Book review: Feast of Sorrow by Crystal King

From the official blurb:

“On a blistering day in the twenty-sixth year of Augustus Caesar’s reign, a young chef, Thrasius, is acquired for the exorbitant price of twenty thousand denarii. His purchaser is the infamous gourmet Marcus Gavius Apicius, wealthy beyond measure, obsessed with a taste for fine meals from exotic places, and a singular ambition: to serve as culinary advisor to Caesar, an honor that will cement his legacy as Rome’s leading epicure.

Apicius rightfully believes that Thrasius is the key to his culinary success, and with Thrasius’s help he soon becomes known for his lavish parties and fantastic meals. Thrasius finds a family in Apicius’s household, his daughter Apicata, his wife Aelia, and heFeast of Sorrowr handmaiden, Passia whom Thrasius quickly falls in love with. But as Apicius draws closer to his ultimate goal, his reckless disregard for any who might get in his way takes a dangerous turn that threatens his young family and places his entire household at the mercy of the most powerful forces in Rome”.

I must confess straight away – classical antiquity is not usually my thing. I tend to be much more comfortable among Renaissance gowns or bias-cut dresses than I am among stolas and togas. So the fact that I couldn’t put this book down really should say how great it was!

The atmosphere of extravagance and danger, of dark premonition and blinding glamour was superbly executed. The research was meticulous, and it showed. I could appreciate it all the more, because the author decided to show these momentous events through the eyes of a decidedly “downstairs” character – a highly skilled slave, but a slave nonetheless.

As we all know, history doesn’t tend to leave us many details about the daily life of people like Thrasius; those few bits of information that exist are hard to fish out – the further we go back in history, the harder it becomes. So, I really applaud Crystal King for this effort.

Among other things, she managed to capture perfectly this feeling of an ordinary person caught up in the struggles of the powerful; the human emotions and small, personal ambitions history so often forgets, the mix of helplessness and hope.

If you are looking for dark, brilliant and carefully researched historical novel, look no further than the Feast of Sorrow. You can find it on the Amazon here.

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