Cleopatra's Moon by Vicky Alvear Shecter
Release Date: August 1, 2011
Arthur A. Levine Books (Scholastic)
Selene has grown up in a palace on the Nile with her parents, Cleopatra & Mark Antony—the most brilliant, powerful rulers on earth. But the jealous Roman Emperor Octavianus wants Egypt for himself, & 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.
This stunning novel brings to life the personalities & passions of one of the greatest dramas in history, & offers a wonderful new heroine in Selene
I've read quite a few Cleopatra books- but none quite like this.
Cleopatra's Moon is about the daughter of Cleopatra VII, Cleopatra Selene. And rather than focusing on the events leading up to the death of Cleopatra VII, Vicky Alvear Shecter focuses largely on the aftermath of her death and the impact it has on her children, particularly her only daughter.
Historical fiction based on the story of Ancient Egypt and their famous Pharoah Queen are some of the best books out there; but this one is definitely unique compared to others. Shecter's writing is stunning, as she enticingly describes the story of Cleopatra Selene and draws you in to this fascinating world. But she also chooses to fill in the blanks of history, rather than rewrite it. I was pleasantly surprised by the ending, and I was so pleased to see that she included some historical facts at the end to compare to her novel. Historical fiction is a tricky genre to write, but Shecter succeeds in doing so and produces an enjoyable read at the end of it.
There were parts of the book that seemed to move along rather slowly to me, but I'm sure that this was written for a certain effect since Cleopatra Selene seemed to feel the same way (and from her perspective, it must have been agonizingly slow). My one complaint is how there is a large build up to her "purpose" or "fate" (whatever you want to call it) but at the end of the book, I found it somewhat disappointing to see what its cumulation ended up being (but then again, Shecter does not rewrite history). Still, I was satisfied by the ending and by the book as a whole.
One thing I was particularly pleased with is how dimensional Shecter designed the characters; there is obviously the bias of Selene, but not everyone is who they appear to be at first by the end of the book. The Egyptians are not the obvious good guys, nor are the Romans the obvious villains.
A review copy was provided to me in advance by Scholastic Canada in exchange for my honest and candid review.