Monday, October 31, 2011

Cleopatra's Moon


Cleopatra's Moon is a YA historical fiction by Vicky Alvear Shecter.

Cleopatra Selene is a princess. She is the only daughter of the revered, intelligent Cleopatra and the Roman General Marcus Antonius. Her people love her and her twin brother Alexandros, as well as their adorable little brother Ptolly. They are the picture of a happy, beautiful family for a people to look up to.

And Cleopatra Selene has every intention of being just as powerful and brilliant a queen as her mother.

But before that day even comes close the Roman ruler, Octavianus, sets out to destroy Cleopatra. At least that is how he is spinning it. Calling her a witch, a whore, and worse. He's determined to turn the people against her as he slowly gains approval for dismantling all that Cleopatra Selene's ever known and loved.

Events turn horrifying, and after experiencing immense loss of life Cleopatra Selene and her brothers are taken to Octavianus's palace in Rome - a place of enemies.

Yet as Cleopatra Selene grows older she has but one goal in sight: regain Egypt's rule and become a queen that would have made her mother proud.

Cleopatra's Moon stunned me. I've always been interested in Cleopatra - as many people have. But I've never heard much about her daughter, or anyone else she left behind after dying. Vicky Alvear Shecter fixes that here. Sure, this is historical fiction - so some characters only exist in our author's mind, and certain events are having to be imagined from a personal perspective we have no real knowledge of - but the basis of the story is truth, and Vicky Alvear Shecter clearly knows her facts!

Thing is though, Cleopatra's Moon is no historical text. This is not a lesson in ancient history. This is a raw, riveting, fascinating, alive telling of Cleopatra Selene and the turbulent time she grew up in. The crackling detail and the characters are riveting and three-dimensional. I was absolutely hooked from start to finish, and every painful moment in the middle.

That's another point to make on Cleopatra's Moon - it's often horrifying. Shecter doesn't shy away from the anguishing, stark representation of the bloody deaths of family members. The brutal overtaking of the kingdom is enough to make you sick to your stomach, but also sit back in awe at Shecter's undeniable skill at effecting our emotions. Because with such realism and honesty in the face of terrors, what can we do but identify with Cleopatra Selene? Especially as she is heartbreakingly young as she witnesses all of this.

Cleopatra's Moon is a disturbing, suspenseful, powerful journey. Reading it puts you right there in the midst of the unimaginable. The mourning, the brutality, the betrayal, the hurt and the fear are all both difficult to read - yet gripping.

I applaud Vicky Alvear Shecter for reminding me of what I love about well-done, respectful historical fiction! This novel is alluring, captivating, romantic, shocking and overwhelming. In the end, I had tears in my eyes! What a beautiful, wonderful book!!!

BONUS REVIEW:
I want to acknowledge that today is Halloween by mentioning another drawing book! Many of us bibliophiles have a creative streak, or know someone who does, and can find good use in do-it-yourself fun. And this one is in keeping with today's holiday. What's it called? Why, it is How to Draw Chiller Monsters, Werewolves, Vampires, and Zombies!

J. David Spurlock is the author and it features the artwork of numerous artists, as well as a foreword by Rob Zombie. This instructional book focuses on many different styles and breaks the steps down into specifics: structure, lighting, perspective, etc. They are pretty creepy, detailed illustrations done by very talented people.

So, if you are interested in nurturing your own talent and learning new tricks, pick up a copy of How to Draw Chiller Monsters, Werewolves, Vampires, and Zombies!

See you guys on Wednesday and have a Happy Halloween!!!

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