Genre: Historical fiction
Nefertari is a princess, the niece of the hated and forgotten Queen Nefertiti. Her family's history haunts the Egyptian people and Nefertari has to live through the prejudice and unfairness of her daily life. She falls in love with her childhood friend, Ramesses, who soon becomes Pharaoh. When they marry, Nefertari is not accepted as his wife. She struggles to become Queen and honour her family's history while uncovering the secrets of the palace.I don't say it often, but Egyptian history fascinates me. Not enough to make me sit through another boring history class in school, but I didn't have to second-guess my decision to read The Heretic Queen. Just as I had hoped and expected, this book is filled with scandal, intrigue, romance, mystery, and an endless supply of excitement. I waited to start this book (I needed to cut down my library pile first!) but once I did, the pages flew by. One moment I was sitting in my house on a comfy chair, and the next moment I was transported back thousands of years into this rich, cultured land. What an experience.
There's such a wonderful array of characters in this book. We have intelligent, mature Nefertari. Merit, her loving and motherly nurse. Ramesses, the bold yet gentle husband. Iset, Nefertari's jealous and harsh competition. Henuttawy, the cunning and evil Priestess. Those personalities might sound cliche when I describe them, but they're not. Not at all. Each one has secrets, feelings, wants, needs, desires, that don't all come across at once. Slowly, we gain information about them as we formulate our opinions and decide what their intentions truly are. The lies and scandals in The Heretic Queen are lovely, and it's what makes this book so intensely readable.
Plot wise, the book is complex. At first the names and relations of people are hard to wrap your mind around, but it comes eventually. There's a family tree and map at the front of the novel, and a glossary at the back. They do help, but I managed to get through most of the book without referring to them - it is possible! Part of what makes this book so substantial is the fact that it is historical fiction, so the events and characters and based upon actual people. Michelle Moran wrote a "historical note" at the end, which deepened my love and understanding for the book. Having the realistic aspect reinforced into my brain was muchly appreciated, and makes this book a lot more astounding. The characters felt real enough as they were, but knowing that they were actual people is too cool for words.
Even if you don't like this genre of book, please, please don't shy away. The Heretic Queen is filled with everything that makes a book a success and is, in the truest sense of the word, fascinating.
Recommendation: Read this book - that goes for everyone.