***** - The Wolf Den
THE WOLF DEN ELODIE HARPER
Sold by her mother. Enslaved in Pompeii's brothel. Determined to survive. Her name is Amara. Welcome to the Wolf Den...
Amara was once a beloved daughter, until her father's death plunged her family into penury. Now she is a slave in Pompeii's infamous brothel, owned by a man she despises. Sharp, clever and resourceful, Amara is forced to hide her talents. For as a she-wolf, her only value lies in the desire she can stir in others.
But Amara's spirit is far from broken.
By day, she walks the streets with her fellow she-wolves, finding comfort in the laughter and dreams they share. For the streets of Pompeii are alive with opportunity. Out here, even the lowest slave can secure a reversal in fortune. Amara has learnt that everything in this city has its price. But how much is her freedom going to cost her?
Set in Pompeii's lupanar, The Wolf Den reimagines the lives of women who have long been overlooked.
I admit that I often struggle with historical fiction stories. Although I love the premise of them and do enjoy reading them, they often take me a lot longer to read and I struggle with engagement – putting them down a lot more often than other genres. I’m happy to say this was not the case with The Wolf Den which I devoured from start to finish!
Set in ancient Pompeii, The Wolf Den tells the story of Amara; a woman who has been sold into slavery and works in a brothel. We see the year through her eyes as she tries to make a name for herself and work on her ultimate goal of becoming a free woman. Amara is a strong female lead and the story keeps her perspective all the way through. She is ambitious and interesting and we feel fully empathetic towards her plight. The other characters described are all fully formed and well-described too, from the other women in the brothel to the shady men who run the city.
The setting of Pompeii felt very well researched and never felt jarring or unrealistic. Having been to the ruined city nothing felt out of place and the author also includes a quote from a book written at the time or a snippet of graffiti found in the area at the start of her chapters to immerse us into the world. There is, of course sexual content although it is done tastefully and an undercurrent of fear runs along the setting in a way that is unsettling – this is a city where the women dare not travel too far without a man to escort them.
The plot itself was well paced and kept the reader hooked into finding out the fate of Amara and her friends. Although there’s no cliff hangers or big reveal, I was really invested into finding out about Amara and could have read more easily. The book also ramps up to a great climax and the ending is even more poignant with knowing in hindsight about what is coming to Pompeii in 79AD. There’s some really moving parts to the book and it’s a sad and grim portrayal of the women who lived at the time whose stories are so often silenced.
Overall, The Wolf Den is a compelling and moving read – highly recommended. Thank you to NetGalley & Head of Zeus – Apollo for the chance to read the ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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