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Summary

"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)

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.

©2020 Kassandra Flamouropoulos (P)2020 Kassandra Flamouropoulos

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  • CorgiDad1980
  • 18-12-21

A neat twist on magic

This book was intense and harsh and lovely. A very cool take on thrall and mental illness.

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  • Sophia
  • 19-10-21

Cruelly Enchanting

I received a complimentary copy of this book (in audiobook form) from the author and decided to write an honest review as thanks. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.


The Chalice and the Crown by Kassandra Flamouri has a fascinating premise, with prose that blends heartfelt, evocative details with the hauntingly realistic elements of neurological madness.

The moments of inner dialogue narrated by Sasha Nikolayeva, a young talented ballet protégé, are so intimate and visceral. The exquisite details of Sasha's transition between worlds interlock so masterfully between dialogue and introspection, painting the most vivid linguistic picture. I reread passages with great fondness to better appreciate the poetry of the words. The Chalice and the Crown is a fantasy with teeth and is genuinely gripping for its contrasting brutality and beauty.

Ultimately, the writing style has a kind of fluidity to it. It reads almost like a dream: a cruelly enchanting one that alternates between reality and nightmare. This quality allows readers to discover the mystery of the darkly beautiful world, Kingsgarden, right alongside Sasha. Speaking of, the world-building of the fantasy realm is superb, with the hierarchical system and bigotry within it seeming so tangible.

I wish, however, that the ending revealing Sasha's powers was better foreshadowed, as I found the twist rather abrupt. Also, I would have appreciated it if the romance between Sasha and Luca, the king's bastard half-brother, was better developed and given more page time because I adored their dynamic.

And of course, I loved Luca's fox, Kieran. He absolutely stole the show.

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  • Ryan D Meier
  • 01-06-21

Whimsical dark fantasy

Before I leave the book review, a huge hand for Elizabeth Zuckerman for a fantastic job narrating. She really brought the story to life.

The Chalice and the Crown feels like a fairytale from the start, yet not the Disney kind. At times the story can be dark & grim; but Flamouri's beautiful prose and its mysterious storyline will keep you engaged.

Only minor spoilers to follow....

It is fascinating how Sasha is torn between worlds (I found myself creating a hundred different scenarios for how/why) and as the plot unfolds more mystery piles up. The ending is emotional; and as the moral dilemma is confronted and our characters' arcs reach their crescendo things avalanche down. Looking back I feel bittersweet; but love where the ending went.

It was reminiscent of reading a Katherine Arden novel, and gave me Nutcracker-type vibes mixed with dark fantasy. So if whimsical dark fantasy that feels like a grim fairytale sounds like a good mix (it is!), start here.

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  • S
  • 09-11-20

The book was very heartfelt and emotional.

Sasha is a starring ballerina with a wonderful career ahead of her, until she falls ill. She thinks she's going mad and suffering the same illness which took her mother. The visions Sasha sees turn into another world where she is nothing more than a mindless slave. There she finds out there was more to her mother's death than she ever imagined.
The book was very heartfelt and emotional. The descriptions of Sasha's dancing were very evocative and immersive and sounded so beautiful. I really liked the narrator, she fit the character very well and this is one of the very rare times I didn't need to speed up the reading too much as the speed was great.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 11-09-20

magical

a story of a different kind. not the typical fantasy that one reads. outstanding and refreshing!