Book Review

The Betrayals by Bridget Collins – Book Review

“Tonight the moonlight makes the floor of the Great Hall into a game board.”

First line in The Betrayals by Bridget Collins

Author: Bridget Collins

Published: November 12th, 2020

Genre: Literary Something (?)

My rating:

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Buzzwords: Elite school, alternate reality, dark academia

Synopsis:

If everything in your life was based on a lie
Would you risk it all to tell the truth?


At Montverre, an exclusive academy tucked away in the mountains, the best and brightest are trained for excellence in the grand jeu: an arcane and mysterious contest. Léo Martin was once a student there, but lost his passion for the grand jeu following a violent tragedy. Now he returns in disgrace, exiled to his old place of learning with his political career in tatters.

Montverre has changed since he studied there, even allowing a woman, Claire Dryden, to serve in the grand jeu’s highest office of Magister Ludi. When Léo first sees Claire he senses an odd connection with her, though he’s sure they have never met before.

Both Léo and Claire have built their lives on lies. And as the legendary Midsummer Game, the climax of the year, draws closer, secrets are whispering in the walls…

Goodreads

Review

If you go to the Goodreads page for The Betrayals, you’ll find that it has been shelved under practically every genre possible. They are all wrong and they are all correct as this book has taken small pieces from a lot of genres and made its own little hybrid. We’re mostly leaning towards something that could be described as Literary Fiction, though with a teeny tiny bit of fantasy.
The genre isn’t the only mystery in this book, and it’s generally hard to talk about without spoiling something. A part of the reading experience is being confused at the beginning of this story because Collins is easing you in very slowly all while giving you small clues to ponder. Despite all this, I’m going to try and give you a clearer idea of what this book actually is by being very vague.

The Setting

We’re dealing with a bit of a dark academia setting as the entire story takes place at an elite all-boys school called Montverre, which is hidden away in the mountains. Where, and even when, this school is exactly is a mystery to the reader. Collins throws some hints at you here and there (some are helpful, others only add to the confusion), and I personally found myself googling random information during my read-through. The setting itself isn’t given much attention beyond that, so if your favorite part of any book is the world-building, this is not for you.

The Characters

The story is told through four POVs with two of those being the same person, although a past and a present version. That part also adds to the confusion.
What every character in this book has in common is that none of them are nice. It’s one big bunch of unlikeable characters with some just being slightly less unlikable than others so you have someone to root for. The exploration of these characters and why they are like that is one of the major themes of the book, and I especially enjoyed how that past POV was used to do that. And it is an incredibly character-focused book. It doesn’t have much in terms of plot as a lot of the story is about unveiling what happened in the past and how that has affected the characters in the present.

The Themes

There’s a lot of social commentary in this book’s themes. I can’t say too much about that they are, but I do want to highlight the attention given to women’s role in this alternate-but-close-to-our-own reality. It is subtly portrayed through different female characters, and by the end, it was my favorite part of the book.
That’s about all I can say about themes because it is amazing to figure them out as you read.

Final ThoughtsWho Do I Recommend It To?

I’m not sure that helped anyone figure out if this is a book for them. It’s really a book where knowing as little as possible going in is the way to go. I recommend it to readers who are all about characters and don’t mind that they’re a little rough around the edges. I’m also guessing it will work for readers who enjoy magical realism or at least don’t mind it in their books. Finally, I can see very visual readers have problems with this as there aren’t a whole lot of descriptions. A large part of the book consists of diary entries and those don’t naturally tell you what a room looks like, you know.

And to make it perfectly clear: I freaking loved this book!

7 thoughts on “The Betrayals by Bridget Collins – Book Review

    1. Haha well, actually certain parts of the book have a lot of descriptions. Too much in my opinion so they were my least favorite parts, so now I’m quite curious to know what you think of them. So I’m happy you want to try it, although it’s a very odd book so I’m not going to be surprised if you don’t like it 😄

      Liked by 1 person

  1. I’m stuck on the ‘all of the character’s are unlikable’ part. That’s done on purpose?
    Fantastic review, especially since you did it without spoilers, that takes effort.
    Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, the characters are unlikable on purpose. I think the author is trying to show the not-so-pretty side of humanity and maybe even show how that still has value. It’s not usually my favorite thing to read about, but I actually really liked it in this one.
      And thank you for those kind words! 😊

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It’s different when you know the author intended it that way.. that changes things, and probably makes it a pretty interesting read.
        Thank you for taking the time to let me know! And you’re very welcome!🌷

        Liked by 1 person

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