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Friday, February 17, 2012

Cleopatra's Moon, by Vicky Alvear Shecter

Cover Art from Arthur A. Levine Books

Selene has grown up in a palace on the Nile with her parents, Cleopatra and Mark Antony -- the most brilliant, powerful rulers on earth. But the jealous Roman Emperor Octavianus wants Egypt for himself, and when war finally comes, Selene faces the loss of all she's ever loved. Forced to build a new life in Octavianus's household in Rome, she finds herself torn between two young men and two possible destinies -- until she reaches out to claim her own.

Cleopatra Selene is one of the most interesting understated heroines I've had the pleasure of meeting in a long time. In this telling of her life before and after Octavian took Egypt is just wonderful. Cleopatra Selene is strong-willed and driven, just as her mother was. Her love is clearly for Egypt, and nothing (and no one will deter her).

I was familiar with Cleopatra Selene, having read Michelle Moran's Cleopatra's Daughter last year. I didn't review it, because I, well, it didn't evoke anything strong in me one way or another. It's well-researched, and I think well-written, but the characters didn't matter to me when it was all over with.

Not so with Cleopatra's Moon. For me, a good historical fiction book has characters (both the historical figures AND the side characters) that are REAL. They are interesting, are deeply constructed, and stick with me when I put the book down--if can I be persuaded to. Cleopatra's Moon accomplishes this. I like the characters...definitely Selene, but Juba and Livia, too.

Overall, I'm excited about the amount of research that was clearly done in preparation for writing this book. Details, not just about Cleopatra Selene's Egyptian/Roman family, but also about the events going on in the world at the time. It isn't just Selene's personal story, it's how she fits into the greater world, as well. It's incredibly well done and superior to similar books I've read in both its presentation and approach to a historical story.

For what it's worth, I heartily approve of the printing as well. The actual "text on the page" printing. The page margins are slimmer than the standard book (which is something I notice about books from Arthur A. Levine), which makes for smoother visual tracking on the page. I can't recall ever reviewing margins before, but take it for what it's worth!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author. I was not required to write a positive review (She just happened to get one!). The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.” 

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