Wednesday 11 August 2021

πŸ“– Book Review ~ The Wolf Den by Elodie Harper

Head of Zeus
May 2021

The Wolf Den Trilogy #1

Sold by her mother. Enslaved in Pompeii's brothel. Determined to survive. Her name is Amara.

 Welcome to the Wolf Den...

Amara was once a beloved daughter, until her father's death plunged her family into penury. Now she is a slave in Pompeii's infamous brothel, owned by a man she despises. Sharp, clever and resourceful, Amara is forced to hide her talents. For as a she-wolf, her only value lies in the desire she can stir in others.

But Amara's spirit is far from broken.

By day, she walks the streets with her fellow she-wolves, finding comfort in the laughter and dreams they share. For the streets of Pompeii are alive with opportunity. Out here, even the lowest slave can secure a reversal in fortune. Amara has learnt that everything in this city has its price. But how much is her freedom going to cost her?

Set in Pompeii's lupanar, The Wolf Den re-imagines the lives of women who have long been overlooked.

πŸ“– My Thoughts..

Any story which brings to attention the lives of the forgotten women of history is to be applauded and The Wolf Den shines a much deserved light on the lives of the prostitutes who were used, and so often abused, in the wolf dens of the ancient world. Set in Pompeii, five years before its  destruction by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius, The Wolf Den takes us deep into the heart of the lupanar and into the re-imagined lives of the she-wolves who once lived there.

When her family fall on hard times, Amara is sold into slavery but rather than become just another victim, Amara is determined to gain her freedom even though life with an avaricious brothel keeper in Pompeii's notorious lupanar is both difficult and fraught with danger. Women employed as prostitutes have no say in what happens to them, nor do they have the luxury of turning down custom so, for them, freedom seems an impossible dream. However, rising above the harsh reality of their lives, is a group of strong and determined women who form a bond of sisterhood, which is, in itself, empowering. There's humour in the novel and also the usual bitchiness which can invariably happen when a group of women live together but there's also a feeling of camaraderie and a sense of belonging even when their lives are shown in emotional detail.

Combining historical fact with fiction, the story brings alive the casual violence of this ancient world. The dark and gloomy atmosphere of the lupanar, from the spluttering lights of smelly candles, the individual rooms which offered no privacy, to the pornographic graffiti on the walls and the erotic paintings which advertise their trade all highlight the harsh reality of the life of a she-wolf in the wolf dens of AD74 Pompeii.

The Wolf Den is a well written, fascinating and finely detailed, character driven novel, which certainly gets the trilogy off to a really good start. 

Elodie Harper is a journalist and prize winning short story writer. Her story 'Wild Swimming' won the 2016 Bazaar of Bad Dreams short story competition, run by The Guardian and Hodder & Stoughton and judged by Stephen King.

The House with the Golden Door, Book #2 in The Wolf Den trilogy is due to be published in 2022.

Twitter @ElodieITV


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