By Maria Dahvana Headley
Dutton, $25.95, 405 pages
Queen of Kings tells much more than the usual tale of Cleopatra, the famous queen of Egypt. Imaginative and thrilling, this novel dives into a part of Cleopatra’s story that most people won’t be familiar with… her afterlife! Beginning with the invasion of Egypt by the Romans in 30 B.C., this novel quickly twists and turns into a fantastic journey through the deserts and into Rome, to the Underworld and back again. Be prepared for a wonderful blend of mystery, magic, history, and tragedy.
Under the command of Octavian Caesar, Rome is taking Egypt for its own, but with some unexpected casualties, including Mark Antony. After learning of her husband’s death, Cleopatra uses a dangerous spell to summon and bind herself to the goddess Sekhmet, thus becoming immortal. In her quest to destroy the Romans, Cleopatra realizes that the goddess has an insatiable appetite for blood, but Cleopatra is reluctant to oblige that craving. While she is indeed hungry for revenge against Octavian, she strives to remain a separate entity from this dark goddess and be reunited with her husband’s soul in the afterlife, as well as ensure the safety of their children.
This is a book that will keep you enthusiastically reading. Marie Dahvana Headley does a fantastic job of keeping her readers glued to the pages of this novel by her use of vivid and descriptive language, a variety of in-depth narrators, and several unexpected twists. From the start, the story is intriguing and suspenseful, with an epic and intense battle leading to a satisfying ending.
Reviewed by Aimee Rasmussen