…by Michelle Moran.
Narrated by Selene, daughter of Marc Anthony and Queen Cleopatra, the story beings in Alexandria where Marc Anthony and Cleopatra take their lives to avoid captivity. They leave their three children – Selene, her twin brother Alexander and her younger brother Ptolemy – orphaned, in the hands of their enemy Octavian, who takes them with him to Rome. With no clear idea about Octavian’s intentions, the children live in uncertainty of what future holds even as they go on to manage settling down in the new place under Octavian’s sister’s care.
I am not going to get into the story for I fear I won’t do justice to trying to summarize it here or I might give away too much; but all I have to say is that it’s a beautiful tale that has elements of sibling love, romance, rebellion, politics, adventure, fear, mystery, fun, joy and grief.
Each and every character is painted so charmingly throughout the novel. Both flaws and virtues of each character are put forth at some point or the other. There are some characters I loved, some I liked, some I didn’t care for, but none of them seemed exaggerated; they were all believable. While I fell in love with Selene’s rebellious nature, I enjoyed her brother Alexander’s laid back quality just as much. At one hand were Octavian and his wife, who were harsh and cruel in their own ways, and at the other hand was his sister, a gentle soul who goes around helping people in need. And then there’s the charming Marcellus (Octavian’s nephew) and his annoying, yet sometimes sweet future bride-to-be, Julia. One has to read the book to fall in love with each and every one of them for what they are.
Being a fan of historical fiction, I enjoyed this book for all it had to offer about Rome. It’s possible for a novel set in history to go on with information about period and setting, losing focus on the actual storyline, but the author here overcomes that hurdle skillfully. She does a wonderful job of intertwining a fictional tale while shedding light on the facts of the kingdom and the characters’ lives without boring the readers.
While this book dealt with the childhood years of Cleopatra’s daughter, I hope someday there’s a sequel to it where the author tells us the story of what happens to Selene after.
Overall, a delightful read; I highly recommend it.
My rating: 5*.
*for the rating scale, click here.