Book Reviews

Review: Spy with the Red Balloon by Katherine Locke

So I’m not sure if you’re aware, but I’m a big Katherine Locke fan. Reading The Girl with the Red Balloon was one of the highlights of my blogging career. It was one of the first books I reviewed and I just fell in love with it. So receiving Spy just felt like this moment of destiny. It was like, “yes your hard work pays off” and it was everything and more.


Siblings Ilse and Wolf hide a deep secret in their blood: with it, they can work magic. And the government just found out.Blackmailed into service during World War II, Ilse lends her magic to America’s newest weapon, the atom bomb, while Wolf goes behind enemy lines to sabotage Germany’s nuclear program. It’s a dangerous mission, but if Hitler were to create the bomb first, the results would be catastrophic.

When Wolf’s plane is shot down, his entire mission is thrown into jeopardy. Wolf needs Ilse’s help to develop the magic that will keep him alive, but with a spy afoot in Ilse’s laboratory, the letters she sends to Wolf begin to look treasonous. Can Ilse prove her loyalty—and find a way to help her brother—before their time runs out?


book review spy with the red balloon katherine locke(Disclaimer: I received this free book from the publisher. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)

I knew I was going to love Spy with the Red Balloon from the first pages, even before I cracked the cover open. In a nutshell there is gorgeously written passages, thought provoking questions about ethics, and fabulously queer relationships and characters. What more could I actually want?

I mean Katherine Locke is basically an auto-buy author for me at this point. When the pre-order campaign was announced, I stopped where I was walking and ordered it on the spot. That’s the level of my fandom. But I digress.

In Spy I absolutely adored the sibling perspectives. Siblings are a huge weak spot for me. I love every type of them – ones that can’t stand each other, ones that are best friends, and everything in between. What strikes you immediately from the beginning is how unique each of their perspectives are. There’s this refreshing and instinctual gut feeling you have about these characters.

This deep love is only enhanced by the trials they go through. I want to protect these characters like my life depended on it – and, in that case, they might be better served by someone else. But you build on this tender and loving relationship with more drama, with added complex relationships, and new friends. Locke throws growing up challenges, societal/historical obstacles, and real danger in the mix. And what you get is a story with a bang.

There are genuine discussions about who our enemy is, what we do when our world wants to up the ante, how we can fight for our country, and how we can resist.


My book is littered with quotes and of various colors because I was thinking – well this is plain gorgeous, and this is thought provoking, and this elicits all the feels.

If you are in the mood for emotional and beautiful writing, this is your book. If you want a look at the power, and danger, of science, this is your book. If you want just plain boys falling in love with boys and girls kissing, then this is your book. It certainly is mine.

Find Spy with the Red Balloon on Goodreads, Amazon, BookDepository, and Indiebound. Please consider buying the ebook so that Katherine receives the most for Katherine’s work.


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4 thoughts on “Review: Spy with the Red Balloon by Katherine Locke

  1. I think I remember how much you love Katherine Locke, and I’m so glad that this book didn’t disappoint. I read it some weeks ago and I agree with you. I loved how intricate and beautiful the story is, and the sibling relationship is wonderful! It’s gorgeously written!

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