Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Book Review: Cleopatra's Moon by Vicky Alvear Shecter

When I grabbed this book from my library, I was desperate for something to read. I had a bunch of books on hold that I was waiting on and I needed something to tide me over. For me, not having a book to read is unacceptable. I need to have the option available whether I'm in the mood or not. I was itching for some good historical fiction and this one caught my eye. I don't remember studying too much on Cleopatra in school and she is such an interesting historical figure that I thought, what the heck. After reading the back jacket I saw that this book wasn't even about Cleopatra--it's about her daughter. Even better--a fresh perspective! Here's my summary:

Cleopatra Selene is the only daughter of Cleopatra and Marc Antony. She's hailed as a princess and is training to become the next priestess of the goddess of Isis. When her parent's biggest enemy, Octavianus, storms the island of Pharos where they live, the worst happens. Selene watches as her beloved father dies in front of her. She only gets moments with her mother before she too is taken away. Not long later Selene hears the wails of the other priestesses and knows her mother is dead. Rather than staying alive and fighting, Cleopatra gave her life over to Octavianus. Selene and her brothers are quickly taken away and marched through their home streets in chains. Then Octavianus puts them aboard his ship to Rome to live at his palace as prisoners. On the voyage over, Cleopatra loses one of her brothers. Once they get to Rome, she is quickly separated from the other. Selene does everything in her power to remain true to her heritage and does whatever she can to plot and plan with her mother's advisors to take back control of Egypt. She wants to be the great queen her mother was. But what price will she have to pay to accomplish that? Her best shot is to ally herself with Octavianus' nephew, Marcellus. But then something unexpected happens--Selene falls in love with another one of the prisoners, Juba. But Juba has his own plans for his future that don't involve following Selene back home. So should Selene follow her heart and forge a new path with Juba or should she try to uphold her mother's dying wishes--that she become the next great queen. Just when the fight for her life and her future can't get any more dangerous, Cleopatra is betrayed by someone she thought she could trust. And the future she ends up with isn't at all what she expected.

**I can probably gush over this book all day. I had no idea I would be so interested in such an ancient time period but I was. Selene's character is one of the toughest female protaganists I have ever read. What she endures--the loss, the struggle to keep her family together, the fight to make her mother proud--made me cry more than once. I thoroughly enjoyed the sweet and tender first love between Selene and Juba; it felt authentic for who they were and the time in which they lived. Although Selene doesn't get the happy ever after you really want for her, what she does get is something almost as good. My only complaint was that there were a lot of minor characters in the story but I saw the need for each of them to be there. And Shecter had a complete cast of characters list in the opening pages that was a nice flip reference. What was after the story was cool too. Shecter's author's note was filled with additional interesting information on those involved and she even provided resources you can go to for more learning. Cleopatra's Moon is a great read that I can't recommend enough!

Thanks for reading! Feel free to comment below and come back to see me soon!