I received an eARC of The Cup and the Prince by Day Leitao from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review!
This was such an interesting fantasy that, at first, I wasn’t sure where it was going, but soon, I was absolutely hooked.
Synopsis from Goodreads:
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.
The first 10% of this book concerned me. We are introduced to our main character Zora as she’s being pressured to please her boyfriend before he runs off into a battle competition between the nation’s finest warriors. Zora isn’t really interested, but gives in because “she promised”. Seth, her boyfriend, makes horribly sexist comments. Zora makes an ableist comment (BIG YIKES) and I question whether I should even continue.
Then, Zora finds out her boyfriend has been cheating on her this entire time and is literally using her for sex. So, she does the sensible thing and drug him so she can take his place in the competition!
And now I’m intrigued.
So once Zora gets to the kingdom its more sexism and misogyny at every turn, but she’s different so she doesn’t care. She’s not like all those other girls! I honestly hate this trend of writers making girls try to be anti-feminine. Dresses? Disgusting. Dating? Absolutely not. Trying to portray yourself as overly masculine because you’re uncomfortable of your femininity? Hell yeah. It’s so annoying. Zora looks down on other girls for their choices and actions because she finds it pointless, but it just ends up irritating me, the reader, because why can’t women be feminine and all of the other things Zora wants to be?
At least her thinking changes in the book. Once Zora makes some friends and realizes that she doesn’t have to be rude about other people’s choices, we can get back to the plot. Which was really interesting.
I really liked the dual POV between Zora and Griffin as we see characters and events from two different perspectives. Griffin was an interesting character and I enjoyed when it was his moment in the book, especially when he was with Alegra. Alegra’s character was cool because she’s a seductress, but also a political pawn for the three princes (technically two princes and one king), but she always seems to have the upper hand.
I thought the plot was fun and I was trying to figure out who wants to kill her. I had my suspicions, but they’re never confirmed in the book, so I guess I’ll have to wait until the next one to find out.
As the plot progresses, I was interested in Alegra’s character a lot and her intention with Zora. Honestly, I could care less about the men (except maybe Griffin), I just wanted to know about Alegra and Zora!
Overall, I ended up really loving this book. The beginning wasn’t winning me over, but once Zora arrived at the castle, it got really interesting. I’m definitely excited to read the next book! .5 // 5 stars.
If this book sounds interesting, check out The Kinder Poison by Natalie Mae.
I have a Ko-fi account! If you like my content and want to help me fund my own domain or just wants to send me a gift, I’ve linked it here! Thanks to anyone who checks it out!