Thursday, May 6, 2010

Review of "Selene of Alexandria" by Faith L. Justice

I warn you right now, this review is probably going to be a complete gush-fest. I finished it last night, and could barely sleep because I was so excited about this book. Whew... well, let's get right into it!

Disclaimer: I received this book (ebook copy), "Selene of Alexandria" in exchange for a review. This book is from's Member Giveaway program, put up by either the author or publisher.

Type: Historical Fiction (With some historical facts thrown in)

Description, taken from the author's website: " Set in AD 412 Alexandria, Egypt and based on historical events, this story of ambition, love and murder brings to life colorful characters and an exotic time and place. SELENE is bright, impulsive, stubborn, and a little spoiled by her father, a city councilor. Since her mother’s death, she longs to forgo the privileges of her class to become a physician— an impossible dream for rich Christian girls who never engage in a profession. But Selene perseveres and gains a powerful champion—HYPATIA, the renowned mathematician and Lady Philosopher of Alexandria.
The old Christian Patriarch dies and the city splits in support of two candidates. After days of rioting, the Patriarch’s nephew CYRIL is proclaimed Patriarch and sets about consolidating the Christian sects and purging Alexandria of pagans and Jews. ORESTES, the new Augustal Prefect, struggles to keep the peace and also seeks the advice of Hypatia. He finds her a woman of enormous personal charm and astute political insight and places her first among his advisors, to the humiliation of the new Patriarch. These events set the stage for a contest of wills between Church and Empire. [...]
It's not long before Selene is unwittingly drawn into the deadly rivalry between Cyril and Orestes. She comes of age amidst riot, plague and political intrigue . But will Selene survive the consequences of her own ambitions and impulsive actions? "

I'll start off with the one issue I came accross while reading this book - it did take a little while for me to get hooked. Getting the ebook version, I wasn't completely sure what I was reading (since I didn't have a synopsis on the back to go on. My first thought was that this was just a coming of age tale.. but it's so much more, because it's not just about Selene. It's about her brother, her servant, the local leader of the church, the local leader of government, Selene's father, her friend, the lady philosopher... ahh! I loved them all. Well, not all of them. Cyril, to me at least, was definitely the big bad guy, and boy was he good at it!

At the back of the book, there are some notes and historical facts, about which characters are not just characters, but recorded historical figures. Some of what occured in this book actually happened during this time, and I think that makes the events you read about even more powerful. Frankly, there were times while reading I couldn't make out the words... and it turns out, I couldn't do so because my hand was shaking so much I was so nervous. I was afraid for the characters, I was afraid of the characters.. They were real to me. The author, of course, used her creative license with looks, and, I'm sure, some motives as well, but she did an amazing job. Everything was entirely believable, and in some cases, relatable.

At a certain point in this book, I'm going to guess it was about a third of the way into it, I couldn't put it down. Or if I did, it was under extreme protest. I took my reader with me everywhere, pulling it out to read a few more sentences even when I knew I would only have a few spare moments. I needed to know what happened. And there were a few times in the book I teared up because I was so into the story.

I hope to see more from this author, whether it be more historical fiction.. or anything, really. I'm quite the history nerd, so of course I was a little in love with this book already, but I honestly think this book will appeal to anyone and everyone.

As for the rating, I would give this book a six out of five if I thought that might not be a little overly dramatic on my part... so I guess it'll have to be a perfect FIVE out of FIVE. Please, I hope you all get a chance to check this book out.

Happy Reading (you'd be even happier if you started reading "Selene of Alexandria".. then came to talk to me about it!), and enjoy the rest of your week!
~!~ Morning Glow

1 comment:

Faith L. Justice said...

What a wonderful review! When an author puts her baby into the lottery at LibraryThing, she has no way of knowing where it will land and what kind of review the winner will give it. It can be anything from "Read it" to a literary critique. Writing is a lonely business and hearing from readers like this makes it all worth while. Thank you!