The reader does not merely read the book – they live in it. It is absolutely amazing the way Moran transports her readers thousands of years back into Ancient Rome. She goes over-the-top with imagery (in a good way). Moran appeals to all five senses, using heavy doses of details and a variety of figurative language. She illustrates a vibrant shade of purple; brings alive the clanging of bells, jingling of coins, and loud chatter at the marketplace; describes the wonderful taste of ofella that melts in a person’s mouth; describes the fragrance of the clear, salty ocean breeze or stench of urine and manure in the slums; and depicts the soft, light texture of the fabric of a tunic. The details regarding architecture are quite overwhelming and illustrated to the last carving or arch – the author does not leave anything out. Although for some readers it may seem too much, Moran describes the architecture down to the last detail to bridge a connection between the readers and Selene. Selene loves to sketch all kinds of buildings, such as temples, palaces, pyramids, mausoleums, and having the book written with a special eye for the architecture of things brings the readers closer to the protagonist. Moran also does an excellent job in moving the story along and having mini plot “trap doors” and “dead ends” such as Alexander’s homosexuality, to keep the readers on their toes. A problem I did have with the book, especially in the beginning, was how the author just tosses the readers into the maelstrom of Egypt’s capture. Although that tactic works to grab the audience’s attention, it can also confuse and overwhelm the audience. There were too many names and relations mentioned, and it was very confusing to keep up. On a personal note, this novel has given me an opportunity to experience what a genuine cannot-put-it-down, thinking-about-it-in-my-sleep, abandon-all-work book is like. When I was not reading Selene’s struggles to understand the Roman customs or her headstrong, determined attitude to be Vitruvius’s apprentice, I was replaying the scene over and over in my mind, predicting what will come next. This book is for an audience of people who like to be told “everything”(as in details), who like a little scandal, who enjoy some drama, and who admire strong, determined protagonists.
Reviewed by Lilit, Grade 12
Glendale Central Library