cover image The Betrayals

The Betrayals

Bridget Collins. Morrow, $27.99 (416p) ISBN 978-0-06-283812-4

Collins (The Binding) delivers a vague, disappointing historical fantasy about an elite academy in the mountains of an unnamed European nation. The all-boys academy of Montverre teaches the grand jeu, the country’s national game, a complex mix of music, math, philosophy, and art that remains hazily defined throughout the novel. Thirty-two-year-old Léo Martin is a Montverre alum who returns to the academy to teach after his political career ends in disgrace when he criticizes the Party for their totalitarian views. Upon his return, Léo learns that the prestigious position of Magister Ludi is held by a woman, Claire Dryden, much to the chagrin of the other Magisters. Claire neither likes nor trusts Léo, believing him to be a government spy—but Léo feels an unnerving connection to Claire, as though they’ve met before. As the academy’s yearly Midsummer Game draws near, the long-standing lies Léo and Claire have both built their lives around unravel and their intertwined backstories come to light, sparking a slow-burning romance. The atmospheric descriptions and a few unexpected twists do little to offset the murky worldbuilding and slow-moving plot. This is an easy one to skip. Agent: Eleanor Jackson, Dunow, Carlson & Lerner Literary. (May.)