Antony and Cleopatra. Helen of Troy and Paris. Romeo and Juliet. And now… Henry and Flora.
For centuries Love and Death have chosen their players. They have set the rules, rolled the dice, and kept close, ready to influence, angling for supremacy. And Death has always won. Always.
Could there ever be one time, one place, one pair whose love would truly tip the balance?
Meet Flora Saudade, an African-American girl who dreams of becoming the next Amelia Earhart by day and sings in the smoky jazz clubs of Seattle by night. Meet Henry Bishop, born a few blocks and a million worlds away, a white boy with his future assured—a wealthy adoptive family in the midst of the Great Depression, a college scholarship, and all the opportunities in the world seemingly available to him.
The players have been chosen. The dice have been rolled. But when human beings make moves of their own, what happens next is anyone’s guess.
Achingly romantic and brilliantly imagined, The Game of Love and Death is a love story you will never forget.
Well with a title like that this novel was bound to capture my attention: The Game of Love and Death by Martha Brockenbrough… huh!! To begin with I have to admit it took me a while to get into this novel but when I did it was a soaring in the air doing crazy flips kind of moment. If I was to use one word to describe this novel, it would be: imaginative. Loved those imaginative loop-the-loops!
The heroine Flora sings in a jazz club her parents once owned, but dreams of being a pilot, Amelia Earhart is her inspiration. But this is 1937, and Flora can’t get sponsorship to fly, due to horrible racist attitudes about her skin colour. The story is set in Hooverville, USA, at a time when racism and sexism were rife.
The characters of Love and Death have a certain fondness for each other, having spent much time locked together in an endless battle to overcome each other and win. Love chooses Henry as his player, whilst Death, picks Flora. Both end up being pretty ruthless in their desire to win, but Death has a soft side to him which is expressed in subtle and unexpected ways.
This is a tale of love between two ‘star crossed lovers,’ Flora and Henry. Henry is an orphan too but he has a wealthy family backing him, Flora only has her Grandmother. There is a particularly poignant point later in the story regarding the grandmother but rather than spoil it for you I’ll just say read it and weep. The ‘star crossed lovers’ are discouraged from being a couple purely on the basis of their differing skin colour. They are drawn into a game with deadly consequences with no realisation that they are players.
The Game Of Love And Death is also a reflection on attitudes to homosexuality at the time, played out beautifully with the character of Love taking the persona of James Booth and engaging in a relationship with Henry’s best friend Ethan.
The story is written against a fantasy backdrop – a game between two mighty game players, LOVE and DEATH. Who will win? Until now Death has always won but with the right players could Love win?
The characters of Love and Death shapeshift into people to try to influence the outcome of the game. Love is portrayed as a guy, and Death as a girl, this I liked as the girl gets to be the wicked one! Of the two game masters I enjoyed (if that is the right word to use!) Death’s persona more!
Expect surprises, interesting characters, a romance which is not overplayed, and a well researched historical background.
I thoroughly enjoyed this novel in countless ways. Highly recommended.
A few of my favourite quotes:
“Life is a temporary condition, Henry. And it’s uncertain. That’s why you have to seize chances when you find them. Pursue what you want. Take risks. Live, love…all of it. Every last one of us is going to die, but if we don’t live as we truly want, if we’re not with the one we want to be with, we’re dead already.”
“We have all the time in the world.’ Love found a record. He laid it on the player. The music started again, scratchy from age, but so sweet and beautiful and deep.
And there, in the darkness, Love and Death and the ones inside of them danced until the song was done.
And then, when all around them was silent and still, they disappeared.”
“The kiss: It felt like light rising through them. It was a memory and it was a promise, an enigma and a wonder. It was music. A conversation. A flight. A true story. And it was theirs.”
Have you read The Game of Love and Death? If so what did you think of it? Do tell.
Bye for now,
Marje @ Kyrosmagica xx