Author: Rachel Menard
Publisher: Flux Books
Publication Date: June 7, 2022
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Rating: ✈️ ✈️ ✈️ ✈️.5 out of ✈️ ✈️ ✈️ ✈️ ✈️
Source: I received an e-arc from the publisher in exchange for an honest review and as a part of my participation in the tour hosted by TBR and Beyond Tours.
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.
Menard’s debut is a fast paced roller coaster of a ride that grabbed me from the first page and that I found difficult to put down until it was over. Being a long time fan of all things Greek mythology I absolutely loved this gender bent take on the 12 labors of Hercules I found to be both unique and exciting as this time the labors not only were transformed to fit the storyline of the book, but also that there were two people, Castor and Gen, who were in competition to complete the most labors in order to score their request from the Empresses.
While Castor and Gen are the two main characters of this book, I found that it was Gen who I was rooting for the entire time. I loved Gen not only because she’s the complete antithesis to her rival Castor, but also because of how caring of a character she is. Gen’s quest to free her father for a crime that she knows he couldn’t have possibly done, all while trying to cause the least amount of harm and death possible made her the character I couldn’t help but love. Where Gen is sweet and caring, Castor is out to complete these trials by any means necessary, even if doing so means potentially killing not only Gen but her twin brother Pollux as well.
With moments of humor found in the cleaning of the stables of Augeas, to the starry-eyed Pollux who’s been in love with Gen for years, to pulse pounding fight scenes, Games of Strength and Storm was both a pure joy to read as well as the first book in a long time I’ve read in a single day. I look forward to reading more from this world and from this author as Menard has left me clamoring for more.
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.