Friday, July 10, 2015

The Game of Love and Death by Martha Brockenbrough {review + giveaway}

The Game of Love and Death
by Martha Brockenbrough
♦publisher: Arthur A. Levine Books
♦release date: April 28th, 2015
♦hardcover, 329 pages
♦intended audience: Young adult
♦source: trade show/conference
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.

Review: What captures you first in The Game of Love and Death is the atmosphere. We see two figures on a dark stormy night, putting their mark on the lives of two small infants—the players of a game that will span their lifetimes. The two figures are Love and Death, and this is a game they’ve played again and again through eternity. Death is confident, cocky even, but Love is ever hopeful that this time he will be the victor. It quite a story setup, and could happen in any timeframe, but there is something about Brockenbrough’s beautiful unique writing that just breathes life into this era. It’s not just the mention of obvious historical moments from the late 30s that places the story there, or even the clothes or the music or the poverty (though all of these details are intricately woven in).  The way it’s written just makes you feel the world surrounding these characters--- the laid back pressure-release of listening to an alluring song in a nightclub, the intensity of an attraction forbidden by the racial issues of that time, the desperation of grasping at a dream that seems completely impossible because of your color or situation. 

Each character is so well thought out and interesting.  Love is patient and hopeful and all-encompassing, but also loves his player and desperate to see him win.  Death, though she seems wholly sinister, starts to let slip other sides of herself and you realize there is something of both beauty and horror of the way she takes souls.  And through the span of the game, you start to see the complexity of their relationship.   I loved that their players mirror a bit of themselves, but also the world they each live in—Henry with his insistence to see connection in everything, an unfailing kindness and a rather naïve hopefulness about him.  Flora desperation to escape into the sky and her no-nonsense look at the world make her strong but weak at the same time, as she fights to keep control of her life and her emotions. 

The fluid way this story unfolds is as bewitching and sultry as what I imagine Flora’s night club performances would have been. It encompassed issues of race, privilege, sacrifice, and love in all its complicated forms.  I was so wrapped up in these characters that I didn’t want it to end, but when it did, it took my breath away. I don’t cry often at books, but with this touching and beautiful end, there was no escaping it.  

Read this book.

Find Martha Brockenbrough online:  Website  •  Twitter  •  Tumblr

Purchase the book:  Indiebound  •  BookDepository  •  Amazon

This is definitely one that I'll be buying myself a lovely finished copy I'm passing along my signed (not personalized) ARC! 
•US mailing address only (sorry!)
•Must be 13 or older
•Ends 7/24/15
a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. At first I wasn’t sure about wanting to read this but as I have read more reviews and heard more about it I really really want to read it now!
    Some great historical YA is definitely Cleo by Lucy Coats ( just read it, it’s a little MG but yeah excellent nonetheless!) and also The Beautiful and the Cursed by Page Morgan, and Venom by Fiona Paul…there was another one but I forgot what it was! ah it’s gonna bother me now…if I remember I will let you know :)

  2. I love historical romances and there are not enough good ones in YA so I definitely plan to read this one day. Especially because I love forbidden romances. Thanks for sharing your thoughts :)
    Anyway, I am reading one great YA historical at the moment and I am loving it - Walk on Earth a Stranger by Rae Carson. I recommend!

  3. You are making me very curious about this book :D The cover is pretty awesome. <3 And it sounds great too. I hope you will end up loving this book Becky :) Fingers crossed for you. <3 Excited to see what you think of it when you get to read it :)

  4. I love stories about true love and heartache. I would love to read the game of love and death. It might not be historical but it's YA and it's about vampires which I love and bonus it's free! Yay!
    Katrina, the beginning book 1 royal blood chronicles by Elizabeth Loraine.