About the Book:
Title: Game of Strength and Storm
Author: Rachel Menard
Page Length: 400
Publication Date: June 7, 2022
Synopsis: Victory is the only option.
Once a year, the Olympian Empresses grant the wishes of ten people selected by a lottery—for a price. Seventeen-year-old Gen, a former circus performer, wants the freedom of her father, who was sentenced to life in prison for murders she knows he didn’t commit. Castor plans to carry the island Arcadia into the future in place of her brother, Pollux, but only after the Empresses force a change in her island’s archaic laws that requires a male heir.
To get what they want, Gen and Castor must race to complete the better half of ten nearly impossible labors. They have to catch the fastest ship in the sea, slay the immortal Hydra, defeat a gangster called the Boar, and capture the flesh-eating Mares, among other deadly tasks.
Gen has her magic, her ability to speak to animals, her inhuman strength—and the help of Pollux, who’s been secretly pining for her for years. But Castor has her own gifts: the power of the storms, along with endless coin. Only one can win. The other walks away with nothing—if she walks away at all.
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As soon as I saw that this story was a gender-bent Hercules reimagining, I knew I needed to read the book! I love Greek mythology, retellings, and stories with strong female protagonists, and this ya fantasy offers a unique reimagining of Hercules tale and the Olympic Games. It’s an action-packed adventure with a strong cast of characters, cool magical creatures and powers, and vivid world-building.
Gen is such an interesting protagonist. Strong and determined, her main motivation is to rescue her father, who has been imprisoned for murder. She goes through a lot over the course of the story and is put through so many trials, but she never gives up on her desire to free her father. She is a compassionate and kind person with a deep love for family and animals. And her connection to the animals is fantastic. I love that she tries to find balance with these animals instead of using her powers and the animals to get what she wants. She has strong morals and shows deep respect for living things.
Castor, the other person vying for the Empress’s granted wish, wants to rule the patriarchal kingdom in which she lives. However, her brother is in line for the throne even though he is not well suited. Like Gen, Castor is strong and determined, but unlike Gen, she is also pretty ruthless when she needs to be. I found her story really interesting and wanted to learn more about this vicious and sometimes cruel character, and I wish there were more chapters from her perspective. Pollux is so different from his sister and favors art and music to power and control. I think he is often underestimated and considered weaker than his sister, but he is strong and determined in his own right.
I really like the powerful and relevant messages about equality and women’s rights that come up particularly in Castor’s journey. I always enjoy when books weave relevant and important issues into fiction, like the themes of equality, fighting for those you love, and more. There are some parts of the story that fell a bit flat for me, including the romance, which seemed a bit forced. Also, I found the world-building less developed than I hoped and the story hard to get into initially, but I’m glad I stuck it out because it ended up being a pretty action-packed and entertaining read.
Special thanks to Flux Books and NetGalley for providing me with an advanced copy of the book. All thoughts are my own.
- The characters.
- The magical elements.
- The themes.
I think this will appeal to readers who enjoy ya fantasy or mythological reimaginings.