Mar 08

Short & Sweet Review: Lily of the Nile by Stephanie Dray

LILY OF THE NILE by Stephanie Dray

Series: Cleopatra’s Daughter #1
Publisher: Berkley Trade
Published Date: January 2011
Format: Paperback
(Available in Electronic Format)
Pages: 368
Genre: Historical
Age Group: Young Adult +
Source: Publisher

Follow Stephanie Dray on: Twitter | Website | goodreads

Purchase LILY OF THE NILE at: Amazon | TBD | IB | B&N

Publisher’s Synopsis:Heiress of one empire and prisoner of another, it is up to the daughter of Cleopatra to save her brothers and reclaim what is rightfully hers…

To Isis worshippers, Princess Selene and her twin brother Helios embody the divine celestial pair who will bring about a Golden Age. But when Selene’s parents are vanquished by Rome, her auspicious birth becomes a curse.

Trapped in an empire that reviles her heritage and suspects her faith, the young messianic princess struggles for survival in a Roman court of intrigue. She can’t hide the hieroglyphics that carve themselves into her hands, nor can she stop the emperor from using her powers for his own ends. But faced with a new and ruthless Caesar who is obsessed with having a Cleopatra of his very own, Selene is determined to resurrect her mother’s dreams. Can she succeed where her mother failed? And what will it cost her in a political game where the only rule is win-or die?


“What is a use of a book, without pictures or conversations?” I’d first like to thank Berkley Trade for sending me a copy of LILY OF THE NILE in exchange for a fair and honest review.

LILY OF THE NILE is so vivid and lyrical I felt like I was standing beside Princess Cleopatra Selene throughout her inspirational journey. Stephanie Dray’s historical debut is meticulously researched and sets the bar for Cleopatra novels.

LILY OF THE NILE is a fiction based account of daughter of Cleopatra and Mark Antony called Cleopatra “Selene”. The story held my interest and I often had to remind myself that it was, in fact, fiction. Once I began reading the novel, I stepped into Selene’s world. I often felt like I was actually in Ancient Egypt and Rome. I could feel the breeze from the Mediterranean Sea in Alexandria. And as if I were right next to them, I cringed when Roman crowds spit at and called Selene and her brothers, Helios and Philadelphus, names. The story begins around the time of Queen Cleopatra’s death. Because she is now dead, along with her husband, the new Caesar (better known as “Octavian”) captures Selene and her brothers. The story follows Selene from the young teen to a young woman. LILY OF THE NILE is a wonderful book for historical fiction fans. I enjoyed the themes in the novel: social justice, religious freedom, and the power to believe in oneself, despite hardship.

“We’re all mad here.” I read LILY OF THE NILE at a leisurely pace. It’s a long novel and quite descriptive, but don’t let this turn you away. I loved the story from the get-go. I also liked the characters from Selene and her family to Caesar’s court. They are all fascinating and have terrific character arcs. Fortunately, at the beginning of the book, there is a cast of characters to keep everyone straight. You don’t really have to know too much about Ancient Egyptian history to enjoy the book, although it is helpful. Gaius Julius Caesar “Octavian” is not the Caesar whom Cleopatra had a son with, this is an adopted son. Octavian is new, dangerous and egotistical Caesar. He’s taken over after the old Caesar’s assassination.  He wants more than anything to have a Cleopatra of his own. Just so you know, there is an Author’s Note at the end of the book, as well as a Reader Guide.

Even as a teen, Selene breathes a soulfulness and sensuality like her mother, but she’s just as powerful. She finds friends and enemies within the court, including an ally in her tutor, Juba of Africa. Romance anyone? Yes! The ending will definitely leave you hungry for more! As for the cover, it is glorious! It’s one of my favorite covers of 2011.

“I’m late, I’m late, I’m late, for a very important date!” The next book in the series, SONG OF THE NILE, comes out sometime this year. Sorry, I don’t know the exact date. THE SONG OF THE NILE cover is just as awesome..if more so! Check out my previous “Waiting On” Wednesday post –> here.

“Sentence first – verdict afterwards.” I’m giving LILY OF THE NILE 4 “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland Characters” for being smashing!


10 COMMENTSThis post is filed under: Literary Fiction

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10 Responses to “Short & Sweet Review: Lily of the Nile by Stephanie Dray”

  1. Alison says:

    This sounds fascinating. I love when a historical fiction book seems so real that you have to remind yourself that it's not based entirely on fact. Forgive my poor knowledge of Egyptian history. Did Cleopatra have a daughter?

    • Julie says:

      Yes, a daughter Cleopatra Selene and two sons with Mark Antony. Also a son with Julius Caesar. I didn't really know about her until this book.

  2. Small Review says:

    Lovely review! I already wanted to read this book, but you've ramped up my motivation a lot. I was wondering how historically accurate it would be, so I'm glad to hear you give it a positive review in this regard. I'm excited to be transported back to Egypt and Rome!

    • Julie says:

      Well, I know Stephanie Dray did a lot of research, but she certainly took some creative liberty. We obviously don't know a lot from that time or what people said, obviously. But it's very well done. The times, Egyptian and Roman culture, dress, the customs really shine through her lovely narrative.

  3. Lizzy says:

    Sounds good, I love pretty much all historical fiction. Also, your rating system is awesome 🙂

  4. Missie says:

    Julie, stop! You too cute rating system is killing me. 😛

    The cover is just gorgeous, and of all the historical figures that were murdered too soon, I often wish that Mark Antony and Cleopatra's child was spared. How freaking awesome would it be if their direct decedents were still alive today. Can't wait to read this book. I love novels with descriptive settings.

  5. I've heard a lot about this one! Thanks for the review

    Brandi from Blkosiner’s Book Blog

  6. Aylee says:

    What a wonderfully unique setting for YA! This just sounds terribly fascinating and I’m all the more excited to read it after such a positive review!