The Last Checkmate: A Novel

We rated this book:


The Last Checkmate is work of historical fiction that twists events to put a young non-Jewish girl in the men’s camp at Auschwitz. She is then only saved by her ability to amuse a particularly psychopathic guard by playing chess. While the author, Gabriella Saab, explains the liberties she took in writing her novel and has done research to back up what may or may not be plausible, I found it hard to swallow, especially when the main character’s childhood friend and fellow Polish resistance fighter infiltrates the camp to save her, or when the sadistic guard is willing to meet the protagonist at Auschwitz to play a final game of chess.

I appreciate Saab’s creativity, but the chess references seemed incredibly forced and mainly consist of the main character saying “checkmate.” There are so many more authentic novels about chess or the Holocaust. I can take a fair bit of fiction in my historical fiction, but this felt like a bit of a ghoulish and exploitative take on such an important time in history. Readers should also be aware that in addition to numerous expletives, many scenes involve the sexual exploitation of the prisoners, which may not be appropriate for all teens.

Reviewed By:

Author Gabriella Saab
Star Count 2/5
Format Trade
Page Count 416 pages
Publisher William Morrow Paperbacks
Publish Date 19-Oct-2021
ISBN 9780063141933
Amazon Buy this Book
Issue February 2022
Category Historical Fiction