Huge thanks to TBR and Beyond Tours, as well as the author and publisher for giving me a copy of “The Immortal Game” in exchange for a honest review! All quotes in my review may change upon release date. And thanks to the authors for giving me the opportunity to interview them! You can click on the banner below to go to the full schedule and explore other’s posts!
About the Book
Title: The Immortal Game
Authors: Talia Rothschild & A.C. Harvey
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Publication Date: May 25th, 2021
Content Warning: Emotional abuse, battle scenes, up-close death
Final Rating: 4 Stars
An exiled goddess goes on a quest to clear her name and save Mount Olympus in Talia Rothschild & A. C. Harvey’s action-packed young adult debut, The Immortal Game!
Galene, daughter of Poseidon, desperately wants to earn her place among the gods. But when a violent attack leaves Mount Olympus in chaos and ruins, she is accused of the crime. Banished from Olympus, Galene sets out to prove her innocence and discovers a more deadly plot—one that threatens even the oldest of Immortals.
Fortunately, she has allies who willingly join her in exile:
A lifelong friend who commands the wind.
A defiant warrior with deadly skill.
A fire-wielder with a hero’s heart.
A mastermind who plays life like a game.
All-out war is knocking at the gates. Galene and her friends are the only ones who can tip the scales toward justice, but their choices could save Olympus from total annihilation, or be the doom of them all.
For those who don’t know, what is your young adult fantasy novel, The Immortal Game, about?
The Immortal Game follows young, still unknown gods and goddesses on Mount Olympus. Galene, our foremost protagonist, is the daughter of Poseidon, with power over the tides. She is accused of a crime and banished from Olympus, and has to fight to clear her name and save her home. She does so alongside four comrades:
Iyana, Galene’s best friend and passionate daughter of Zeus.
Kostas, the newly established God of Games, who can feel and see emotions.
Braxtus, son of Apollo, a loyal friend who wields fire.
Demitri, an intense, attractive son of Ares, whose fighting skills are unmatched.
Check out our jacket copy—it says it all far better than we just did!
When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
Ash: Through the end of elementary school and Junior High I was writing stories with friends and by myself. I have a really vivid imagination and writing was a way to capture that. I can’t think of an exact moment I knew, but somewhere in 7th grade I decided that I would be a writer no matter what. That was about the time I also wanted to be a paleontologist, so I’m glad at least one of my young dreams is working out haha.
Talia: My mom claims I’ve been a storyteller since birth (haha), but I remember the thrill I had the first time I finished writing down a story—in second grade! I don’t know if there was ever really one moment. My love for reading and my crazy imagination (which labeled me “immature” when I still wanted to sword fight and play make-believe, even after my friends had grown out of it) all played into it. Somewhere in Junior High my hobby for writing stories became my passion, and I knew that’s what I wanted to do!
What was the inspiration for The Immortal Game?
We were inspired at the age of 13, at a sleepover! We’d been close friends since the fifth grade, but we’d finally outgrown make-believe games. So, instead of play-acting, we decided to write down a story instead! Driven by our passion for mythology (largely sparked by the Percy Jackson series), we created characters and a world among the Greek pantheon, and with that, The Immortal Game was born. 🙂 We found inspiration in other books, movies, and ultimately, each other, as we talked through some of the most epic ideas we had.
What was the publishing process like?
Our journey is so unique! Once we’d come up with the story as 13-year-olds, we started with a single notebook, passing it back and forth for the other to write the next chapter. By the time we reached college, we’d written and rewritten our book. Finally, in 2018, we decided to do something with our newly refurbished manuscript, and put it up on swoonreads.com (which has since rolled into fiercereads.com). A handful of positive reviews and a couple of months later, we got an email from Swoon Reads, an imprint of Macmillan, saying they wanted to set up a phone call with us, and to keep their email confidential. We can’t adequately describe our stunned, ecstatic gratitude—our dream literally came true! We plunged headfirst into the publishing world as best friends and coauthors with the same dream.
As for the process after that, the next months were a blur of phone calls and emails, trying to navigate the new, complicated world of traditional publishing. Ashleigh’s old friend and writing group companion from college, Ben Grange, became our agent. We signed a contract, announced our book to the world, and started editing! We actually ended up with three pretty hefty edit letters—three pretty intense rewrites that took place over the next year. While the heart of the story never changed, the overall structure vastly improved!
Then there were line edits, copy edits, the cover reveal… and then we dove into promotional work. There is so much more that goes into publishing a book than we had ever appreciated before. Sometimes it’s still hard to believe all that has transpired.
We feel so blessed to have this opportunity! We can’t wait to keep putting stories out into the world, both independently, and one day in the future, again as coauthors.
What is your writing process like?
Answering this from a coauthoring standpoint!
Ash: Because we started this journey together, and we’re so like-minded when it comes to stories and writing, it was actually fun and pretty easy to write together! We got a good system down for writing and editing, switching off chapters and blending our voices. We were helpers and cheerleaders to each other, and I think the story is only as good as it is now because we wrote it together! True, there have been hard times and strains put on our relationship due to conflicting ideas and expectations, but in the end, it only made our friendship stronger and more durable.
Talia: I loved writing with Ashleigh—not very many coauthors are lucky enough to have the synergy we have. We started by passing a notebook back and forth to write subsequent chapters, and that transitioned into typing our story and editing each others’ work! Developing characters and story with someone just as invested, who got it like I did, was so fun! I loved sending an epic scene I’d just finished off to Ashleigh, anticipating her reaction. I loved staying up till 5 AM with her to finish our first draft! Writing a book with your best friend is so much less lonely than writing alone. 🙂
What was the best part about writing The Immortal Game?
Ash: The best part of writing this book was the years of creating and writing I spent with one of my best friends. It kept us close when we would have naturally drifted apart, and it was amazing learning and growing as writers together. It was SO much fun, basically just a decade long extension of that sleepover we had in 7th grade 🙂
Talia: I love Ashleigh’s answer! Mine is similar. I really loved every step of it—passing notebooks back and forth, working toward deadlines, developing character and story at sleepovers, diving into a new draft—but I really loved looking back on all the years of writing The Immortal Game and seeing how far our story, our writing, and our friendship has come. The payoff of all our work has been so rewarding!
What do you think makes a good story?
Ash: Relatable and inspiring characters, as well as a story that grips and pulls the emotions to a straining point. Readers should finish the story feeling changed and inspired in one form or another, it should linger with them even after the book has been put away and they’re moving on to new things.
Talia: That is such a difficult question for me to answer! Oftentimes, I feel like what makes one story amazing isn’t necessary for another. But a general answer would be conflict—a difficult fight for something good or right that readers can get invested in, complete with sacrifices, loss, and ultimate triumph.
And finally, do you have any advice for aspiring authors?
Ash: Do whatever you can to reach your dreams. Do the work! It’s FUN work and so fulfilling. Make the time to write, read, practice, learn and grow. Make the sacrifices for your passion and it will reward you 🙂 Never give up, despite all the rejections you WILL get. Dedicate yourself, be patient, and do the work. Also, surround yourself with people who feel the same way and will encourage you and help you reach those great heights you aspire to.
Talia: YES to everything Ash said! Part of doing the work, for me, is carving out time to write. It’s not going to magically appear—you have to proactively prioritize writing over a lot of other things in your life. Find a system that works for you, and don’t give up! Go to conferences, network, research, join writing groups, put yourself and your work out there! Fill your life with the things that inspire you. Please be open to feedback and remember, even the most successful of authors have been told no time and time again, so don’t give up.
Action-packed, beautifully written, and fierce!
I wish this wasn’t a standalone. I need more of these characters.
I am the daughter of Poseidon, God of the Seas.
I will save my friends. I will clear my name.
I will tame the sea.
Galene is such a badass. She’s honestly so cool. I love her personality and her strength. (And Poseidon is my favorite greek god so . . . ) I found her inner conflict really interesting, with one side being her loyalty to Olympus and the Olympians, and the other her anger at being punished for a crime she didn’t commit. Her inner struggles added a whole new depth to her character and it was really fascinating reading about it.
She leaned close to whisper in his ear. “I’m done with your games.”
This queen. Iyana is a queen, no one can argue with me. I love her so much. Her character development was amazing. She goes from a shy, sweet girl to a brave, strong warrior and I was there for it. I love her loyalty and her friendship with Galene, and just the way she cares about her. Iyana is probably my favorite character, and that’s saying something because I loved Kostas.
Speaking of Kostas . . .
Everything is a game.
Kostas and Galene are so cute— I literally can’t. And Kostas is the best. He’s the son of Hermes, and the God of Games (which is actually so cool). I love that he can read other’s emotions and how he’s always trying to cheer everyone up. He’s so sweet and is probably the most level headed of the group. I loved his romance with Galene and his friendship with Braxtus is honestly the best (As Lia mentioned, Kostas punching Braxtus is such a good scene lol.) Also, the fact that Kostas low-key ships Iyana and Braxtus is so amazing (“Kostas looked to Braxtus. He would love her better.“)
Braxtus was probably my least favorite character. I didn’t really care about him, though I shipped him and Iyana from the beginning. He could be really infuriating, but I guess I understood why he acted so reckless. But he did really annoy me.
Being a hero is about fighting for something bigger than yourself, despite the obstacles, despite the fear.
The world building was pretty good. It wasn’t as detailed as I would have liked it, because greek mythology is such an interesting subject there could have been so many different ways the authors could have gone. But it wasn’t an info dump either, so I can’t really complain. I just wish it was a little more rich and comprehensive.
There were two things I didn’t love about this book; the pacing and the culprit. Let me explain.
The pacing was a bit off. Most times, it was nice and fast-paced, but it took me quite a long time to actually be interested in the story. I feel like a book should draw you in from the start, but despite the fact that the book jumps right into the action, it felt a bit flat and it took me some time to start caring about the characters (Except for Kostas. I loved him from the beginning). I wish we got to see more world-building right from the start.
And the person who framed Galene? That was obvious. Maybe it’s just because I watch a lot of mystery, but I was able to guess who framed Galene pretty quick. I wouldn’t want the culprit to change, but I just want it to be less obvious. I feel like most people would be able to guess who it was.
But overall, I recommend this to anyone who enjoys reading about mythology, or just wants a quick and fast paced read.
Go prove yourself a goddess fit to be worshipped.
I have never felt more free, and isn’t freedom more important than eternal life?
Battle leaves a mark.
About the Authors
Talia Rothschild, Italian American, is passionate about stories in many forms— music, dance,
photography, film and, of course, great novels. She believes in thick hot chocolate and creamer in your tea. When she’s not happily writing, she’s mothering the sweetest baby girl and making
memories with her husband.
Ashleigh Harvey is teaching high school physics and bringing her writing dreams to life. English-born and world-traveled, she loves filling her life with new adventures, such as visiting a new country or exploring the Wild West with her husband. She also finds escape in movies, music, literature, and yearly comic conventions.