Title: Cleopatra’s Daughter
Author: Michelle Moran
Release Date: September 15, 2009
Genre: Historical Fiction
Rating: 5 out of 5
Cleopatra’s Daughter is the story of Kleopatra Selene, the daughter of the famed Queen of Egypt and her husband, Marc Anthony. After her mother’s death, Selene and her twin brother Alexander are taken to Rome by Octavian. There, they will take part in Octavian’s Triumph, in which they will be paraded through the streets of Rome as prisoners. But what will happen to Selene and Alexander after it’s over? After all, royal prisoners usually aren’t allowed to live once a Triumph is completed.
Michelle Moran has proven herself a master of historical fiction with Nefertiti and The Heretic Queen. Now, in Cleopatra’s Daughter, she shows us that Egyptian history isn’t the only period of time she can write about effectively. Cleopatra’s Daughter takes us to Ancient Rome – to the Circus Maximus, the Pantheon, and the steps of the Roman Senate.
Kleopatra Selene is a wonderfully written character. She’s so young when the novel begins, yet throughout it she seems older than her years. This is not to say that she’s poorly written, but that, as Moran points out in her author’s note, she is one of the best educated children of her time. This makes her incredibly easy to like and identify with, regardless of what age the reader is. However, her intelligence and precociousness doesn’t make her less vulnerable or less human. She is worried for her brother and has been torn from all she knows at the beginning of the book. She is concerned for her future and doesn’t know who she can trust. She definitely makes some poor choices through the novel, but it’s never annoying. It’s part of growing up and understanding her situation.
Because of Kleopatra Selene’s age, this novel will appeal to both fans of YA and adult fiction. With the ubiquitousness and popularity of YA novels these days, Moran did an ingenious thing in making her main character so accessible to different ages. This is a book that anyone of almost any age can enjoy.
As Moran has demonstrated previously in her novels, she is an avid researcher who is meticulous with her historical details. She really creates an amazing atmosphere for the reader. I could smell the horrible stenches of Ancient Rome, feel the silks Selene was wearing on my skin, and hear the anguish in the air of slaves being mistreated. I love how vivid the entire novel was in my mind because of Moran’s attention to those little details that are so easy to overlook. And as always, there is an author’s note in the back of Cleopatra’s Daughter if you want to separate what was real from what Moran chose to embellish.
I also enjoyed the subplot in Cleopatra’s Daughter involving slavery. Michelle Moran takes on a lot of ethical issues in this novel, and she does it incredibly well. She is never preachy, and never hits the reader over her head with her interpretation of these issues. Instead, she uses Selene as her voice, discussing these problems through her main character’s eyes.
I absolutely adored Cleopatra’s Daughter and simply cannot wait for Michelle Moran’s next historical fiction novel (I would love a sequel to this one, if possible!). She has become one of my favorite authors and I cannot praise her novels highly enough!