Review: The Chalice and the Crown, by Kassandra Flamouri

I received a free copy of this book. This did not affect my review, all opinions are my own.

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 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.

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