“Song of the Nile” by Stephanie Dray

I was extremely disappointed in this second book in the Cleopatra’s Daughter series.  I read Dray’s first novel, Lily of the Nile and was excited for the follow-up.  I enjoy reading about Cleopatra and Augustus, and this novel infuriated me.  The first book focused on Cleopatra and Marc Antony’s children: Alexander Helios, Cleopatra Selene, and Philadelphus as they were taken to Rome after their parents suicide.  This series includes a magical aspect, and Selene is portrayed as very haughty albeit royal girl with mysterious wind powers.  In Song of the Nile, Selene is married to her tutor, Juba, and they are awarded Mauretania as a kingdom.  On her wedding day, Selene dresses proactively and most of Rome is up in arms since it signifies that she is Augustus’ whore.  After this event, the book goes completely bonkers!

First of all, Selene has a prior yet interesting relationship with Emperor Augustus.  In this novel, Dray turns on the creepy factor and has Augustus RAPE Selene and possibly impregnate her.  Yes, this is fiction, but there are some liberties that I just can’t accept.  I have read many books about Augustus, and even though he was somewhat evil and manipulative, he was still responsible for bringing the Golden Age of Rome.  It has been written that he would condemn people who would not be of pure Roman value and virtue, so I cannot think he would find it acceptable to rape his own ward.  (Especially the children of two of his greatest enemies).  So in the story, Selene consents to Augustus since she wants to reclaim her mother’s kingdom of Egypt.  This bothered me since it somewhat propagates the stereotypical Cleopatra myth that she would sleep with anything just to keep her kingdom.  Cleopatra Selene was only 10 when her parents died.  Is that enough time to teach a girl on how sex is a weapon?  Perhaps.  Perhaps not.

If that wasn’t enough drama, Selene decides it would be an awesome idea to sleep with her brother.  Oh excuse me, not just her brother but her TWIN brother.  Yeah they shared womb time.  (Apparently inside and outside which is just gross).  Sure, Egyptian pharaohs “married” their siblings and what not, but having sex with your twin is a little too Flowers in the Attic for me (at least those two weren’t TWINS!  TWINS!  Same womb!  Ok, enough, I’m sorry.) 

I hate that this book didn’t focus on the love between Selene and Juba since they really were a love match.  There will be a third book, but I may not read it after this disaster.

Jen’s Rating: **

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