Book Reviews

Review: Immortal Longings by Chloe Gong

Excuse me, but if you tell me body jumping, a deadly competition, and “Anthony and Cleopatra” I am going to be intrigued. Chloe Gong’s adult fiction debut pulls out all the stops. Keep reading this book review for my full thoughts.


Every year, thousands in the kingdom of Talin will flock to its capital twin cities, San-Er, where the palace hosts a set of games. For those confident enough in their ability to jump between bodies, competitors across San-Er fight to the death to win unimaginable riches.

Princess Calla Tuoleimi lurks in hiding. Five years ago, a massacre killed her parents and left the palace of Er empty…and she was the one who did it. Before King Kasa’s forces in San can catch her, she plans to finish the job and bring down the monarchy. Her reclusive uncle always greets the victor of the games, so if she wins, she gets her opportunity at last to kill him.

Enter Anton Makusa, an exiled aristocrat. His childhood love has lain in a coma since they were both ousted from the palace, and he’s deep in debt trying to keep her alive. Thankfully, he’s one of the best jumpers in the kingdom, flitting from body to body at will. His last chance at saving her is entering the games and winning.

Calla finds both an unexpected alliance with Anton and help from King Kasa’s adopted son, August, who wants to mend Talin’s ills. But the three of them have very different goals, even as Calla and Anton’s partnership spirals into something all-consuming. Before the games close, Calla must decide what she’s playing for—her lover or her kingdom.


(Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)

From the beginning, I was over the moon excited for Immortal Longings. Having been a fan of Chloe Gong’s Secret Shanghai Universe, this speculative fiction debut has been making waves. On a world building premise alone, I love this idea of body jumping and being unable to trust your surroundings, or anyone really. There’s this distinct sense of danger and atmosphere from the very first pages. And I think something Gong does an excellent job at is laying this foundation. Making sure that any twists, turns, revelations or even additions are building off of – or opposing and changing – this framework.

There are hundreds of small references I loved – like the cat appearances or a side character whose death made me tear up – but Immortal Longings is a thrilling first book in a series. It’s clear from the beginning there’s a sense of scope, of the opening act of this world and these characters. This world and setting have a Hunger Games feeling to this deadly competition and the gross inequalities of the world, the poverty and the desperation in the games. It creates an atmosphere of people you would never expect in the games with their own agendas and lives to risk.

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Calla and Anton have a delightful cat and mouse banter with plenty of sharp blades. If you enjoyed the banter I have come to associate with Chloe Gong – Juliette and Rosalind – then you will enjoy Immortal Longings. I love a woman with a dagger. Within Immortal Longings, there’s a sense of scale, not only in the fact that Calla and Anton are risking their lives, but also in the idea of love and trust. To wonder if there can be a life for either of them that includes these concepts which seem so straightforward on the surface.

I am already awaiting the sequel to Immortal Longings based on the ending alone. But even more than that, I am looking forward to exploring some of the world that we are only just seeing. Find Immortal Longings on Goodreads, Storygraph, Amazon,, & Blackwells.


What is your favorite adult fiction debut from a YA author?

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