November 2020

The Enigma Game

By Elizabeth Wein
Review by

Scotland, 1940: At the Limehouse pub, the paths of the four protagonists of Elizabeth Wein’s gripping The Enigma Game intersect.

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Scotland, 1940: At the Limehouse pub, the paths of the four protagonists of Elizabeth Wein’s gripping The Enigma Game intersect. The proprietor hires recently orphaned Louisa as a personal assistant to her elderly, feisty Aunt Jane, an arrangement that benefits them both; getting a job has been difficult for Jamaican-born Louisa due to her dark skin, and no one wants to care for a German woman who might have once been a spy. Meanwhile, Ellen relishes the opportunity to conceal her Scottish Traveler heritage behind her respectable job as a military driver, and Flight Lieutenant Jaime Beaufort-Stuart simply hopes to bring his crew home alive after each mission. He and his fellow airmen from the nearby base each leave a sixpence in a crack in the Limehouse’s soft wood beams. If they return from their missions, they’ll use the money to buy themselves a drink; if their planes are shot down, their coins will remain as tokens, small marks upon the world.

A rogue German pilot leaves a mysterious object behind at the pub. It looks a bit like a typewriter but has additional switches and dials. Its keys, when pressed, light up, but the letter illuminated on the letter plate doesn’t match the letter typed. Louisa and Ellen work together to master the Enigma machine in order to break the German codes and feed Jaime the information he needs to save his pilots’ lives. But the codes themselves are sometimes in code, and an even larger intelligence mission waits in the wings.

Readers will enjoy The Enigma Game as a standalone thriller or as a prequel to Wein’s 2013 Printz Honor book, Code Name Verity, and 2017’s The Pearl Thief (watch for a favorite character to appear—in disguise). Highly distinct narrative voices spin a story of suspense and intrigue, including several remarkable incidents taken directly from historical records, as Wein explains in her detailed “Declaration of Accountability.” The Enigma Game furthers Wein’s streak of excellent historical fiction.

ALSO IN BOOKPAGE: Author Elizabeth Wein reveals her literary superpower and the deeply personal inspiration behind one of the protagonists of The Enigma Game.

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The Enigma Game

The Enigma Game

By Elizabeth Wein
Little, Brown
ISBN 9781368012584

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