I'm finally getting through my TBR-pile and trust me readers, this one is a goodie! I got Cleo by Lucy Coats originally from Netgalley, but the file was almost unreadable. Luckily, Lucy is one of the nicest authors I know and send me a gorgeous paperback version of the book in a customised Cleo envelope! Of course, I'm super grateful for her kindness, but it doesn't influence my review in any way.
Her precious mother is dead - and it isn't an accident! The young Cleopatra - Pharaoh's illegitimate daughter - must flee the royal palace at Alexandria or die too. As her evil half-sisters usurp the throne, Cleo finds sanctuary at the sacred temple of Isis, where years later she becomes initiated into the secret Sisters of the Living Knot. But now Isis's power is failing, Egypt is in danger, and Cleo must prove her loyalty to her goddess by returning to the Alexandria she hates. She must seek out the hidden map which is the key to returning Isis's power - on pain of death. But will she be able to evade her horrible sisters? And will she find dreamy Khai, the über-hot Librarian boy she met as she fled Alexandria years before? Cleo's powerful destiny is about to unfold...
Now I've been looking at the Goodreads page of this book a little bit and saw lots of comments about the maturity of Cleo. The maturity of YA narrators is something I always focus on and when a 16 year old acts 14 (in Goose for example) or acts older (the reason why I hated Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe), I immediately dislike the book.
However, I do not agree with all the other Goodreads reviews: I liked Cleo's maturity. Is she bratty, naive and demanding? Yes, she is, but then again she's also a Pharaoh's daughter who always, even when she flees the castle, has people doing her every beckoning. Being raised like that would make anyone bratty and demanding and her lack of experience completely explains her naive nature in my eyes. I will say that if you want a sarcastic, cynical Cleopatra that has maturity beyond her age, especially because she's so special, you're better off picking up another historical novel about Cleopatra.
When I talked to Lucy, she told me she loved the Grave Mercy series and reading this book I can definitely see the influences. (Lucy just informed me that she read GM AFTER writing Cleo! So I guess it's just not influence but just a very happy coincidence!) Cleo is clearly mostly a historical fiction book, with the emphasis on Cleopatra's youth and her life in Egypt. However that's not the only thing in this book; Cleo can communicate with the Gods. With communicating I don't mean Percy Jackson-style communication with the Gods, but more visions and voices inside Cleo's head. This adds an element of originality to the story which means that even hardcore Egyptian history lovers can be surprised by this book.
The only small downside to the fantasy elements, and to the book overall for me, was the role it plays in the love story. Cleo sees a boy named Khai right before she flees the palace. She doesn't see him for four years, yet she has these dreams in which she can communicate with him. This seemed odd to me and her extreme fixation on these dreams and Khai annoyed me. She's the chosen one, she has to save Egypt, I'm sure she could think of more important things than a boy (but then again, she's a teenager so maybe she can't).
This book is a solid four out of five stars for me. Besides my annoyance with the paranormal romance, this story was nearly flawless. Cleo was a realistic royal teenager and I loved seeing her grow throughout the story. I think this book is a great read for anyone who enjoys Grave Mercy or the Percy Jackson books.
Have you read this book? Please share your thoughts below!