Blog Tour Book Review: THE ENIGMA GAME by Elizabeth Wein

I received a review copy as part of the blog tour in exchange for an honest review. It has not affected my opinions.

Title in black in a typewriter print against clouds
Genre: Historical
Age Range: YA
Star Rating: 5 stars
Series: Standalone in established world
CW: war death, racist microaggressions


Book cover for THE ENIGMA GAME: title above a girl's face

1940. Facing a seemingly endless war, fifteen-year-old Louisa Adair wants to fight back, make a difference, do something-anything to escape the Blitz and the ghosts of her parents, who were killed by enemy action.

But when she accepts a position caring for an elderly German woman in the small village of Windyedge, Scotland, it hardly seems like a meaningful contribution. Still, the war feels closer than ever in Windyedge, where Ellen McEwen, a volunteer driver with the Royal Air Force, and Jamie Beaufort-Stuart, a flight leader for the 648 Squadron, are facing a barrage of unbreakable code and enemy attacks they can’t anticipate.

Their paths converge when a German pilot lands in Windyedge under mysterious circumstances and plants a key that leads Louisa to an unparalleled discovery: an Enigma machine that translates German code. Louisa, Ellen, and Jamie must work together to unravel a puzzle that could turn the tide of the war? but doing so will put them directly in the cross-hairs of the enemy.

Synopsis taken from Goodreads. Add to your shelves here.

About the Author:

Image of a lady with curly brown bob against green leaves

Elizabeth Wein is a church bell ringer, a recreational pilot, and the owner of about a thousand maps. She grew up in England, Jamaica,and Pennsylvania, and has lived in Scotland since 2000, where she learned to fly at the Scottish Aero Club. She is best known for her historical fiction about young women as aviators in World War II, including Code Name Verity (2012), which became a New York Times bestseller and was shortlisted for the Carnegie Medal. Elizabeth holds both American and British citizenship; she is married to games developer Tim Gatland and they have two grown children.


This was such a great read, and it makes me want to pick up the other books in this world again. You know a book has hold of you when it appears in your dreams (only problem was that it was an airplane dogfight, so not an easy night’s sleep!)

I’ve always been interested in the code and intelligence side of WW2, largely because of the mathematics behind it (science student here!). I really liked how this book focused on the consequences of the enigma machine, and showed why British Intelligence was so careful about the information revealed, without it ever being a spy story. The Code Breakers never appear and the Intelligence Unit don’t have a big role. Instead, it’s the three teens who find the machine and use it – without understanding the consequences or larger game being played.

As it lacked this trench-coat, spy flavour, the book could instead focus on the characters and their relationships. It’s told from all three perspectives; Lousia, a half-Jamaican girl caring for an elderly lady and accidentally in possession of an enigma machine; Ellen, a Traveller working as the airfield’s driver; and Jamie fighting to keep his squadron in line and holding off their nightmarish commander.

They each have a very distinct dialect, that helps distinguish them. Jamie, Lousia, and Ellen have their own slang and cadence. There are no romances in this book, instead it focuses on all sort of friendships, and that’s what made it so engaging.

It also shines a light on the other perspectives and roles in war. Jamie might be a fighter pilot, but his squadron have pretty useless planes that we don’t learn about. Cramped and far from optimal for fighting, Jamie is outmatched in the sky. Ellen is an auxiliary driver, a far from glamorous job that keeps the airfield running. Louisa is just trying to care for an elderly lady who she cares deeply for, but the war can’t leave anyone alone. They’re not the heroes you usually see in WW2 fiction.

This book is set in the same world as CODE NAME VERITY, with a few characters from that series showing up. It’s been ages since I read VERITY, so I only know of two characters (and one because it was in the press release!). You absolutely don’t have to read VERITY to follow this book – for one, it’s set three years before VERITY.

Blog tour banner: image of book next to the names of the participating bloggers

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