by Elizabeth Wein
“Windyedge Aerodrome sits on top of the moor above the fishing village it is named for, just south of Aberdeen. It has sat there some time, built before the Great War, in the early days of flying. About it runs a small proud stone wall, with its good looks all ruined by a high wire fence topped off with barbs. The road follows the wall for a mile and a half, past lookout towers and bunkers for antiaircraft cannons. The other side of the road is all wind-bent hedge and fields and wild woodland.”
Ratings & Reviews
Book Grade: A
The Enigma Game is cleverly written with strong characters and a rapid-fire plot. I loved the dimension that each of the figures brought to the plot – even Jane, who might be dismissed as an elderly figure, is charming and elevates the story in beautiful ways.
I loved the unique location of this story – so many stories are set in London and I appreciate this fresh take – the Scottish landscape plays a role in the story in such a lovely way! I also appreciated the rich descriptions of the flight crews and the battle scenes. Jamie and the rest of the pilots were fascinating and I loved the representations of soldiers from nations all over the globe – from the comments in the cockpit to their attitudes in the pub, the young men brought color to the book in an unexpected way.
For fans of historical fiction, this was a true treat. The rich details make the story vibrant and compelling, and the little historical nuggets scattered throughout are fascinating. For example, the scene on the Isle of Man with an abundance of dairy products brought up all sorts of things that I didn’t know. Even the scenes flying toward Norway brought up details about the technology available to the military during this time. Overall, this book has an action-packed plot, delightful characters, and a unique setting which makes it a fabulous and fascinating read!
Movie Rating: PG
The Enigma Game is a compelling historical fiction novel, but there is little that will prove inappropriate to readers. There is mention of race, death, and a scene where one of the characters goes to help another and is only partially dressed because of the urgency of the situation. The details incorporated into the story may appeal to an older reader, but the diverse protagonists will appeal to historical fiction fans grade 8 and up.
Would I Buy This for My Library: Yes
The Enigma Game is rich historical fiction, so it likely won’t draw everyone in, but readers who give it a chance will be captivated by the narrators, the unexpected arrival of a Nazi traitor, the discovery of the Enigma box, and so many more thrilling events. The cover is lovely and given the narrative structure of the novel, it is a charming and easy read.
Louisa is all alone in London – both of her parent recently died due to the War – and at only 15, she is forced to find a job. She finds that no one is willing to hire her because of her mixed race – her mother is British and her father is Jamaican – and opts to take a risky job that will involve her watching a little old lady in remote Scotland. Louisa couldn’t anticipate that Jane, her new charge, would be a feisty and determined German immigrant who has worked hard to build her life as a British citizen. When the two of them get settled into Jane’s niece’s pub and inn, they anticipate a dull small town life; little do they know it will be filled with action.
In short order, they meet Ellen, a young woman working at the airfield who carries a secret of her own, and Jamie, a young pilot who must deal with mounting animosity from his superior officer. Learning all about Windyedge’s traditions and increasingly building a bond with Jane, Louisa is alarmed when a German soldier shows up in the pub seeking temporary refuge while awaiting a meeting with his secret contact. When he swiftly departs in the morning, he says little, but leaves behind an Engima machine – a code breaker that allows Louisa to help decipher messages from Nazi pilots.
With twists, turns, and historical details, The Enigma Game focuses on three strong characters who all work hard to play a part in the UK wartime effort. As challenges arise, and lives are on the line, the three of them must work together to undermine the Nazi efforts, protect Scotland, and win the war. Things only get more intense when Louisa unearths evidence that the Germans suspect the British soldiers are able to crack their code and may be setting a trap for them.
Thoughtfully written and well researched, The Enigma Game cleverly focuses on three unique stories in one collaborative war effort.
Book Talk Questions:
- What prompts Louisa to take a job so far away from London? What are her initial thoughts about Jane?
- What does Jane sneak from the prison? What does this suggest about her nature?
- What is Ellen’s secret? When does this get revealed and how does it change the way others see her?
- Describe the pilot, Baer. What do his actions suggest to Louisa? What makes her suspect he left something for her?
- How does Louisa finally broach the subject of the Enigma machine with Jamie? Why can’t he tell his commanding officers or the other pilots? How do they conceal the source?
- When does Louisa realize that Windyedge is in danger? What ends up happening to the pub? How does the impact Jane, Nan, Ellen, and Louisa?
A Perfect Read for Fans Of…
- Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein
- The Book Thief by Markus Zuzak
- Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys