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?
Targeted Age Group: 13+
Genre: Historical Fiction/Historical Fantasy
The Book Excerpt:
“Let go of me.” I threw off his hand as if it were something putrid with rot.
Then, I broke away from the man I was to marry, and ran. People screamed, warning of crocodiles, but in that moment, it seemed better to be eaten by sacred beasts than defiled by Juba.
Before she died, my mother told me that crocodiles would be my judge one day. If my acts were wicked, let them eat my heart. If my heart was light, let it be saved. The largest crocodile rushed toward me, legs splayed widely as it slid its belly along the floor, powerful tail whipping water into the air. I feared it would catch me up in its jaws and tear me to pieces, but when we collided, I fell and the crocodile dropped before me, resting his head in my lap like the most docile dog.
“Selene!” Juba cried.
The hide of a Nile crocodile is rough and scaled, and the animal in my lap was of dark olive hue with brown cross bands. I embraced the head of the great beast and leaned over to kiss him as my blood dripped upon his majestic snout. He was a dangerous creature to whom I’d run for safety, and he, in turn, put his trust in me. He sighed, his reptilian eyes closing in bliss.
We were one another’s refuge. Here, we felt safe—the crocodile and I—refugees from Egypt.
Juba lunged to grab me and the other crocodile charged him. A snort reverberated through the temple. Flashing teeth snapped and narrowly missed taking off Juba’s arm at the elbow. My betrothed leapt back as the crocodile thrashed at the end of its chain and Juba’s voice rose in pitch. “Selene, come here this instant.”
“You don’t command me,” I said.
I held my hands aloft to read the twisting hieroglyphics that carved themselves into the flesh of my arms, knowing that I’d unleashed something more powerful than myself.
I was the Resurrection.
“Selene, if you don’t come, I’ll call for the praetorians,” Juba threatened.
Yes, he would do such a horrible thing. He would bring soldiers into this holy sanctuary, and they would kill the crocodiles. For once, I didn’t fear the Romans, but neither would I allow them to desecrate this place, so I rose and walked to Juba, eyes afire.
The crowd parted and Juba took a step back. The magic in me was powerful; even he could sense it. Pain burned through my arms and blood dripped off my fingertips as I stood before him like a gladiatrix. I wasn’t helpless, this time.