Cleopatra’s Moon by Vicky Alvear Shecter

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.

I read Cleopatra’s Moon by Vicky Alvear Shecter because I heard rave reviews about it. It isn’t normally my thing. Don’t get me wrong, I love historical fiction but sometimes it takes too much work to follow, well, HISTORY!  For example, I’m the girl that went to see 300 in theaters (A-MA-ZING, btw) and thought that all 300 men made it out alive and everyone lived happily ever after. (Spoiler: They don’t.) My cinematic experience was probably better than most because I believed that they would live and rooted for them the whole time. It’s the same with Cleopatra’s Moon. I wasn’t familiar with the history behind Cleopatra Selene so I was on edge because I didn’t know what happened to her in real life, but it made it that much more exciting to read as the story unraveled and it was that much more rewarding in the end.

Shecter did such a great job creating Cleopatra Selene’s world. The book was filled with bright, colorful imagery of Ancient Egypt and Rome. Shecter has a way of being historically correct without being boring. I loved how Cleopatra Selene was strong, driven and fought to recover her crown, despite her own desires. I could connect with her because she never gave up even when things didn’t turn out the way she wanted them to and she still kept going. Her loyalty to her mother and her goddess were such admirable qualities.

I really enjoyed reading Selene’s story knowing it is based on historical fact. The story begins when she was seven years old all the way up until she was 16. Shecter did an amazing job of keeping Cleopatra Selene’s subconscious and way of thinking appropriate for her age.This story was so well written and driven by the character relationships. Throughout her captivity, Cleopatra Selene had some sort of tension, whether good or bad, with every character. At any given time, she doesn’t know who’s her enemy, friend or something more. This allowed anticipation and surprise with every interaction and event.  Cleopatra Selene uses the tactics she knows from her mother, the legendary Cleopatra, to create alliances with anyone she can. This ultimately leads to a decision between Juba and Marcellus. Will she follow her heart or fulfill her duty to somehow escape and return to Egypt?

It was so great to see such a strong heroine define her own destiny. Selene’s story will be something I remember for a long time. If anything, this novel should be a testament that you should never give up when times are hard. There is always a light at the end of the tunnel.

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