though as she gets older she starts to become more like her mom, which could be a good thing or a bad thing we aren't sure yet. At the end of her moms life her mental health started to decline and she was having nightmares. Now with the stress of swan lake Sasha is getting them too, and she is not happy about it. Sasha starts to wonder if it is the stress of her dance, or if she is going crazy. I was very pleased with how this book played out, and thankful that it is a stand alone. So many people do series now, and its always refreshing to read a book and then not have to wait a year for the next one.
I received a copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for my honest review. This book was so gripping! The combination of magic, world-building, and a dive into madness made this one I couldn't put down until it was done. The slow fall into darkness and fantasy was really well done.
At first I didn't know what to expect from this book, but I ended up enjoying and loving it a lot. It was such a great read and the writing is very beautiful.
Is psychological fantasy a thing? Because I think this might be a contender. I really enjoyed this dark take that tip toed en pointe along the lie between a fantasy nightmare realm and not being able to trust your own mind. Clever, atmospheric and intense.
The Chalice and the Crown tells the story of Sasha, a ballet dancer who suffers from awful nightmares that drag her into a world of violence and magic, and makes her slowly lose contact with reality. Wow, that was incredible. I have no words. It’s been a while since a read a book that left me in shock and sobbing. This story was so well written, so beautiful and raw and freaking interesting from page one. I couldn’t stop reading, it was THAT addictive. I love every character with my heart. What Sasha goes through, and the way her story is written, just dragged me into that world too. I definitely feel like even the villains are absolutely necessary for the actual background of the story. So many scenes broke my heart, so many made me smile and so many made me sob like a baby, and even though I was expecting another ending to it, I wouldn’t change what happened. And the plot twists? WOW I was all the time trying to figure out what was happening and the meaning of certain scenes and characters, and still it all surprised me. Am I sad that Sasha and Sadra didn’t end up together? Definitely. Am I happy with the final ships anyway? Hell yes. Thanks to Netgalley and BooksGoSocial for the e-arc in exchange for an honest review.
Oh man, this was a great book and I really want to read more books like this in the future. I look forward to reading more books from the author in the future.
I received a complimentary copy of this ebook from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This story put a nice twist on madness and magic. It is a fairly dark fantasy with the main character, Sasha following in the footsteps of her mother with ballet and then a quick descent into what looks like madness/illness. But it turns out that not is all as is it seems, or is it? Sasha's dreams/visions turn into another life as a thrall in a kingdom that uses them for Light sources. It was a really interesting book and though it was dark at times, I really wanted Sasha to be okay. I liked how it was all wrapped up (very sweet ending) and that it is a standalone.
Sasha is a ballerina like her mother and grandmother before her. From the very beginning of her memories, Sasha remembers only her grandmother raising her. After nightmares begin to plague her, she starts to recognize frightening similarities between her mother who went mad and herself. Soon, she starts wondering what is her actual reality. When she closes her eyes she wakes up in another body, in another world. This other reality is frightening and dangerous. After only a short amount of time, it is almost impossible for her to know what is going on in each of her realities without feeling confused or angry. Sasha has a lot to go through before she can return to her original life, or decide to stay and fight for what is right in her other reality where thralls are used as slaves for their power and die young without knowing freedom. This was an interesting read and I look forward to seeing what the author does in the future.
I didn’t know what to expect but I enjoyed reading this book. It covered all sorts of darker themes that can be borderline triggering. The story was extremely creative . The plot was great and the characters were vibrant.
It is very hard to put my thoughts on this book together. Confusing. Gripping. Tension. Those are a few attributes that come to my mind. The story follows young girl aspiring to become a famous ballet dancer as she prepares for her first performance as a prima ballerina in Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake. However, she keeps getting haunted by those recurring dreams. They start following her even when she is not sleeping. In the beginning, you think she suffers some mental health problems, it really looks like that, but then the reality shifts. The dream becomes reality and reality becomes a dream. You as a reader don´t know what is true and our narrator is very unreliable in this respect. The writing was beautiful. It made you feel all the confusion our main character was experiencing as well as all the struggle. The book is full of beautiful relationships, in family, among friends, romantic, all of them. The story takes you in and doesn´t let you go until you finish. The main character is nicely fleshed out, all of her feelings, thoughts, action, is very well thought out. And the romantic relationship was so cute, even though it is not a big focus of the book. I really enjoyed my time with this book.
I enjoyed this book. I would recommend it to others and I would like to read more from this author in the future.
Sasha Nikolayeva is a young, talented ballerina who has just landed her most prestigious role. It should be time of rejoicing and pride but the nightmares that have always plagued her take a hold of her. She sinks into them and it’s feared that she is suffering from the same mental ailments that took her mothers life when she was in her prime. Her mind and body deteriorate as the nightmare’s she falls into take her to live in the City of Roses. A city in which she has no voice and is a thrall (a slave). The thralls are not considered human, they are treated like dolls and pets. Any instance of them being aware could result in punishment and death. Her dance brings her out of her mentally entrapped state but it could cost her life if anyone of power was to find out. She builds a secret relationship with a few trusted individuals who can potentially help her find a way out and back into her world. Sasha will have to choose between returning to her beloved grandmother and others she finds dear or stay in the City of Roses and fight. This book is dark, gritty and leaves you wondering if Sasha can balance the line between magic, insanity and reality. I didn’t expect to be pulled into this book so quickly and found myself devouring it. I am not one who normally enjoys magical aspects but the writing, storyline and the authors ability to make words and scenes alive mesmerized me. Be prepared for unanswered questions but I assume that is because this will become a series and not because the writer is done telling Shasha’s story.
A fabulous, imaginative tale, twisting together the threads of two entirely different worlds. A fresh and vibrant new fantasy, with a brilliant plotline and fantastic characters. This book literally took me to a whole new world and held me there throughout. I absolutely loved this and find myself desperately hoping for more of the same
From the very start of The Chalice and the Crown Sasha's passion in her ballet is beautiful to read. She is a bit of a stroppy teenager to begin with, but given that this is a young adult book I think most readers will be able to relate to her rather than dislike her. Sasha begins on Earth in our "timeline" but quickly falls ill with doctors unable to explain what is happening, other than suggesting the issue is in her brain. During the unwell episodes she dreams of another place where everyone speaks a different language and have different magical skills. the more sick she becomes on earth, the more she visits this new place. In this 'new world' she is a slave who cannot speak and has no memories until she slowly 'Awakens'. The writing of this book is gripping, there were a few bits I had to go back and re-read to better understand, but it does all pull together at the end of the story and it has set up for a fantastic part 2 book with a potential uprising.
I really enjoyed this book! It was vastly different than any other story I've read and the characters came alive. I felt the struggle that Sasha felt. Her pain, her joy, her love. The author created a wonderful world and cast of characters. There were a few moments of confusion on my part, but I believe it was intentional due to the main characters confusion. I appreciate Netgalley, the author, and the publishers of The Chalice and the Crown for giving me the pleasure of reviewing this book!
i really enjoyed reading this book, the characters were great and I really liked the story overall. I'd be interested in reading more from the author.
I have received this ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. The Chalice and the Crown started off on an interesting note. In it, you will meet Sasha. She is a Russian ballerina who is dealing with the usual things in life: stress, nightmares, and her grandmother is dying. Her dream is to be in the performance of Swan Lake but her spot in the show comes at a price. Ever since she started practicing for the show, her nightmares started and increased. She sometimes even jumps into a hallucination or two while being awake. Honestly, I would've freaked out after the first one but somehow Sasha just keeps on going. Mostly because she doesn't want the world to know about it. She doesn't want to end up like her mother. This book dove into all kinds of darkness and I loved it all. There's just something about dark books in October that makes me smile. I mean, so much happens in this book and Kassandra did an excellent job diving into those hard topics: racism, mental illness, cruelty - animal and human alike. I mean I almost choked on my wine when I got to some parts but I kept turning the page because this book was completely addicting. In the end, I definitely enjoyed and loved this book. I look forward to the next one by this author.
Finally got around to reading this and loved every page, I really enjoyed the plot and writing style
With thanks to Netgalley and BooksGoSocial The chalice and the Crown is a book that deals with the thin line between magic and insanity and a dark fantasy that I enjoyed. I'm sure that it will be a hit with YA readers.
The Russian Sasha Nikolayeva is a talented ballerina, plagued by nightmares that seem so real it's like she's living them. Just as she lands a famous role in The Swan Lake, Sasha's nightmares become more common and she starts hallucinating. One day, she's fully sucked into her nightmare, a new fantasy world where she's a thrall without her memory. Can Sasha remember who she was and come back to reality? Okay, I'll admit, I hadn't read the complete blurb before I started the book. I read 'ballet's crown princess' and 'neurological symptoms', and I requested a copy. I didn't know what I was getting into when I started reading. It felt like I was reading a contemporary novel, with some random dream passages in between. As the story progressed and the dreams came more often, I started noticing a coherence in the dreams, and suddenly Sasha was in her parallel dream world. I have never ever read a book with this layout. The subtle changes in the layout of The Chalice and the Crown (I'm not going to spoil what those changes are!), had real impact on me. The story shows how friends help each other, while still being independent. It's sad but hopeful and filled with important choices that define Sasha's future. Sasha grew as a person and her priorities changed. I already respected Sasha at the start of the book, but even more when I finished it. The Chalice and the Crown is a beautiful dark fantasy that contains racism, pain and sadness, but also friendship, love and hope. It sends a message of finding the good in the bad. It contains morally grey characters and a surprising bittersweet ending. As I'm writing this review, I don't even know why I gave this book only 3 stars. I'm going to give it 4 stars, because the author created something incredibly dark, despite being beautiful. It's not a long book, so I highly recommend you read it.
This beautiful book of ballet fantasy and a nightmarish feel is a delicious wicked dark web of grit that you don't typically get with Young Adult books, as I have come to find. The storytelling was engaging and kept me reading this entire book in a sitting. I am thankful for this wonderfully brilliant debut novel and for having the opportunity to read it early! I will definitely be recommending this book to the older Young Adults! 4/5 stars!