In the midst of all this dramatic history was a particularly vivid and frightening moment, the eruption of Vesuvius and the destruction of Pompeii (79 AD). Most of us know the horror left behind by the pyroclastic surge of that volcano: bodies forever frozen in positions of agony. I'm surprised I haven't run across historical fiction set in Pompeii before, but as soon as I heard about Curses and Smoke, released last month, I snatched it up.
|Obviously not the eruption of Vesuvius, but the |
pyroclastic cloud of death might be similar
The point of view switches between Lucia, a daughter of a rich owner of gladiators, and betrothed against her will, and Tages, a slave, and also a medicus (healer).
|How I pictured Lucia|
While basically a forbidden love story, this story surprised me with two unexpected twists: one with Lucia's mother and father (please read the historical note in the back about the letter from a husband to his wife that inspired this shocker!), and the other with Quintus, the spoiled rich patrician who flirts with Lucia but is... ah, that would be a spoiler.
Each chapter heading includes a countdown, starting with One Month Before and ending with Minutes Before. Such a simple but effective way to heighten tension. But there's a surprise twist with this countdown, too.
My favorite quote:
They promenaded around the market, occasionally stealing glances at each other as they chatted about the household. Sometimes they bumped shoulders or brushed arms. Lucia felt as if all her awareness and sensation were gravitating toward Tag like iron to a magnet rock. She wondered how the weight of it didn't make her tip over into him.
Definitely a Caesar's thumbs up for this book:
And, since the movie Gladiator is one of my favorites, I just had to throw in my favorite quote from that movie, too.
What's your favorite historical fiction or favorite period from history?