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Game of Secrets

Review

Game of Secrets

GAME OF SECRETS is a sweeping, adventurous tale set in the glitz and glamour of the Victorian Era.

Felicity Cole is a poor, orphaned teenager who sells flowers on the street to support herself and her younger brother, Nate. The two live relatively isolated lives because they have to keep Nate’s secret --- he is a Tainted, or a member of society that possesses superhuman abilities. In Nate’s case, he can read minds and communicate telepathically with others. All is well, despite their financial struggles in the slums of London, until one day something terrible happens and Felicity comes to a horrifying realization: she, too, is Tainted, born with advanced physical strength. On the eve of execution, Felicity is rescued by the headmaster of a school for other Tainted and taken there to begin training to be a member of a secret order in service of the Queen.

"GAME OF SECRETS is an action-packed standalone thrill ride, perfect for fans of X-Men and The Infernal Devices."

One aspect of the novel that I found enjoyable is the world building. Foster went to great lengths to accurately depict the world of Victorian England, and her descriptions, from the bustling city streets to the rolling hills of the British countryside, were exquisite. The world she created within the one in our history books was really fascinating, as well. Because of the secret school of superhuman kids, it reminded me a lot of X-Men, which was really fun to read about with the twist of it taking place in the past. The author also used quotes from authors active during the Victorian era and the 1800s at large for headings at the beginning of every chapter, which was really cool. The quotes matched the tone and events of every chapter, which further shows the level of research that the author embarked upon for this novel.

Felicity was a great character to get to know. She loves reading, is street smart and witty, and has some excellent one-liners. I will say that sometimes it felt like her narrative voice was very different from the voice presented in her dialogue. The novel is told from her point of view, and the tone is consistently serious, which would sometimes clash when she had verbally combative moments with the other students at the school and would rattle off witty, sarcastic remarks. Additionally, the author waited a long time before Felicity became interested in actually exploring and expanding upon her abilities, and it would have helped the story along if she had become interested in doing so sooner. Nevertheless, watching her develop from a fish out of water to a fiercely strong woman was fantastic.

While I felt that Foster did a great job developing Felicity and the world, I do think she should have spent more time developing the supporting characters. For example, I knew the male lead, Julian, well, but only because he seemed a bit too similar to other swaggering, talented and sarcastic young men in other young adult novels. While I liked parts of his relationship with Felicity, at times it felt simultaneously sudden and underdeveloped. One instant they were strangers, the other he seemed completely taken with her. I also wish Foster spent more time developing the other students at the school. We only get bits and pieces of them here and there, and since there were only five of them, I think they should have been more fleshed out.

Lastly, while the plot was interesting --- Spies, assassination plots and betrayals? Yes, please! ---  it did seem at times as though there was a lot of meandering between each “big event.” Not much happens in between the big chase scenes, so to speak (though those were quite exciting). These waiting around times would have been good for starting the development of Felicity’s powers sooner, since that part of the story develops later in the novel and could have used more subtle growth.

GAME OF SECRETS is an action-packed standalone thrill ride, perfect for fans of X-Men and The Infernal Devices. Though presented as a standalone, the author could easily write another book, so I would be on the lookout in the future for some more novels about Felicity Cole and her wild adventures!

Reviewed by Cat Barra on August 14, 2018

Game of Secrets
by Kim Foster