📚Cruel Magic (Royals of Villain Academy Book 1) By Eva Chase

When mages slaughter my parents in front of me, I have no time to mourn. The murderers drag me into a society of dark magic where power is created by fear.

It turns out I’m the long-lost heir to one of their royal families—guaranteed to possess a talent even more vicious than most. And I’m trapped here until I accept my role.

But I don’t want these wicked skills I have no idea how to tap into. I don’t want the mansion or the fancy clothes or the massive bank account I inherited.

I especially don’t want the attention of my fellow heirs: four scorching-hot, arrogant men who rule this place and crush anyone who doesn’t kowtow.

All I really want is my family back… but I can’t have that. So I’ll take what I can get to avenge the people I loved.

The moment I master the dark power inside me, I’m burning this place to the ground.

302 Pages | 29 Chapters | 5.5 Hour Read

I read this book in one day. Eva Chase is becoming a go to for reverse harem stories. I immensely enjoy her worldbuilding and characters and how each plays a part individually but can still work cohesively as one unit.

I never thought of myself as an enemies-to-lovers kind of reader. In fact, that trope usually puts me off completely. However, in the case of Eva Chase’s books, it seems I am an enemies-to-lovers fan. Don’t ask me how it happened because I don’t know.

I have explored other authors enemies-to-lovers books and have still found myself completely put off by them – so Eva Chase remains the anomaly.

The day I read this book was a particularly chaotic and busy day and I needed the respite from reality that this book gave me. I read it on and off throughout one day and found it marvellous at keeping my attention and it definitely put me in an adrenaline fuelled haze.

The concept of this book introduces us to ‘Joymancers’ and ‘Fearmancers’. They are the opposing sides of magical power. Our MC, Rory, has grown up with the Joymancers but finds herself attending the Fearmancers Academy which she appropriately calls ‘Villain Academy’.

Rory is a very strong character, and she has to be for the environment she is thrusted into. She has definitely been thrown in the deep end with the sharks and if she was looking for a respite, she wasn’t getting one. She is an interesting character because her vulnerability and her strength shine in equal strength and she brings an element to the academy that was missing.

She has strong morals and equally strong feelings about what is happening. She doesn’t back down and she doesn’t hold back. Her first words to Malcolm calling him out as a bully set up the rest of the story with her as the underdog and Malcolm as the cruel bully.

Along the way we meet Malcolm, Declan, Jude, and Connor. The book has multiple P.O.V chapters giving the reader an insight into each individual.

Malcolm plays the role of villain superbly to the point that, as the reader, you really start to hate him. As ever with Chase’s books, there are hidden layers to this character that we glimpse but don’t get to explore within this book.

Jude also likes to bully and is Malcolm’s best conspirator in the mission to ‘unsettle’ Rory. He is a trickster and from what I’ve seen of him will have the biggest turnaround other than Malcolm.

Declan appears to be the shy unassuming member of the pack, but it is clear that he carries a lot of weight on his shoulders and is burdened by it. He is the one who is most similar in circumstances to Rory, but he seems keen to keep her at a distance.

Connor becomes the character that Rory is most familiar with. She sees him in a way that no one else does and he sees her as something to be treasured. However, there are clear obstacles. For one, Malcolm view of Rory and the pressure of being a ‘scion’. I think, in the future, Connor will find himself in a bit of a pickle and the secrets he has kept will come out to bite him on his bum.

There is a lot of worldbuilding going on in the background and you get a glimpse of quite a few other characters which will sure have more importance as the series continues. There is clearly something brewing under the surface. Rory’s arrival – however horrific – signals the return of something that was once lost and everyone and their uncle wants a piece of her.

We learn that the ‘Barons’ have been unable to pass any key laws as they have been missing their 5th, so everyone with some stake in the game wants to manipulate Rory to their own agenda. It can be very hard – fiction or reality – to survive in an atmosphere where everyone is out to get something, so I give high marks to Rory for managing to stand her ground through everything.

The end of this book happened much as I imagined it would but done in a way that still provided some unexpected surprises. Like previous series by Eva Chase, I know the turn from enemies-to-lovers won’t be a quick won win. I am looking forward to joining the chase and seeing where the characters end up as the series continues.

I give this book: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

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