Thank you TBR and Beyond Tour and Flux Books for a review copy and the opportunity to be on this tour.
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.
I have to say – this was a pretty enjoyable read. I enjoyed the focus of Greek mythology in the plot and scenery. I am not well versed in the Hercules 12 labors so IK had to do a bit of research to under this was a genderbent retold version of it. However, not having this knowledge ahead of time did not hinder my ability to enjoy this story. Game of Strength and Storm has multiple points of views, which is always a selling point for me. I like to dive into a story and hear the perspective of the main characters. Rachel Menard was bale to write POV’s well and create a storyline that did not feel disconnected. It was a fast paced read that didn’t feel too predictable.
There are ten winners and those ten winners can receive a wish. But there’s a catch – they have to complete/win 6 of the 10 tasks needed to have their wish granted by the Empress. The competition aspect of the story sold me heavily and was one of the main reasons I continued reading on. It gave the nostalgic feeling form the books I read as a teen of competitions and survival.
When thinking of the characters, I enjoyed Gen, Castor and Pollux for very different reasons. Gen has the ability to speak to animals and has a wish to free her father from prison. Gen felt like the character with the moral compass. Her storyline was similar to Castor because their wish to rule could feed their other wishes. What I admired most about Gen was her love towards her family. She was truly fighting for them and it showed. Castor is also a very strong character, but may be going about things in an unpopular opinion kind of way. Pollux, her brother is next in line to rule their island of Arcadia – the very throne Castor wants. Her mission is to dismantle the misogyny by having her wish granted to become the next ruler. Sounds great right? Well when you have a teddy bear, sweetheart of a brother, it is hard to focus or root for someone who wants to see his lineage disrupted to become Queen. Regardless of Castor’s not so altruistic wish, her determination and strong will make her a force to be reckoned with.
There was a small romance brewing between Gen and Pollux but I felt that it wasn’t developed enough to know if it would be a developing relationship or just a crush. I’d be excited to see overall how the story along with the romance pans out in future books.
About the Author
Rachel Menard was born in New Jersey, raised in Arizona, and then relocated to Rhode Island. Throughout her life she has been a barista, college radio DJ, singer in an alt-country band, marketer, designer, and finally, a writer. Her short fiction has been featured on the Cast of Wonders podcast and her non-fiction has been seen in Writer’s Digest. Her debut novel, Game of Strength and Storm, is coming from Flux Books in 2022.