(Cover picture courtesy of Goodreads.)
Princess Arsinoe came of age in the glittering court of Ptolemaic Egypt. Abused by her ruthless sister, a pawn in the dynastic ambitions of her father, and dismissed by the king who claimed her for a bride, young Arsinoe finds herself falling in love with a young man forbidden to her. She dreams of a destiny as Egypt’s queen, but first she must survive the nest of vipers otherwise known as her family.
There are so many reasons to love The Princess of Egypt Must Die, but one of the main ones is because of Arsinoe herself. She goes from poor naive princess of Egypt to forgotten bride of an ancient man to the mature, ruthless woman she would be known as later in life. All of this happens in quite a short time span, but at least her story arc is believable.
Arsinoe starts out as the political pawn for her father’s ambitions. She is married off to Lysimachus, the King of Thrace who was one of Alexander the Great’s bodyguards. It takes a little more time than I would like to know this because it actually establishes the timeline here. Throughout the Ptolemaic dynasty of Egypt, there were many Arsinoes so having this information introduced a little sooner would have been nice, but it’s not a major issue by any means. Once you realize the world that Arsinoe is living in is harsh and cruel and only going to get worse, it makes you want to read on. Of course her much older husband virtually ignores her and Arsinoe can’t help but fall in love with Cassander, who is as tragic a love interest as they get. His decision at the end of the short story is absolutely heartbreaking, as is Arsinoe’s.
Despite the short length of this novel I really did grow attached to the characters. Both Arsinoe and Cassander felt very real to me and I could believe in their ready attraction. Of course the plot being relatively fast-paced helps the story move along but there’s still plenty of attention devoted to character development. This is my first sample of Stephanie Dray’s writing and I have to say I was pretty impressed with her style. She knows how to describe just enough of her surroundings to be informative, but also knows not to drag on and on with such descriptions. Her writing is addictive and I guarantee I’ll be reading more of her in the future.
I give this short story 4/5 stars.