When her mother is killed in the Blitz, and her father’s ship goes down, Louisa Adair feels she has lost everything. The country she has called home since her family left Jamaica is not a friendly place for an orphaned girl with brown skin, and she badly needs money and a roof over her head.
Finally she finds work looking after an old lady at a pub near an airfield in Scotland. There she meets Ellen, a driver for the RAF, and Jamie, a pilot – two other young people just as exhausted by the toll the war has taken on their loved ones, and just as desperate for a way to fight back.
Then the impossible happens. A German defector lands at the airfield carrying a precious package, and Louisa, Jamie and Ellen find themselves hiding a codebreaking machine that could alter the course of the war. But there are powerful people hunting for the machine, and soon Louisa and her friends are playing a deadly game that threatens everything they hold dear.
For the past 2 weeks I have been transformed every night to a tiny village on the coast of Scotland in 1940. And it has been amazing.
I love historical YA books and this was no exception. Of course it is not the first Elizabeth Wein book I have read and I loved Rose Under Fire so I knew I would love this one too.
The Enigma Game is told from the point of view of three different characters and they are all very important to the story. Jamie is obviously hands on in the war effort and is a fight commander. Ellen is a traveller, hiding her identity as one from everyone while playing her part as a driver for the Auxiliary Territorial Service and Louisa is a half Jamaican, half English girl who has just lost both her parents but wants to do her bit.
The book was a bit difficult to get into first as there was a bit of a back story, with lengthy extracts from the three characters. I found it easier and much faster paced once they were all in the same place, acquainted with one another and playing parts in the same narrative. The narrative was exciting and fast paced and I really enjoyed it because of this. I could see everything that happened being an actual part of the war.
The characters throughout the book really brought it to life and I loved the way you got to know what they were all like because of the way the three different narrators talked about them. Each of Jamies squad members could be pictured strongly in my head and the German defector was a very prominent character. I loved the introduction of Miss Lind part way through the book and what she meant for Louisa’s character particularly at the end of the book. Jane was my favourite though, she was fearless and I could just see her so vividly in my head. She’s the kind of woman I would love to have spent any amount of time with and her impact on Louisa is really beautiful to see.
The book looks at race and colour in a way that I don’t think I’ve really seen any war book do before. The authors notes at the end of the book were fascinating and I never knew Scotland housed so many different nationalities throughout the war.
I would definitely recommend this book and Elizabeth Wein’s other war time novels for anyone who is studying English Literature at A Level with a war module, and anyone with an interest in history too.
The Enigma Game was published on 14th May 2020. My copy was sent to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.