About the Book

Title: Cleopatra’s Moon
Published: 2011
Swoonworthy Scale: 5

Cover Story: No Shame
BFF Charm: Yes
Talky Talk: Evocative
Bonus Factors: Ptolemaic Egypt, Historical Fiction, Feminism
Relationship Status: Lady In Waiting

Cover Story: No Shame

Yeah, it has a half-face, but it’s not the world’s most embarrassing cover. It could totally pass for grownup literature, with the somber cover and absence of pink.

The Deal:

Cleopatra Selene, the daughter of THAT Cleopatra and THAT Mark Antony, is perfectly happy growing up in Alexandria with her half-brother Caesarion, her twin Alexander Helios and her little brother Ptolemy. Her family rules Egypt, her parents are happy, and she’s being raised to inherit a dynasty — but it all comes crashing down. When Mark Antony divorces his Roman wife Octavia, her brother Octavianus (we know him as Augustus Caesar) declares war on Egypt. He takes the royal children captive and brings them to Rome, where they’re to be raised in his household — not the safest place to be when revenge, jealousy, and rage are unleashed on the ancient world.

BFF Charm: Yes

Yay BFF Charm

Cleopatra Selene has some major shizz go down before she’s even started her period, so the girl is obviously tough. She has one goal — get her country back — and I’d be more than willing to help her out. (Cleopatra Selene’s mother was Cleopatra, and since the Romans called her Selene as a way of dissing her mom, I can’t bring myself to do anything but use her full name. She is my new BFF, after all.) She’s the type to sacrifice her feelings for her goals, but not the type to sacrifice her friends in order to get ahead, and she needs someone to remind her to take a little time for herself.

Swoonworthy Scale: 5

Although half the book takes place when Cleopatra Selene’s 12, there’re no shortage of sexy times once she’s old enough. She has not one but two gorgeous specimens fighting to get into her toga — the golden god Marcellus, Octavianus’s nephew; and brainy AND brawny Juba, taken captive when Julius Caesar defeated his father and raised in Caesar’s and Octavianus’s households. But Cleopatra Selene’s ambition, while admirable, puts out any panty fires with buckets of ice water. That said, it’s impressive the book kindles a 5-point fire despite the cold showers.

Talky Talk: Evocative

The story is gilded with mysticism, sensuality, and emotions, but like I imagine ancient Alexandria, it’s not too much. The level of detail is enough to conjure opulence and wealth without plunging into an over-flowery snoozefest.

As the priests and priestesses chanted the final prayers, I wanted to jump and cheer and laugh. It was my family’s proudest moment! I drank it all in—the masses cheering; the white-robed Priests of Serapis chanting over bowls of smoky incense; the long-haired Priestesses of Isis extending their thin arms to the sky; the sweet fragrance of flowers as countless petals swirled around us, floating through the air like tiny perfumed birds. It was so beautiful, almost magical. The Triumph of the Ptolemies! The greatest moment of our lives.

But the gods would not stand for us to have such happiness for long. And so began the slow, excruciating process of our undoing.

See? You’re still awake, aren’t you? Alvear Shecter also does a magnificent job of keeping the complex cast from getting tangled and confused — and that’s not easy, since I feel like I should include a little character list just with this review.

P.S. Do you even KNOW how hard it was for me to keep from giving this a talky-talk of “Talk like an Egyptian”?

Bonus Factor: Ptolemaic Egypt

Egypt! Pharoahs! Cleopatra! Evil, empire-building Romans! Scheming and conniving and conquering galore! The rise of Rome and the fall of the Hellenistic Egyptian dynasty is one of the sudsiest periods in history, and loads of fun.

Bonus Factor: Historical Fiction

paper in a typewriter with the word HISTORY typed

I’m a sucker for historical fiction — it’s number one on my milk carton, and while I love the Massachusetts Bay Colony or the Plantaganets like any self-respecting history major, I get extra excited for historical fiction set outside of the norm. There’s nothing like swoon and a badass woman based on a true story!

Bonus Factor: Feminism

Raised fists in different skin tones wearing nail polish

There’s no shortage of feminist icons in the story, and I really liked the way Alvear Shecter handled Cleopatra’s suicide because leaving your children in the hands of your enemies? Not cool.

Relationship Status: Lady In Waiting

I’d happily trail around after this book, telling jokes and keeping it company. When it has a tough day, I’ll bring wine and listen to the tales of diplomatic intrigue and the difficulties ruling a kingdom. I don’t want to BE this book, but I loved getting glimpses into its life and daydreaming of gorgeous centurions.

FTC Full Disclosure: I received my review copy from the author. I received neither money nor cocktails for writing this review (dammit!). Cleopatra’s Moon is available now.


Meghan is an erstwhile librarian in exile from Texas. She loves books, cooking and homey things like knitting and vintage cocktails. Although she’s around books all the time, she doesn’t get to read as much as she’d like.