Cleo tells the story of the young Cleopatra. Yes, that Cleopatra. Her father, the Pharoah, has just fled Egypt and her mother has been murdered. Fleeing for her life, Cleo takes refuge in a sacred temple of Isis, a goddess of whom Cleo is the Chosen representative, but as time passes Isis’s power wanes and Cleo is forced to return to Alexandria.
Lucy Coats has obviously done her research into this topic. Just Wikipedia-ing Cleopatra show that so much of what we know about Egypt during this period is open for interpretation and I think Coats did a good job of using the facts we know and building a back story from them. I especially enjoyed the detail she included about the gods and life in Egypt.
The plot moves quite slowly and there’s a lot of description but there was still enough going on to keep me interested, especially in the political manoeuvring between Cleo and her sisters. The romance between Cleo and Khai was very sweet and didn’t overwhelm the rest of the story. Khai was an okay character - he was nice enough but at times it did feel like he was just inserted to provide romantic interest. I actually preferred the relationship between Cleo and Charm - it was very sweet and gave a lot of depth to Cleo’s personality.
I liked Cleo’s voice in this book. She was very relatable and yeah, I know that she wouldn’t have used phrases like ‘boy toy’ and so on, but guess what? She wouldn’t have used any of the words in this book, because she spoke Ancient Greek, not Modern English, so I think it’s okay that Coats used a bit of poetic licence. She made some odd choices at times, like risking everything by kissing her boyfriend where they could be seen, but on the whole I liked her. She did, however, come across as a bit docile. I didn’t really connect the Cleo in this book to the Cleopatra who was a powerful ruler and who seduced Mark Anthony and Julius Caesar.
Also, Cleo being the Chosen of Isis became a little bit off-putting after a while. It seemed like every time she was in a sticky situation, Isis would send a sign, like a flock of ibis, and everything would be okay. Cleo was an intelligent girl, so I’d have liked to have seen her use her brains to get out of difficult situations, rather than relying on a deus ex machina.
All in all, I thought Cleo was an okay book. It didn’t knock my socks off, but it was a nice enough read.