ARC Mini Review – The Wolf Den

Hello, everyone! I hope you are all having a great Sunday so far. Today I’m excited to review The Wolf Den by Elodie Harper. I’ve seen a lot of praise for this book ever since it was released in the UK last year. It will finally be published in the US on Tuesday, and I was lucky enough to snag an eARC. I love Greek and Roman myths and legends and the ancient world in general. So, I was really looking forward to reading this one.

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 reimagines the lives of women who have long been overlooked.

***Thank you to NetGalley and Union Square & Co. for a copy of the book. My review contains my honest thoughts about my reading experience.***

This book was a brutal and unflinchingly honest look at the women who were trapped in the lowest rungs of Roman society. The writing was good and did an excellent job of bringing Pompeii and the Roman world to life. While reading, I was transported into the setting and felt like I was walking the streets of Pompeii along with the characters. I enjoyed the inclusion of quotes from actual Romans, such as Ovid, Pliny, and the unknown authors of graffiti, at the beginning of each chapter. They did a good job setting the stage for each segment of the story while also giving a glimpse into the mindset of actual people alive during the time-frame of this novel. The pace of the story was slow but deliberate, and it was largely character driven and focused on the changes in Amara and the other women as they experienced the hardships of daily life in the brothel. All of the characterizations were well-developed, and each of the women was an interesting look at the different ways one can cope with undergoing persistent trauma and objectification. The relationships between the women were also fascinating, especially as new women were introduced or the status quo changed, because they were an excellent illustration of group dynamics at work. Even though I enjoyed all of the character arcs, no matter how minor, I loved reading about the protagonist, Amara, the most. Her resilience, intelligence, and refusal to accept her place in the world wove together to create a compelling character and story. The parallels between her growth and the story of her master’s background were haunting and foreshadowed a potential struggle with her inner darkness in future books, which I can’t wait to read. If you enjoy books set in the ancient world and/or books about strong women in the face of extreme adversity, this might be the book for you. I rate this book 4 out of 5 stars and am really looking forward to the sequel!

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