When I was asked if I wanted an advanced copy of this book, I jumped at the chance. I’ve been a huge Anne Rice fan since I picked up a well-loved copy of Interview with a Vampire at a garage sale when I was about 12 years old. (I still have that paperback, and it is still in the exact same shape it was then…on the verge of disintegration.)
Anyway, I picked up the book and dove in, not realizing until I was about halfway through that this was the second in a series. (I maybe found out because I’d been bragging about my advanced copy, and that was pretty much instant karma.)
The good news is, I didn’t really feel that there was such a lack of depth and worldbuilding that I didn’t know what was going on in this book. There was enough of the backstory present to make curious about the details that came before and to make me comfortable that I was running in the dark with a story I didn’t know enough about.
The story is, as to be expected, elaborate, slow-building, and meandering. There is a lot of detail, and at times it’s easy to get bogged down in all the things. It was a slower read than usual (I’m generally a very speedy reader), but it was still gorgeous, intriguing, and gripping.
I enjoyed the duality of Cleopatra and Sibyl, even with the too on-the-nose name, loved the story of Ramses and Julia, but gotta admit, all my love was for Bektaten and her immortal cat (who, presumably, as learned to use a toilet by now).
The second half of the book is where the action really picked up, and about 70% in is where I hit “can’t put it down” stage. Don’t get me wrong – I was interested in the entire story, but I wasn’t “oops, I missed my bus stop” into it until 2/3 of the way through. Finding out the answer to the Sibyl/Cleopatra mystery and how it would be resolved (for I carried such deep, deep sympathy for the mad, resurrected queen) was really the point of the whole book, but not something that seemed to be front and center for the first half.
If I had to do it all over again, I would definitely read the first book in the series first, and I definitely would still feel the same deep satisfaction whe Saqnos makes his choice. *no spoilers*
The ending wasn’t as satisfying as I’d prefer, but overall, I’ve no complaints. The story was rich and complex, the characters well-developed and capable of creating great feeling in me, and the world was intriguing and overall, beyond satisfactory.
“The vision receded, leaving her breathless… Only she wasn’t alone. She heard a voice, clear and gentle, speaking to her across the connection that had changed the course of her life.