Book Review: Immortal Longings by Chloe Gong

About the Book:

Title: Immortal Longings

Author: Chloe Gong

Series: Flesh and False Gods #1

Page Length: 384

Publication Date: July 18, 2023

Publisher: Gallery Books

Synopsis: Every year, thousands in the kingdom of Talin will flock to its capital twin cities, San-Er, where the palace hosts a set of games. For those confident enough in their ability to jump between bodies, competitors across San-Er fight to the death to win unimaginable riches.

Princess Calla Tuoleimi lurks in hiding. Five years ago, a massacre killed her parents and left the palace of Er empty…and she was the one who did it. Before King Kasa’s forces in San can catch her, she plans to finish the job and bring down the monarchy. Her reclusive uncle always greets the victor of the games, so if she wins, she gets her opportunity at last to kill him.

Enter Anton Makusa, an exiled aristocrat. His childhood love has lain in a coma since they were both ousted from the palace, and he’s deep in debt trying to keep her alive. Thankfully, he’s one of the best jumpers in the kingdom, flitting from body to body at will. His last chance at saving her is entering the games and winning.

Calla finds both an unexpected alliance with Anton and help from King Kasa’s adopted son, August, who wants to mend Talin’s ills. But the three of them have very different goals, even as Calla and Anton’s partnership spirals into something all-consuming. Before the games close, Calla must decide what she’s playing for—her lover or her kingdom.

LINKS:   Goodreads   |    Amazon

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My Review:

“There are no gods in this world. Only kings and tyrants.”

I’m a big fan of Chloe Gong’s work, so I jumped at the chance to read an advanced copy of Immortal Longings. It’s a fabulous read, and it’s Gong’s first venture into adult fantasy. A retelling of Shakespeare’s Antony and Cleopatra with intriguing, complicated, and morally grey characters, intricate and vivid world-building, and a layered and action-packed plot, the book was hard to put down.

I’ve read all of Gong’s books, and I have to say, she really speaks to my Shakespeare-loving heart. The way she twines the classic plays into a fresh and original fantasy is amazing. The plot weaves in elements that pay homage to the classic tale, creating a fascinating parallel that adds depth and richness to the story. And I love her writing style. The pacing and flow, the clever turn of phrases, and the vivid imagery; Gong is a talented storyteller who easily pulled me into the story.

The novel has some Hunger Games similarities, as the main characters have entered into a contest where they compete to the death. However, in Immortal Longings, citizens enter the game willingly. The games, violent, vicious, and highly publicized and viewed, are used to control and distract citizens. The book brilliantly combines the captivating elements of Antony and Cleopatra, The Hunger Games game-based control , and the vibrant atmosphere and influences from 1990s Hong Kong’s Kowloon Walled City. The author masterfully blends these worlds, immersing you in a unique and enthralling backdrop that feels both familiar and fresh. The gritty streets and bustling markets of 1990s Hong Kong, paired with the high-stakes and intense challenges of the games, create an atmospheric reading experience that kept me hooked from start to finish.

It also has a really unique magic system, and I was so intrigued by the concept of body jumping. Some characters have the ability to jump into other people’s bodies. This was so fascinating, and a little bit terrifying, especially as you learn all the ways people and the government use and manipulate this power.

And I loved the characters, which is unexpected since they are all so mysterious, morally grey, and brutal. But they are also layered and fascinating, and I found myself fully invested in their stories. Calla is fierce and ruthless, and she’s determined to end the monarchy that controls the kingdom. If I were in this society and betting on the games, I would totally bet on her. However, Anton is some fierce competition, and he has an important reason to win the games.

Anton, who has been banished, enters the games to continue to care for his childhood love, who has been in a kind of coma for years. Calla and Anton become allies in the games, but the lines between them quickly blur, and I was 100% on board with their competitors-to-lovers romance! And then there’s August, the heir to the throne. He is the most enigmatic of the main characters, and I constantly questioned his sincerity and motivations. Does he want what’s best for the kingdom? Are his intentions true?

The plot is as intricately layered as the setting and characters, and there are several twists that totally stunned me. It’s well-paced with a slower beginning and the action and stakes ramping up as the story progresses until there’s total chaos and an epic and intense ending (a lot like Shakespeare’s plays). I have so many questions, and I’m excited to see if they’ll be answered in the next book. It’s definitely the type of ending that leaves you desperately wanting more. And after that ending, I NEED the next book ASAP!

Special thanks to Gallery Books for sending me a copy of the book. All thoughts are my own.



Favorite Lines:

“Love isn’t deserved. It is given freely.”

“There’s beggary in a love that can be counted and calculated.”

“Calla can handle pain. She can handle blood. But this – this is somehow all and none of that at once, a wrenching in her very soul.

This is tenderness. And she was more afraid of it than anything else in their forsaken kingdom.”

“For someone who remembers what it was like to be helpless, power feels different.”

“I know you, under any circumstance.”


  • enemies to lovers
  • slow burn
  • dystopian elements
  • deadly competition

9 thoughts on “Book Review: Immortal Longings by Chloe Gong

  1. I’ve been wondering about this one and now I want to read it. Excellent review! I don’t think I’ve ever read a story that’s a retelling of Shakespeare’s Anthony and Cleopatra.

  2. Great review. I ended up skipping this one in my book sub because I don’t really care about Shakespeare retellings so much, nor am I still in my Hunger Games era. BUT I’m glad you enjoyed it. 🙂

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