This is the first novel in the Roman Mysteries series. I picked it up in an offer in Waterstones and gave it to my daughter to read since they were doing the Romans in school at that time.
She devoured it, worked her way through all the subsequent stories that were published, and then waited eagerly for each new volume to appear dragging me into town so that I could buy it for her. So I thought I’d better read one of them to find out what it was that gave them their appeal. Actually I’ve read a few of them because they’re really rather good, but I’m just going to concentrate on the first one here.
This is a wonderful book that really brings Ancient Rome to life – you can almost taste the figs and smell the dusty streets. And it’s a good story – an adventure mystery set in the ancient world.
But what I think gives this book its appeal is the characters. We have Flavia, a well bred Roman girl, her slave Nubia, Jonathan the Jewish boy next door (who is really a Christian) and Lupus the deaf mute beggar boy. These are a group of characters that are really well drawn and authentic, that the reader really empathises with and cares about. They have great depth and each of them reflects an aspect of Roman society. They drive the story forwards and when the novel ends you don’t want to leave them.
My analysis: Engaging Characters