Cover Image: Immortal Longings

Immortal Longings

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I’ve yet to meet a Chloe Gong book that didn’t sweep me away; Immortal Longings is no exception. Though I will admit that the sweeping did take a bit longer to occur than in any of her Secret Shanghai novels.

Take Antony and Cleopatra, add in the (creepy) ability to send one’s soul into another’s body, wrap it up with a competition that ends with a fight to the death in an arena strongly resembling the Roman Colosseum, and there you have it. There’s of course a taste of foolhardy romance, royal vs. rural politics, and a mysterious supernatural force threatening to ruin everything. While slightly reminiscent of a lot of different things, I have to say that Immortal Longings does come across as its own thing. (At least from the books I’ve personally consumed.)

This retelling seems much less copy-paste than Gong’s takes on Romeo & Juliet or As You Like It; though I’m admittedly less familiar with this particular source material, the main inspiration seems to come from character arcs as opposed to plot points. The world building is EXTENSIVE – sometimes coming off a bit dense as it is frontloaded – you just kinda gotta go along with it, but once you have, and all has been revealed, everything does click into place and I had a hard time putting it down. There is a sense that the dynamics of San-Er are about to be upended (and the world of the novel is much larger than we are led to believe), but I have to assume that will be further explored in the next two books of the trilogy.

I really enjoyed the revolving 3rd person POV; there’s the bloodthirsty (former) Princess Calla, desperate-to-win Anton, and the sly and surprising Prince August. How they interact and oppose and support is a constantly shifting battle, full of twists that I most certainly did not expect, but there was no one perspective that I dreaded stumbling upon, as is often the case with multiple POV novels. I’m very intrigued to see how they will continue to play out in book 2.

With a mix of urban fantasy feel and SciFi-ish paranormal elements, I think this would appeal to a wide variety of readers. Just be prepared for a slower start, character-focused action, plenty of subterfuge, and an ending that will shake absolutely everything up.

Content warning (taken from author’s website): on-page death, death of a child, blood, explicit violence, explicit sex, mass death, gore, description of corpses, description of bodily harm, weapon use, alcohol consumption, body-swapping, description of torture.

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I was so excited to get an arc of Immortal Longings. It was a good book but there were things I did not like. The narration and plot at times were confusing and hard to grasp. The pacing also was an issue with wanting to keep reading.

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Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for providing an advance copy in exchange for honest feedback. Looking forward to the sequel.

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Chloe gong creating a adult fantasy setting was exactly what we needed. After my major obsession of these violent delights and foul lady fortune, I expected nothing less from this incredible author. To create a world filled with magic, romance, and culture. Badass fmc and a story to always remeber. It was just perfect.
Thank you NetGalley!

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“Do not mistake my tolerance for weakness, August,” she says quietly. “Do not forget who you’re talking to. You’ve gotten used to ordering people around, I know. Day in and day out, they must heed what you say, because you are the crown prince, and they cannot offend such a man.” Her eyes flicker back to him. “But I am Calla Tuoleimi…I am a princess who sacrificed my own throne for this kingdom. You do not order me around.”

IMMORTAL LONGINGS is unlike anything I’ve ever read, and I absolutely loved it. It's tough to write a review without spoilers, but I'll say that the book took me by surprise more than once. I felt that there was a perfect balance of action and emotion, with sections creating tension and others allowing the reader to get to know the characters. Told from Calla, Anton, and August's POV, I didn't feel that the story ever lagged. Additionally, I haven't ever read the original Anthony and Cleopatra story, but I quickly Googled the plot summary and felt that it was more than sufficient for my understanding and enjoyment of the story.

The only thing that wasn't perfect for me was the way that consent was handled, especially when it came to intimacy. Gong briefly addresses it in a sentence or two, but I had so many questions about unwanted consequences. I truly hope a map of both San-Er and all of Talin is available with book two (a true shocker to everyone that knows me). A massive thank you to Gallery/Saga Press for the complimentary copy in exchange an honest review. I've already added this to my "2023 Favorites" shelf on Goodreads, and I have no doubt that it will be in my top 10 at the end of the year.

This was a #fantasyfrenemies selection, and I can't wait for our discussion!
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As a side note, I wanted to address the negative reviews, which I found extremely disheartening. I get that not all books are for everyone, and IMMORTAL LONGINGS will probably be a bit more divisive than others. That said, there are several lengthy reviews that seem to extend beyond a thoughtful, constructive review into a territory that could be deemed unkind. My hope is that those will not serve as a deterrent to those thinking about picking this one up, but rather, formulate their own opinion(s).

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I’ve read several YA books by Gong, so I was curious to see if I’d enjoy her adult debut just as much. Spoiler alert – I very much did.

This competition is very Hunger Gamesish, which I loved. What makes it even more challenging is that some competitors have the ability to jump into other bodies – so you may not even know that innocent-appearing citizen on the street is playing the game until they stab you. Calla must remain on alert nearly 24/7. Luckily, she receives help from her cousin, Prince August. You know, since they share the same goal of killing the king. Which Calla promises to do when she wins. The king is the opposite of a benevolent ruler. August wants to take the throne, and Calla has a personal reason for wanting him dead.

Enter Anton, a cunning and worthy opponent who may be the best jumper in the kingdom. When he and Calla meet, it’s clear they’re evenly matched. They decide to enter into an alliance until only the two of them remain for the final battle. What they don’t count on is their relationship turning from an alliance into a romance. But Anton is also desperate to win, which forces Calla into a corner. She must decide between Anton and her kingdom.

I suspected what might happen at the end, but still let out a gasp when I read it. The second book can’t get here fast enough! I’d recommend this to readers who enjoy deadly competitions, enemies to lovers (literally) romance, and political maneuvers.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

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I was a little worried going into this book that I wouldn't like it; the reason I'm such a big fan of Chloe's YA novels is more to do with the historical setting than the magic elements. But I didn't have to worry too much; Immortal Longings is a delicious start to what I'm sure will be a thrilling series. The magic system made me immensely uncomfortable, but I do think that might have been the intent, and I'm curious to see what will transpire in future installments.

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Well, that was fantastic. I’ll be honest, it starts out super strong and intriguing. In the middle, there was a bit of a lull and I was hoping the pace picked up. I should have known my girl wouldn’t do us like that, because the ending is explosive and leaves us wanting more.

Calla! Anton! August! I cared for them all and they’re all at odds with one another. I am so intensely curious to see what is going to happen in the next book because of how this ended.

Gong’s foray from YA to Adult is effortless. I feel like she’s always straddled the line with her YA books, so it was no feat for her to take the pining and sexual tension between her characters a bit further. I love that you can still see her Shakespearean influences mixed with the Chinese culture. The magic system is heavily influenced by Chinese beliefs and Qi, it was simply fascinating and brilliant.

Her writing never fails to keep me breathless. The chemistry between her characters always equals sherr perfection. The magic systems are unique and intelligent in the way they make absolute sense. The realistic Worldbuilding is rich yet not needlessly complex. Most importantly, the twists are delicious and promise more drama as the series continues.

Gong is absolutely an auto-buy author for me! Now I’ll be patiently (but eagerly) awaiting the next installment.

I ended up with three copies of this book (a BOTM, a signed copy, and one courtesy of the publisher) and I have no regrets.

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Thank you Netgalley for a digital copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. I liked this book well enough to where I maybe will read the next ones. It was a bit rough. Now this is Chloe Gong’s first adult book and she can definitely improve overtime so maybe the next books will be better. I didn’t connect very much with the characters. None of the plot twists really had be gasping at all. I kind of had a bland reaction to everything 😂 The romance wasn’t that great either. They kind of just got together because they could and it was convenient. There were a decent amount of POVs and some of them felt unnecessary but thankfully those weren’t used that often. Overall I just feel like this book was lacking something. It had bland world building, bland characters, and a mostly bland plot. I feel like the writing was decent and there was good dialogue but it just didn’t give me what I had hoped for. Now I’ve tried other Chloe Gong books and I haven’t been able to finish those so this is a step in the right direction that I was able to finish this 😂 3.5 out of 5 stars

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This book was everything I ever dreamed of…and yet nothing at all in some points. Chloe Gong has such a vivid way of describing things that it feels as if you were transported right into the action. This book was stunning and beautiful. The story did have some week points (the games, the government….) that really made the story flat in aspects. There were chapters I skimmed and sections I skipped. The characters were very straight forward, but I enjoyed them immensely.

Overall, I wouldn’t go out of my way to recommend this book, but I also wouldn’t discourage a person from picking it up.

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I’m walking away from this just feeling meh. It was fast paced, well-written enough, sure, but I just wasn’t into it. Characters are everything to me and these were very one dimensional. I didn’t end up caring about them, not even to dislike, and that normally means the book just isn’t going to work for me. I saw the ending coming, the romance was fine but then characters had no spark to me.

I do not think this is a bad book or poorly written, it just wasn’t for me.

Thank you to NetGalley and Gallery/Saga Press for the eARC in exchange for an honest review.

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Thank you NetGalley for giving me the opportunity to review Immortal Longing. This was an action packed read with a mist of fantasy. A great read for fans of Suzanne Collins, with its Hunger Games vibe. Uniquely enticing!

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I am convinced Chloe Gong knows exactly what she is doing when she writes these stories. I cannot wait to see where the sequel heads.

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I am intrigued, I am curious, I will need to read the next book. However, this book has major issues.

This city would have failed long before the events of this book, how can it even function if people are just constantly stealing each others bodies for extended periods of time when the only way to catch on to them is a change in eye color? There are millions upon millions of supposed people in this city, if you want to commit a crime there are going to be plenty of people with the same eye color as you to borrow for a few hours while you gave your fun. The other eye thing is also either a huge plot hole or a way to obvious hint to a plot point for a later book, but for the purpose of book one it looks like a very bad plot hole.

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From the moment I heard this was a Cleopatra & Antony retelling, I knew I’d be really fond of this book and it’s totally become my new favorite from Chloe Gong! Reading this book was basically me being utterly fascinated & intrigued the whole time! I think for me there was something just so magical about getting to read Chloe’s debut adult fantasy just because I’ve read her YA books and seeing the way the two are different was so cool but also there’s that sense of I know this just in a different way if that makes sense. I personally really enjoyed the dystopian element in this story. First of all, I thought it was executed in a really great way! It felt nostalgic to me because it took me back to my teenage times when that was all the buzz in books and I really loved it. The story itself was so well thought out I thought, everything just ties together so perfectly and truly Chloe Gong is a mastermind when it comes crafting beautiful words on the page. Oh and also I deeply appreciated the romance bits haha! I’m so happy I got to read it early and I cannot wait for more in this trilogy,

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When I first read the Blurb for Immortal Longings I was so excited to read it, it sounded like something that I could really sink my teeth into and really enjoy but the reality if it was very different.

The storyline should have been fantastic but it just fell flat , the writing for me didn't flow and was somewhat Chaotic. In all honesty this book I found hard to get through and very nearly became my first DNF I guess I was just bored, but I'm glad I did carry on because the ending was my favourite part, even if I did guess what was going to happen.

As with everything some will love it and others not so much, will I read the next? I'm not sure yet ,but the ending has left me intrigued about what will happen next.

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Decided to put this one now for now. I loved her YA books but this one has a lot of info dumps and the pacing is throwing me off.

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Set in the twin cities of San-Er, Immortal Longings is Chloe Gong’s debut adult novel.

The premise is very exciting. I love a good re-telling. The setting was great, very Sci-Fi, almost steampunk. The pacing was a little fast for me, I feel that there was a lot of info-dumping happening that was hard to make sense of at first. The first 20-30ish percent took a while for me to get through, but I flew through the rest of the book. The ending was well written. I will be continuing the series for sure. 4 stars.

Thank you to NetGalley and Saga Press for access to this ebook in exchange for an honest review.

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I wasn't ready to like this book--in fact, having tried to get through the YA duolog I expected to DNF it. I was not ready to get invested in a new series.

Fellow reader, I did not DNF. Instead, I tore my way through this fantastic fantasy inspired by the tv show Rome, and Shakespeare's Anthony and Cleopatra. If you know anything about Augustus' rise to power, you know he had some "friends" turned foes along the way. Anthony and Cleopatra were two of the biggest.

Is the overall plot a mashup of The Hunger Games and Suetonius' The Twelve Caesars? Yep. But it works. Oh, does it work! And the world Gong builds around this plot is very fleshed-out, creating a very atmospheric read.

If you like historical aus, especially Roman ones, you'll love this! I will definitely be reading the next book in this series.

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📖 ARC REVIEW 📖

Thank you @sagapressbooks for my early and finished copies of Immortal Longings by @thechloegong. I received an advance review copy for free, and I am leaving this review voluntarily. 🤍

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. Immortal Longings is Chloe Gong’s adult debut novel – an Antony and Cleopatra-inspired novel starring Princess Calla, a player in the games who five years ago killed her parents and left the palace, but she didn’t finish her job as she has failed to kill King Kasa then; and Anton Makusa, another player in the games and an exiled aristocrat whose childhood love has lain in a coma and is in deep debt trying to keep her alive. Along with Prince August, Calla and Anton form an alliance, though each of them has different goals in mind.

🛑Read on with caution; review may contain spoilers🛑

Though this novel is easy enough to follow and understand, the world-building seems a bit chaotic – bits and pieces of information are scattered (some repeatedly) throughout the novel; it seems like Gong built this fantasy world just as she was writing the story. The storyline feels like the Hunger Games, though the stakes for each character/player seemed underwhelming. Set in an impoverished city, the prize of riches for winning the game is underwhelming for me, but with Calla wanting a better environment for the people, she wishes to kill King Kasa, and have Prince August take his place on the throne. While her goal is very altruistic, I find August’s character suspicious and dark. For someone who’s described in the novel as smart and sharp, I think Calla has misjudged the prince’s intentions for the crown. Anton on the other hand had good intentions, to save his love and pay off his debt. With his alliance with Calla, I found it interesting as they begin to fall for each other – what happens to his goal then for Otta? Anton’s chemistry with Calla seemed forced, with Calla’s being utterly cautious and suspicious of her surroundings all the time, which included Anton, then suddenly she lets her guard down and they were both all over each other – I felt that the chemistry didn’t make sense, but I kind of expected they would end up together. Additionally, although established that bodies are only accessories, discardable, and can be used based on need, I found some morally disturbing aspects here, namely killing civilians not involved in the games and with the ability for a qi/person to jump from one body to another, and then have sexual intercourse with someone else to name a few.

On a positive note, the action in this novel was absolutely thrilling and incredible. I found myself enjoying the fights that Anton and Calla encounter in the city.

Overall, Immortal Longings is an interesting read and I applaud Gong’s adult debut novel. I hope we get to see a more in-depth exploration/world-building in the next book, particularly the concept of jumping from one body to another, which I think doesn’t seem to be established well enough in this first book of the series (?).

Rating this ⭐⭐⭐ /5. Released last July 18th, 2023. Available to purchase from book retailers.

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