Title: Curses and Smoke: A Novel of Pompeii
Author: Vicky Alvear Shecter
Publication: May 27th 2014 by Arthur A. Levine Books
Genre: Young Adult ~ Historical Fiction
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Kobo
Cover Rating: 5/5
Overall Rating: 5/5
When your world blows apart, what will you hold onto?
TAG is a medical slave, doomed to spend his life healing his master’s injured gladiators. But his warrior’s heart yearns to fight in the gladiator ring himself and earn enough money to win his freedom.
LUCIA is the daughter of Tag’s owner, doomed by her father’s greed to marry a much older Roman man. But she loves studying the natural world around her home in Pompeii, and lately she’s been noticing some odd occurrences in the landscape: small lakes disappearing; a sulfurous smell in the air. . . .
When the two childhood friends reconnect, each with their own longings, they fall passionately in love. But as they plot their escape from the city, a patrician fighter reveals his own plans for them — to Lucia’s father, who imprisons Tag as punishment. Then an earthquake shakes Pompeii, in the first sign of the chaos to come. Will they be able to find each other again before the volcano destroys their whole world?
I’ve wanted to read a book about Pompeii for a very long time. I never really came across one (that wasn’t non-fiction) until now. I’ve enjoyed other books by Vicky Alvear Shecter before so I’ve been really excited to read this book and I’m so glad it didn’t disappoint at all. The ending broke my heart a bit but I thought Curses and Smoke was a fantastic read!
Tag and Lucia were perfection. I loved reading their points of view, I loved them as a couple and I loved them as singular individuals. They each had a story to tell and although they lead very different lives (with Tag being a slave and Lucia being the daughter of Tag’s owner), they were really amazing together.
It’s also obvious that a lot of research and effort were put in creating the best image of Pompeii as there could be. It shows through the writing —which was incredible by the way— and through the emotions I felt while reading the book. The author did a really great job in that department in my opinion.
I have to mention that I really liked how Pliny the Elder was mentioned a couple of times because he actually did excist. It was really nicely done by the author. Also, you should really read the ‘author’s note’ at the end of the story if you decide to read this book because it’s really interesting. Seriously, do it!
The ending was so freaking heartbreaking for me. But I kind of figured that it would end tragically. By the end I had tears in my eyes. But then again, those are the best books—the ones that bring out emotion.
Overall, Curses and Smoke is not just a book about the destruction of Pompeii. It’s so much more. It’s a love story, filled with intrigue and danger and I loved every part of it. I would recommend it to everyone I know!
Vicky Alvear Shecter is the award-winning author of Curses and Smoke, Cleopatra’s Moon, Hades Speaks! A Guide to the Underworld by the Greek God of the Dead, and other books about the ancient world and mythology.
I've had my eye on this one for a while but was a little unsure about it, nice review and I think I'll probably give it a read after all!
Thea @ Gizzimomo's Book Shelf
Go for it! 🙂