I was in the mood for some Egyptian historical fiction so I chose to read Cleopatra’s Moon by Vicky Alvear Shecter. This is a take on the life of Cleopatra Selene, the daughter of the infamous Queen Cleopatra. I’ve read one other historical fiction book about her and that was Cleopatra’s Daughter by Michelle Moran. Unfortunately, I didn’t love that book and I don’t love this one either. This review will have spoilers but they’re known historical facts. Let’s get into the synopsis and then my thoughts!
Selene grew up in a palace on the Nile under parents Cleopatra and Mark Antony – the most brilliant, powerful rulers on earth. But when a cruel Roman Emperor takes the country and whisks the princess to Rome against her will. She finds herself torn between two young men and two possible destinies – until she reaches out to claim her own.
I have basically the same complaints with this book that I did with Cleopatra’s Daughter by Michelle Moran. It just wasn’t… enough. Sure, on the surface level, it’s an entertaining and quick read. However, it unfortunately fell flat for me, especially the characters.
Cleopatra Selene was the most developed, which makes sense since the story is told from her point of view. The beginning of the book was primarily about her childhood and I enjoyed it the most. Her time growing up with her mother, father and brothers was fully fleshed out and detailed. I wouldn’t say that this version of Cleopatra and her husband, Marc Antony, was really unique but I thought it was well done. I didn’t have a true issue with the characters until Octavianus (Caesar) was introduced.
Octavianus was the most stereotypical, mustache twirling villain you can imagine. This was my main complaint with Cleopatra’s Daughter and unfortunately, his portrayal in Cleopatra’s Moon is even worse. He has no depth. Is it possible he was truly evil to the core in real life? Most definitely but that doesn’t make for an interesting character. All of the other characters in this book were just there. I didn’t really feel one way or the other about them.
Both of Cleopatra Selene’s brothers died and I wasn’t attached enough to either of them to truly be upset. The same goes for the attempted love triangle between Cleopatra Selene, Marcellus and Juba. Of course, I knew who she would end up with because I know the historical facts BUT it still could have been done in a way where I was entertained by the drama and that didn’t happen. There was a lack of chemistry between all of the characters and that’s one of my main bookish pet peeves.
Don’t get me wrong, this book isn’t horrible. Shecter did an incredible job researching the Egyptian religion and life in general in that time period. Those aspects really added to the feel of the book and if the characters would have been as strong, I would have no complaints. I did have fun reading this book but it’s not one I would pick up again.
My search continues for a great book about Cleopatra Selene. Let me know if you’ve read any! Thank you for reading and have a great day!