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Fantasy Friday: The Cup and the Prince by Day Leitao

When a girl set on revenge meets an arrogant prince, sparks fly and tempers rise.

Yes, Zora cheated her way into the Royal Games, but it was for a very good reason:
Her ex was an asshole and thought she could never attain glory on her own.
Just because she’s a girl.
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 to 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. Ha. All he’s doing is making her want to win this competition more than ever. She has to teach this prince a lesson, doesn’t she?

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.

Amazon Link: The Cup and the Prince (Kingdom of Curses and Shadows #1)

Author: Day Leitao

Genre: YA Fantasy

Rating: 4/5 stars

This was a little different take on the royal competition story because Zora wasn’t forced to compete and she wasn’t in it to win a prince in marriage. Because Zora was recently burned in love, she has little interest in finding a new relationship, and she doesn’t want to advance her status through marriage either.

But it wasn’t really clear to me what she was actually competing. Partly she chose to do it just to show up her ex-boyfriend and to prove that a woman could be just as strong as a man, which felt a little forced. She was already trusted as a warrior in her community and she helped to protect children. She thought she could lift the curse on her valley if she won the cup, but it’s never stated what power the Cup will give her. Before the competition even starts, Prince Larzen points out that she actually needs to use politics–yet she ignores his advice. It feels like she is just stuck on the idea of being a champion for her own sake. And since we don’t know what the Blood Cup can do, we also don’t know why Prince Griffin (or any other competitor) wants it so badly. He seems to have a curse of his own or something else that he’s afraid of, but it’s never said what the real problem is.

Overall, the writing and story felt a little simplistic and there wasn’t enough development for the world, characters, or relationships. The plot flips back and forth too quickly for any real depth and the villains won too easily in the end. It definitely feels like this author’s first book. I am curious to see how more things will be revealed and changed as the plot goes on, but I hope the author gets better as the series goes on.

Also, I was wondering if Mauro was gay? He talked about his future making a home with his companion, Sam, and didn’t seem interested in any of the women. But then why was Sam just called his friend?

I would recommend this book to fans of royal competitions like The Selection or enemies-to-lovers romance like The Cruel Prince.

Here is the book in my reading journal:


I'm an author, a blogger, and a nerd. I read and write fantasy.