Reviewed by Grace Soledad

Cleopatra’s Moon is not the type of book that you will normally find in young adult literature. While most books focus on a smaller viewpoint, Cleopatra’s Moon draws in on a larger perspective. It deals with politics, intrigue, death, suspense, and the darkest bits of history. While still incredibly intriguing to a young adult audience, most adult readers will be satisfied by this novel as well.

Cleopatra Selene has been raised in luxury. While primped by palace servants, she also has a deeper insight into the roiling confusion of politics in Egypt and conflict with Rome. She is preparing to help rule Egypt alongside her brother when they are both old enough to take the throne.

What Selene doesn’t expect is a war. Her mother is killed and her father commits suicide. Egypt is thrown into chaos, and the Romans control the government.

Octavianus decides to take the children back to Rome, because they can do far worse things in Egypt, where many people are still loyal to them. Treated awfully in Rome, Selene and her brother vow to try to escape from the fates that the Roman Empire has dangling over their heads.

Cleopatra’s Moon follows Selene through one of the darkest times in Egyptian history, showcasing the emotional and political consequences of the Roman takeover, and chronicling their time as prisoners of Rome. It didn’t focus on boring facts and figures, which would turn off most young adults, but on the powerful imagery accompanying them.

To begin with, I adored Selene’s character. The book spanned months and years into her life and I got to truly see her grow in her later years when faced with the troubles thrown at her. The supporting characters were brilliant as well, but the true star was the protagonist.

Vicky Alvear Shecter’s writing was smart, mature, and polished. Shecter made the topic engaging to a teen audience while still appealing to a wider range by subtly infusing history into a clever story.

Cleopatra’s Moon is truly a standout novel and was a source of wonder for the time I sat – spellbound – absorbing the story.

Rating: 5/5

Check out our reviews of other books featuring Cleopatra Selene:

Song of the Nile by Stephanie Dray

Cleopatra’s Daughter by Michelle Moran

Grace Soledad is a teenage bibliophile who runs the blog Words Like Silver. She is described as “antisocial” because she constantly has her nose buried in a book or a notebook. When not reading, she can be found dancing, writing, or at the beach. 

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Arthur A. Levine Books. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.