The Cup and The Prince (Kingdom of Curses and Shadows Book 1) – Day Leitao

The Cup and The Prince (Kingdom of Curses and Shadows Book 1) – Day Leitao

Synopsis

Throne of Glass meets Minecraft in this fun YA romantic fantasy. 

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 Cup and the Prince is a light and fun YA fantasy with romance, action, and intrigue, for readers 15 and older.  It’s book 1 in the series Kingdom of Curses and Shadows. 

Review

But this story is getting messy, so we’ll get back to the beginning.
Four hundred years before…
Too early?
Let’s go back four hours then, when Zora was still bright-eyed and oblivious.

That beginning is epic 😂. I really like Day Leitao’s books, so when I found out she was writing a new series I had to read it. Although I felt a little scared when I learned that it was inspired by Minecraft

I honestly find it incredibly cool to pull out a complete story inspired by the idea that monsters can appear in dark places.

Zora is a 17-year-old girl who has lived all her life in the Dark Valley, a place where monsters spawn in every small space of shadows, so all the citizens are in charge of keeping lamps lit and locating things ensuring that they do not create spaces without light.

Given this lifestyle and the fact that accidents cannot be avoided, everyone in the valley needs to know how to defend themselves against the shadows, even children. Zora is a teacher and is in charge of teaching them both to survive, to read and, above all, to always keep hope.

“What do we do?”
“WE SHINE OUR LIGHT,” both replied.
“What if shadows come?”
“WE FIGHT, WE FIGHT, WE FIGHT.”
“What if fear shows up?”
“WE ALWAYS TRUST OUR MIGHT.”
“And what do we do meanwhile?”
“WE HOPE, BELIEVE, AND TRY.”

Zora’s “war” shout

Zora had a boyfriend, Seth, who was a reverend jerk and was just using her. Seth had been selected as the valley champion who would go to represent them in the Royal Games competition. Fortunately, Zora discovered his deception just the night before Seth left town.

“You’re a girl and all, so you can’t do things yourself, but you can be my inspiration.”

I’m so kicking this idiot’s ass to a dark spot where he can be eaten by a shadow wolf

After this betrayal, Zora decides that she does not need love or hope. And she takes Seth’s place in the competition as revenge.

Then she checked the lamps in the house to make sure they had enough oil for the night. If a shadow creature spawned inside his house and killed him, what was the point of all that? You can’t humiliate dead people…
…Her idea was to write, “Dear Seth, when I find glory, please know that none of it is yours.” But then she remembered he couldn’t read.

He’s such an idiot that is even hard to humiliate him 🤦

One small detail is that she has no idea what the competition is all about. Also, she managed to anger Griffin, the youngest prince, as soon as she arrived.

Well, if she won the cup instead of him, she’d be the one with the mocking face. Simple solution. Complex execution.

Being the only woman in the competition should put her at a disadvantage, but at least it meant finding some unexpected allies, including Prince Larzen, who offered his help in exchange for her taking part in the courtship.

Well, duh. He was a guy and probably thought women were naturally born with makeup and hair done.

Things were going relatively well, until Zora discovers Griffin’s big secret and someone starts trying to assassinate her. Now Zora is caught in the middle of the competition itself, but also the problems between the three princes. Plus the king’s fiancee, Alegra.

Be careful, be careful. It was all people told her. As if the responsibility for not getting murdered were hers.

I was a little scared when I started reading this book because I saw a pretty bad review. I’m very glad I didn’t listen to it because my only critic to this book is the fact that it ends on a cliffhanger, and I only complain because I suffer a lot when the next part has not yet come out.

But really, it blew my mind.

For starters, I loved Zora. She is very brave, super intelligent and life in the Valley has given her many resources. However, she is not indestructible and knows it. She suffers more than one collapse in the book and I love that, because it makes her feel so much more real.

Tears were running from her eyes again. If they could fix anything, Zora would have no problems.

It reminds me a lot of The Hunger Games, apart from the competition itself. This is done to entertain the subjects of the kingdom. It also made me think of Mulan. Although she does not disguise herself as a man, she must prove her worth in front of them, in addition to wanting to win to honor her people.

Perhaps the heart had a special place for one hated person, just like it had a special place for love, although she swore to leave that empty or fill it with love for humanity, for her valley.

I cannot say anything about Throne of Glass because I am an embarrassment to the reading community and I have not read it yet.

Yes, it’s me inside the box

The Dark Valley is very well-built. When I was reading I kept thinking of “mistakes” for things that would inevitably make a shadow like the sheets, however, it is explained that, in fact, they do not use them.

Now, it is true that there are TOO MANY “sexual” jokes in the style of a 14-year-old boy, but for me it was like listening to a friend telling bad jokes 🤣.

Griffin scoffed. “You’re assuming she’d want to come.”
“Weird.” Larzen scratched his chin. “I thought that was what most girls wanted.”
Alegra and Kiran laughed. Zora looked uncomfortable.

Finally… Are there clichés? Yes. Do I care? No 🤣. I love castles and balls in books, competitions too. Also, while you could say there are clichés, I feel like Day gave all of them an original turn. And fear not, there is no love square between princes and Zora 👌.

Final verdict: 5/5, I highly recommend it to have a good time.

PS: I went overboard with the quotes but there were some too good to leave out 😊.

Bye bye 💕

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