The Betrayals by Bridget Collins

The Betrayals Book Cover

The Betrayals
Bridget Collins
General Fiction (Adult)
HarperCollins UK
28 Oct 2021


At Montverre, an ancient and elite academy hidden high in the mountains, society’s best and brightest are trained for excellence in the grand jeu—the great game—an arcane and mysterious competition that combines music, art, math, poetry, and philosophy. Léo Martin once excelled at Montverre but lost his passion for scholarly pursuits after a violent tragedy. He turned to politics instead and became a rising star in the ruling party until a small act of conscience cost him his career. Now he has been exiled back to Montverre, his fate uncertain.

But this rarified world of learning Léo once loved is not the same place he remembers. Once the exclusive bastion of men, Montverre’s most prestigious post is now held by a woman: Claire Dryden, also known as the Magister Ludi, the head of the great game. At first, Léo feels an odd attraction to the magister—a mysterious, eerily familiar connection—though he’s sure they’ve never met before.

As the legendary Midsummer Game approaches—the climax of the academy’s year—long-buried secrets rise to the surface and centuries-old traditions are shockingly overturned.

“The Betrayals” by Bridget Collins is a mesmerizing tapestry of mystery, intrigue, and hidden truths. Let me share my personal and glowing impressions of this captivating novel:

A World of Secrets: At Montverre—an exclusive academy nestled in the mountains—the best and brightest are trained for excellence in the grand jeu, an arcane and mysterious contest. Here, the past whispers through ancient walls, and every step holds a secret. When Léo Martin returns in disgrace, he discovers that Montverre has changed. A woman, Claire Dryden, now serves as Magister Ludi—the highest office in the grand jeu. Their odd connection sparks curiosity, even though they’ve never met before.

Built on Lies: Both Léo and Claire carry burdens of deception. Their lives are intricately woven with half-truths and hidden motives. As the legendary Midsummer Game approaches—a climax that reverberates through the academy’s history—secrets rise, and centuries-old traditions are upended. Bridget Collins masterfully explores the cost of truth and the weight of redemption.

Imaginative and Exquisite: “The Betrayals” is a literary epic—a delicate dance between reality and illusion. Collins’s prose paints vivid landscapes, from the secluded academy to the heart of political intrigue. The grand jeu itself becomes a character—an enigma that draws us deeper into its labyrinth.

Themes of Identity and Redemption: Zillah, our mixed-race heroine, grapples with her place in a world of masks and hidden agendas. Her journey mirrors the struggle of conflicted protagonists, caught in a dystopian one-party state. As she unravels the web of competitive games, she seeks not just escape but self-discovery.

In summary, “The Betrayals” confirms Bridget Collins as one of the most inventive voices in speculative fiction. It’s a symphony of mystery, love, and the courage to unmask our own illusions.


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