DNF Review: The Cup and The Prince (Kingdom of Curses and Shadows #1)

Title: The Cup and The Prince

Author: Day Leitao

Pub. Date: October 15, 2020

Pages: 256

Pub: Sparkly Wave

Genre: YA Fantasy

Rating: ⭐️⭐️ (DNF @ 41%)

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.

This will be a short spoiler free review. Thank you to NetGalley and Sparkly Wave Publishing for gifting me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Ultimately this book just didn’t do anything for me. Comping something to Throne of Glass can be a huge benefit, or detrimental and in my opinion, it didn’t do this book any favors. I had such high hopes for this book and had immediately requested it upon seeing it comped with Throne of Glass. I really liked the cover and synopsis sounded promising.

Then I started reading.

And that’s when the disappointment set in.

But before I get into my issues – I stopped reading at 41% because I just couldn’t make myself continue on. I do think the premise of this book is amazing and it truly sounds promising. It feels like such a missed opportunity and I’m really bummed that I couldn’t force myself to finish this book and that I didn’t love it. I don’t want to give it a 0 or a 1-star rating, because I do think this book has promise, and maybe one day I’ll go back to it and try again.

Now, I can’t talk on the whole book, since I didn’t read it all, but even with only having read roughly half, I have complaints.

I hate Zora – the MC she’s whiny and cries ALL THE TIME. Everything is a personal slight. When she was first introduced I kind of thought she was a bit of a badass – she takes matters into her own hands and forges her own path. Everything kind of just goes downhill from there. She talks a big game, but rarely delivers. I’m all for strong female characters, but Zora talks so much about defying the societal norms but doesn’t actually do much and then gets all morose that she’s not as pretty or like other girls. And I get that we all compare ourselves, even when we’re confident in who we are, but Zora just seemed to flip-flop between being “strong” and being “whiny”. She was also woefully naïve.

I didn’t care for the love interest. Like, at all. He did nothing for me. And while I didn’t actually read their “romantic” relationship, I could easily pick him out and he just wasn’t enticing.

Between the two of them she’s all power to women and he’s all women are pretty little fragile things. Blech. His brothers did nothing for me either. I was just unimpressed with the whole cast of characters. They were all one dimensional at best and basically stereotypes. Other than their physical descriptions I had no idea who they were so there were no emotional ties.

The writing is trying to be coy and clever but just comes across stilted and flat. Everything is just told to you, there’s hardly any world building. Like, I have no idea what anything is supposed to look like. The lore/mythology/magic system is vague as fuck. A goddess was introduced in one scene, seemingly out of the blue and never ever mentioned again. And the whole existence of the shadow creatures is never explained beyond “someone did something bad and this was the consequences.

Don’t even get me started on the ex-boyfriend who’s just rotting away in a dungeon seemingly forgotten about. Who cares about him? Why he was even included in the first place, I’ll never understand.

The contest for the Blood Cup (though idk what that is or why it’s so important – it’s NEVER explained) is supposed to be dangerous af, but the first task was literally “pick up these balls in the dark, get as many as you can, but you can move when the light comes on”…like, really?

It’s like a modified game of Simon Says, or flashlight tag. What bearing does that have on anything?

I just…I have no more words. I’m honestly so baffled by this book. I honestly don’t understand how it has high ratings, but I’m glad people are enjoying it. I wish I were one of them. Unfortunately, I’m not. I probably won’t pick up the second book in the series, but I do recommend picking up this book if you’re curious. My goal isn’t to turn you off books, but to give my honest opinion. Again, I wish I’d loved this book, and I’m sad that this is my first DNF of the year.

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