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The Enigma Game

Written by Elizabeth Wein

Key Stage 3 General Fiction Gritty Reads Historical Fiction Thrillers

LoveReading View on The Enigma Game

Cracking WWII story in which a young Jamaican Briton’s ingenuity makes remarkable impact

Shortlisted for the UKLA Book Awards 2021 | June 2020 Book of the Month

Teeming with drama and compelling code-cracking action, this WWII thriller is driven by the lives of three young people determined to make their mark on the war effort, and by the life-affirming relationship between fifteen-year-old Louisa and the elderly woman she’s employed to look after.


Aspiring pilot Louisa is alone in the world. Her white English mother was killed in a London bomb blast, and her black Jamaican dad died on a ship that was torpedoed only three days after her mother died. Through her grief brave Louisa “burns to fight back” and takes a job looking after Jane, an elderly German woman who’s been imprisoned in an alien detainment camp. While travelling to stay with Jane’s niece in her Scottish pub, they form a beautiful bond, finding common ground in their love of music and the fact that they’re both outsiders in Britain - Jane because she’s German, and Louisa because she’s mixed race and subjected to racism.


In Scotland they meet fellow outsider, Ellen, a driver for the local RAF airfield who tries to hide her traveller heritage. Ellen’s active role makes Louisa more determined to do something herself, so she takes her chance when a German defector lands at the airfield and leaves a codebreaking Enigma machine. It’s not long before Louisa, Ellen and young flight lieutenant Jamie step-up their war efforts, as their story builds to an impeccably conducted, pulse-quickening crescendo.


Alongside being a gripping thriller, this is a truly moving, inspirational novel. Louisa’s passion for music and learning, her wit and ambition, are exhilaratingly infectious. I’d love to know what she does next.

Joanne Owen

The Enigma Game Synopsis

Windyedge Airfield, Scotland. World War II. Louisa Adair, newly orphaned and shunned for her mixed-race heritage, has come here to the edge of the world to look after an old lady with a dark past. Jamie Beaufort-Stuart is a flight lieutenant whose squadron is posted to the airfield over winter. Ellen McEwan is a young woman held hostage by the German pilot who lands at Windyedge one wild stormy night carrying a terrible secret. Three young people desperate to make a difference in a war that has decimated their families, friends and country. When the means to change the course of history falls into their hands, how will they use it? And when the enemy comes looking for them, who will have the courage to strike back? A thrilling story of wartime secrets, international intrigue and wild courage from the award-winning author of Code Name Verity, with three young heroes you'll never forget.

The Enigma Game Reader Reviews

In addition to our LoveReading expert opinion some of our Reader Review Panel were also lucky enough to read and review this title. You can click here to read the full reviews.

I was astounded by the beauty of this paper package of wartime excellence. If the action doesn't draw you in, the characters, written in-depth and breathtaking detail, certainly will. I implore you to read this novel - it will never leave you, but that is a good thing. Full review

Emily Lonsdale (Age 14)

Spies. Codes. Danger. This book has plot twists, dashing heroines, brave airmen and seemingly impossible codes left by the enemy - who aren’t quite what they seem. Kind but fierce elderly women who sing opera and speak German are assisted by young women who have faced all the prejudices in life and are still following their greatest ambitions. Full review

Issie Ford (Age 12)

The Enigma Game is a gripping World War II adventure where we follow three young characters as they stumble onto a discovery which will change history. Full of plot twists - an unputdownable book! Full review

Alex Nicholson (Age 14)

This book was exciting, sad and an adventure to read. Full review

Iulia Motoc (Age 12)

I would definitely recommend ‘The Enigma Game’ as it is such an in-depth, interesting and thrilling novel in which I enjoyed reading. Full review

Stephanie Chaplin (Kid Reviewer)

The Enigma Game Press Reviews

Praise for The Pearl Thief;

A hugely enjoyable novel with an intriguing, page-turning plot - Guardian

A total treat - Melinda Salisbury

A romantic and acutely observed historical mystery - Metro

The Enigma Game is a gorgeous, complex, layered story set chronologically between The Pearl Thief and Code Name Verity, but equally enjoyable as a standalone novel, with beautiful musings on discrimination, prejudice, war, family, and the secrets we hide - and reveal - throughout our lives - NetGalley

Code Name Verity has built a reputation for being an outstanding example of historical fiction - and The Enigma Game looks likely to follow suit. Superb! - NetGalley

Book Information

ISBN: 9781526601650
Publication date: 14th May 2020
Author: Elizabeth Wein
Publisher: Bloomsbury Childrens Books an imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
Format: Paperback
Pagination: 432 pages
Year Groups: Key Stage 3
Topics: General Fiction, Gritty Reads, Historical Fiction, Thrillers

About Elizabeth Wein

Elizabeth Wein was born in New York, and grew up in England, Jamaica and Pennsylvania. She is married with two children and now lives in Perth, Scotland. Elizabeth is a member of the Ninety-Nines, the International Organization of Women Pilots. She was awarded the Scottish Aero Club's Watson Cup for best student pilot in 2003 and it was her love of flying that partly inspired the idea for Code Name Verity. Photo Credit David Ho 2018

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