Being brutally honest about books

Showing posts with label vicky alvear shecter. Show all posts
Showing posts with label vicky alvear shecter. Show all posts

Tuesday, 16 February 2016

Curses & Smoke: A Novel of Pompeii by Vicky Alvear Shecter

Finished reading on: 16 February 2016

I'm experimenting with review styles, so let's see how this goes. Tell me what you think of this format.

The good

  • Gorgeous cover
  • Great for young Classics nerds and fans of Spartacus (and therefore me) – Gladiators! Roman women! Pompeii!
  • Satisfied my need to read more things set in Ancient Rome
  • Cool use of Latin (which I largely understood, thanks to Spartacus)
  • Decent writing
  • Historically accurate - the author clearly knows her stuff without showing off too much; includes interesting author’s notes about the setting
  • Learnt some new things, such as curse tablets, and that Pompeii wasn’t always a Roman town (Sulla took it from the Etruscans in 80BCE)
  • Basically, the setting is the best aspect of the book

The bad

  • The protagonists (Tag and Lucia) are tolerable, unlike a lot of YA characters, but I preferred Quintus, a main character who gets forgotten about, because I love arsehole characters
  • Written in the third person but the POV changes are unnecessarily marked
  • Having only two POVs (Tag's and Lucia's) is limiting, and I would’ve liked to read a least a chapter from each of Quintus and Cornelia’s perspectives
  • Repetitive likening of Tag’s good looks to Apollo's

The ugly

  • Plot based on the romance (booooring!)
  • More gladiator and running-from-volcanic-eruption action needed (not at the same time; that drove me nuts about the 2014 film Pompeii)
  • Ending so disappointing it knocked a whole star off my rating (I was all set to give it four stars)
  • A whole lot of characters' fates forgotten due to limited POVs - what about Cornelia, Quintus, and the gladiators and slaves?

The romance

  • Childhood friends suddenly fall in love
  • Would’ve liked to see the first move between Lucia and Tag at least another 50 pages later on (I prefer slow burn). However, I did appreciate Lucia considering the difference between love and lust this early on.
  • Love triangle avoided due to an unrequited love I’m proud to say I saw from the very start (although I had moments of doubt where I was wondering if my slash goggles were making me see things that weren’t there). The suggested solution for the trio's dilemma was on my mind since then, too.

The blurb

Two star-crossed lovers.
One city on the brink of destruction.
Tag is a medical slave, fated to spend the rest of his life healing his master's injured gladiators. But he yearns to fight in the arena himself and win the freedom to live - and love - as he wants.
Lucia is the daughter of Tag's owner, doomed by her father's greed to marry a man she doesn't love. But she's determined to follow her heart wherever it leads.
Can they find each other before the volcano destroys their whole world?

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I'm Alexandria, a 19-year-old reader/writer/blogger from New Zealand. I love language, history, and sci-fi. Hi! I'm always around if you want to talk, which you can do via comments, the contact form, or Facebook.

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