The Cup and The Prince was a largely enjoyable read that featured charming characters, an amazing world, and a strong plot. The idea of winning a competition under false pretense was really interesting.
The plot immediately separated itself from other titles because of the pretense. Since Zora technically lied to compete for the Blood Cup, she's put into a more precarious position than other characters. She must keep her reasoning a secret from other characters, causing tension. Being tied to all three royal characters was also a good choice because it showed the contrast in each of Zora’s relationships and helped establish her newfound importance within the royal court.
While the book took an interesting look at competitions in YA fiction, (Hunger Games, etc.) its plot and characters were negatively affected by the length of the book. It was a good book to sit down and read in one sitting but I had trouble with pacing of the story. More time should have been devoted to the characters and their relationships. Instead, by the end of the book, I found myself questioning the character’s interactions. I had a hard time believing they formed any real relationships because things seemed to move so fast.
The plot is also negatively affected by the book’s length. Some major plot points weren’t as hard-hitting because there was no real build-up to them. Zora leaves the Dark Valley very early in the book, so the readers don’t have a good idea of the hardships she faced there. As a reader, I didn’t feel like Zora leaving her home was very important because I lacked information about the life she was leaving behind. That event should have felt scary or intimidating but instead, it just felt like another part of the story. There were several more moments like this in the novel.
Overall, however, the book was very good. It had a good idea behind it and was well executed. While the length of the book negatively affected my experience, it was still enjoyable. The series is promising but still has room for improvement and I’m excited to read the follow-up.