Book Talk – CLEOPATRA’S MOON by Vicky Alvear Shecter

Most of us know at least something about Cleopatra VII – that would be she of the viper and Marc Antony. It’s likely that some of what you know is false; the romanticized versions of her life are more fiction than fact. What a lot of people don’t know is that Cleopatra had a daughter – also Cleopatra (it was a Ptolemy thing) – who had a heck of an interesting life herself, but has always existed in the long shadow of her mother.

Vicky Alvear Shecter sets out to right this wrong in her YA novel CLEOPATRA’S MOON. It’s a well plotted, nicely delivered historical jaunt with plenty of life lessons for female teens and a love story on top for the win. Shecter pulls world-building double duty in masterfully re-creating both Ancient Egypt and Rome as our main character, Cleopatra Selene, is forcefully removed from her homeland after her mother’s death. Cleopatra and her surviving brothers, sons of Marc Antony, are brought to Egypt to live with (of all people) Marc Antony’s Roman wife, Octavia, whom he had abandoned in favor of Cleopatra VII.

Yes, sometimes truth is stranger than fiction.

Used as political pawns in Ceasar Octavian’s skillfully manipulated empire, Cleopatra’s children must learn to survive in a culture foreign to them. Cleopatra Selene remains fiercely loyal to her patron goddess, Isis, performing her rituals even under threat of death. Meanwhile, the siren song of Rome – wine and women – is calling her brothers away from their culture of birth.

Intelligent and attractive, Cleopatra Selene has to decide whether she will allow her body to be used to further the Ptolemy line in an advantageous marriage of Ceasar’s making, or if she will give in to the equally powerful pull of her own heart – which is headed in another direction.

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