Cleopatra's Moon - Vicky Alvear Shecter This is the story of Cleopatra Selene, daughter of the infamous Cleopatra and Mark Anthony. The story starts out during Selene’s early childhood days and ventures just a bit into her adulthood. Selene’s story is a fascinating one simply because she faded into the background of history by living under her famous parents’ shadow. It seems like little was known about her until recently and now there are a few books chronicling her life (Cleopatra's Daughter and the Lily of the Nile series). Although Selene wasn’t famous like her mother she was still very accomplished and successful for a woman of her time.

I find anything with Egypt and Rome captivating, so when I saw this audio offered for free under the SYNC YA Literature program I jumped on it. When I started listening I can’t say I was sold on it. This was one where I wish I had the paper copy just to compare the audio narrator’s voice to the voice in my head. Kirsten Potter made Cleopatra sound haughty and it sounded like a parody of how Cleopatra might sound. I found it distracting. I also didn’t like her voice for little Ptolemy. He came off as an annoying little brat. This may have to do with the way the character was written, but then again it may have to do with the narrator’s interpretation. Either way, I didn’t like it.

It took me some time to warm up to the story because I didn’t like the young Selene. She came off as bratty and arrogant. There is a particular scene, which is mentioned by some other reviewers on here, in which Selene, her twin Alexandros and friends are speaking with a Jewish scholar about the religion. Instead what ensues is a 5 minute long diatribe against Hebrews. Rather than listening to what the Jewish scholar had to say Selene and the rest of the kiddies come off as know-it-alls as they start spewing about free will and women’s rights and how superior their religion is in comparison. The Jewish scholar comes of as a twit who can’t defend his own religion. This scene is pivotal in planting the seeds of ‘fate vs free will’ in Selene. I understand what the author was trying to do and she even explains it in the author’s note. I just wish she had gone about it in a different manner, because after this scene I wanted to slap the shit out of all the kids, particularly Selene, and it really colored my view of her for the rest of the story. It was hard to drum up any sympathy for such an arrogant little snot after that.

description

I slogged through the rest of the story after that, but then it reached a point…when Octavianus comes with his forces and that’s when the story picked up the pace and became more interesting. I thought Schecter did well evoking the terror that these children must have felt at having witnessed their parents’ death and then being uprooted from home. I also liked how Schecter brought to the forefront how Selene must have felt having Cleopatra as her mom. I never thought about it before, but naturally as the daughter of such an influential woman, who was vilified as nothing more than a seductress, she would be compared to her mother at some point. I can’t imagine having to live under that shadow, so I thought it was apt that Schecter’s Selene had to navigate the waters of childhood always believing that she wasn’t good enough and ultimately had to discover her own path. This second part is really what saved the rest of the story for me.

As some reviewers pointed out this a more mature version of Selene’s story, especially compared to Michelle Moran’s Cleopatra’s Daughter. There are sexual innuendos thrown in, near rape scenes, homosexuality and some sexy scenes. I don’t recall any actual sex, but it comes close to it. I only mention this because it’s not what some readers would deem a clean read. In that sense I can see the comparison to The Luxe series. But really a book about ancient Rome or Egypt that is completely clean is not historically accurate. :)