Thursday, January 15, 2015

Review: A Day of Fire

Stephanie Dray, Ben Kane, E. Knight, Sophie Perinot, et al

A Day of Fire

By Stephanie Dray, Ben Kane, Sophie Perinot, et al.
Knight Media, October 2014

About the Book

Pompeii was a lively resort flourishing in the shadow of Mount Vesuvius at the height of the Roman Empire. When Vesuvius erupted in an explosion of flame and ash, the entire town would be destroyed. Some of its citizens died in the chaos, some escaped the mountain’s wrath . . . and these are their stories.

A boy loses his innocence in Pompeii’s flourishing streets. An heiress dreads her wedding day, not knowing it will be swallowed by fire. An ex-legionary stakes his entire future on a gladiator bout destined never to be finished. A crippled senator welcomes death, until a tomboy on horseback comes to his rescue. A young mother faces an impossible choice for her unborn child as the ash falls. A priestess and a whore seek redemption and resurrection as the town is buried.

Six authors bring to life overlapping stories of patricians and slaves, warriors and politicians, villains and heroes who cross one another’s path during Pompeii’s fiery end. Who will escape, and who will be buried for eternity?

My Review

A senator with a death wish, a reluctant bride, an indebted former soldier, a social outcast with an obsession for horses, a young man stung by unrequited love, a young woman in labor at the worst of times, a whore with the curse of foresight and her scrappy older sisters who fight for survival—what do they all have in common? They are characters in Pompeii on that fateful fall day, and all are caught in the snare of Vesuvius when it erupts. All are trapped in a terror they cannot understand. Some flee and beat the volcano’s long reach. Others flee but are not so lucky, while still others accept their fate at home, watching and waiting as death comes for them.

All the stories in this book are effortlessly woven together by six different authors, which makes this book extraordinary. Most characters appear in each story, their tales overlapping and continuing from changing perspectives. Yet the characters remain true despite the various authors. Many of the people, names, and locations are authentic, and the stories combine to provide an insider’s look into that terrifying day. A chance to see these characters through changing viewpoints keeps readers engaged as each person has their own demons to face when the sky suddenly erupts. Their lives, which were so very different from one another before, now coalesce as they battle to survive.

Diana of the Cornelii was probably my favorite. Her caustic wit, independent spirit, and fearless perseverance made her trip over the rubble and through the ash captivating, and her verbal sparing with the senator added a degree of levity to an otherwise harrowing tale.

If you’re looking for a book that will keep you on your toes, be sure to check this one out.

Rebecca Henderson Palmer,

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