(Cover picture courtesy of The Book Girl Recommends.)
Princess of Egypt
Cleopatra Selene is the only daughter of the brilliant Queen Cleopatra of Egypt and General Marcus Antonius of Rome. She’s grown up with jewels on her arms and servants at her feet, and she longs to follow her mother in becoming a great and powerful queen.
Prisoner of Rome
Then the Roman ruler, Octavianus, launches a war that destroys all Selene has ever known. Taken to live in his palace in Rome, she vows to defeat him and reclaim her kingdom at all costs. Yet Selene soon finds herself torn between two young men and two paths to power. Will love distract her from her goal—or help her achieve her true destiny?
Epic in scope and ravishing in detail, this novel reveals the remarkable true story of a girl long hidden in history: the extraordinary Cleopatra Selene.
I know you won’t believe it, but I found something in this book that is generally an oxymoron: a believable love triangle. Yes, I found the rarest kind of YA book out there! It’s believable and it resolves itself in the end where the main character makes a powerful decision rather than angsting over who she should choose.
After reading Michelle Moran’s Cleopatra’s Daughter, I thought that Cleopatra’s Moon wouldn’t be much different. But I am so glad I decided to buy Vicky Alvear Shecter’s book! It had a completely different perspective from Moran’s and the sort of antagonist of the novel came completely out of nowhere. Hint: it’s definitely not who you think it is but it makes sense when you look back in the story. Cleopatra Selene comes off as a strong character who comes by her feminism honestly in a world dominated by men, rather than being your stereotypical girl with 21st century perspectives in historical fiction. You can really feel her anguish at her mother’s and father’s deaths as well as the growing distance between herself and her twin, Alexander Helios.
Not only that, the men in her life are quite believable as well. Juba comes off as aloof and thoroughly Romanized in the beginning, but we start to see his strength of character later on. Of course Marcellus is incredibly charming but intelligent as well and a potential path to power for Selene. I like how Selene doesn’t just stand by as boys drool over her; she actively pursues them once she realizes their feelings and tries to reconcile her own. She also has incredible determination when it comes to reclaiming her birthright and that makes her both believable as a daughter of Cleopatra and a character everyone will cheer for.
As for the historical accuracy, I can’t nitpick. Some of the mystery surrounding events at the time allows for a little creative license and Vicky Alvear Shecter doesn’t take it over the top. She fills in gaps with plausible explanations and where there are historical records, sticks to them very well. Her portrayals of historical figures are realistic and you kind of get the feeling that hey, this is what they could have really been like. That, my friends, is great writing combined with great research. What more can you ask for in historical fiction, really?
I give this book 5/5 stars.