The secret beginnings of Cleopatra's epic saga, seen through the eyes of her forgotten sisters.
Arsinoe, the bright and incisive eight-year-old daughter of King Ptolemy, awakes one morning from an ominous dream of statues weeping blood to find that her reality is even worse. There's been a violent coup, and she is stranded alone in the palace, abandoned by both her beloved older sister Cleopatra and her indifferent father. The new monarch? Arsinoe's half sister Berenice, who has seized the throne and now rules over a bloodthirsty royal court.
Arsinoe's struggle to establish herself in this strange new world takes her from the palace to the streets of war-torn Alexandria, where she must cast off her childhood comforts, including her idolization of Cleopatra. Meanwhile, Berenice confronts her own demons--her cruel, dying mother, a pair of fickle husbands, and the ever-present threat of her father's return from exile--as she fights to maintain power as the first queen to rule Egypt alone in a thousand years. When their deposed father, Ptolemy, marches on the city with a Roman army, both daughters must decide where their allegiances truly lie, and Arsinoe grapples with the difficult truth--that the only way to survive her dynasty is to rule it.
A bold and mesmerizing debut, CLEOPATRA'S SHADOWS is a thrilling depiction of a treacherous Egyptian dynasty and an ancient world made new.
Long-listed for HWA Crown for Debut Historical Fiction 2016.
Emily Holleman became fascinated with Cleopatra's younger sister Arsinoe on a 2011 trip to Egypt and has been researching and writing about the Ptolemies ever since. A graduate of Yale University, Holleman spent several years as an editor for Salon.com-a job she left to follow Arsinoe and her quest for the throne of Alexandria. She lives and works in Brooklyn and is, unsurprisingly, also a younger sister.