Book: Mistress of Rome (The Empress of Rome #1)
Author: Kate Quinn
Genre: Historical Fiction
Read if you like: stories set in ancient Rome, historical fiction with strong female leads.
Trigger warnings: cutting, attempted suicide, suicide, extreme violence, sexual abuse, racial slurs against Jewish people.
I have loved Kate Quinn for a while. I started with The Alice Network a few years ago and then read The Huntress and The Rose Code as they released. But I’ve wanted to tackle her back list with for a while. She has two historical fiction series set in Ancient Rome. This is the first book in one of those series.
The story starts with two slaves. Thea is 15 and a Jewish slave to Lady Lepida (literally the most evil bitch), she frequently cuts her wrists and has thought of committing suicide many times. Then she meets Arius, he’s a new gladiator captured from Britannia, he’s a few years older but Thea is mesmerized by him in the arena. The story spans about a 20 year period of Thea and Arius’s lives and the constant hardship they deal with as slaves.
Hook – 2/2: The book starts out really violently. First the main character is cutting and then the other main character is fighting for his life in the gladiator ring. So major trigger warnings for cutting and extreme violence. Their lives are described in detail as being quite horrible. They way they are both treated by their owners as slaves and Thea is treated badly because she is Jewish as well. I immediately felt so bad for both of them and started hoping for a better life for them.
Plot – 2/3: Overall I loved the story but I did find a few times that it was maybe too violent. Rome was an exceptionally violent time, especially for a gladiator. So it is understandable, but sometimes I felt it was a bit much. This is a story of hardship and survival against all odds. But it did not make me cry. If you know me and my reviews well, you know I love a book that makes me cry. I was very emotional at parts of the book but it never got me all the way to full tears.
Writing – 2/3: I still love Kate Quinn’s writing but there were a few lulls in this one. It was the first book in a series so I can give her that. I will definitely be reading the next book in the series because I loved the story, but I hope book 2 is a little more fast paced.
Characters – 2/2: I really got a feel for the emotions of each character which is something Quinn always does well. She also wrote the perfect villain in my opinion. I absolutely loathed Lady Lepida. And loved all the other characters.
Overall I really enjoyed this back list book and will definitely be continuing the series in November.