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Book Review: The Daughter of the God King by Anne Cleeland (4/5)

17 Dec

I’ve decided to put my rating in the title so you can decide if you want to read on and see if the book is worth your time. Thoughts? Also, I’m only one book away from meeting my goal of 70 books for the year! Hopefully I’ll be done by the end of the week and I can dedicate some time to the 900 page Harry Potter in Spanish I’ve been neglecting

I received this book as a part of the Goodreads First Reads program. This has had no influence over my review of the book.

Image from the blog link in the description.

Image from the blog link in the description.

The Daughter of the God King by Anne Cleeland

I love historical fiction. Even more, I love historical fiction about places and times I know little to nothing about. When I saw a book about Regency period Egypt, I was all over it. Add in a mystery, which is something I’m always excited about, and I was pumped.

Hattie Blackhouse is the daughter of two famous Egyptologists but the fame annoys her more than anything. Hattie’s parents are always gone and once she turns 18, she’s determined to make her how way. Determined to marry her longtime friend, Robbie, she leaves for Paris to find him already engaged. Craving adventure, she sets off for Egypt to try and find her parents, who have gone missing. Hattie realizes her parents were involved in an intricate plot to bring Napoleon back to power and has an even deeper realization that the Blackhouses are not her parents at all, but a couple that was bribed to raise her to conceal her true identity as Napoleon’s bastard child. Along the way to the end, Hattie falls in love, gets married, and parading as the Daughter of the God King, helps cripple Napoleon’s plans.

What I remember most about the book is the character of Berry. He is Hattie’s main love interest and eventual husband. His secret allegiance keeps the reader and Hattie guessing till the end and even beyond. I am still a little bit confused what exactly Berry’s allegiance is to and why so many different characters thought he was aligned with them. My favorite character was Hattie’s escort, Bing. I kept hoping Bing would play a bigger role in the book because I found her so interesting, but she stayed the unwavering support Hattie needed without playing a big role herself.

I’m trying to think what an overlying message of the story would be. I think the best answer is You make your own future. Hattie went from orphan to bastard very quickly and thought her life was over. She’d convinced herself she could be nothing better than a mistress and ended up a countess. She wasn’t held back by who she was by birth and used her personality and position to make herself into who she wanted to be.

Napoleon’s attempt to regain power was a major plot point at the end of the book. One of the questions Hattie asks (which I think is well deserving of an answer) is who would support a despot that was so universally disliked that he was sentenced to a prison sentence on an island? The answer is the right people. I think this says a lot about modern politics as well; if the right people like a person, they can maintain power. This was probably more true when the military was more actively involved in the government, such as Napoleon’s reign over Europe, but can still ring true today.

There were some parts of the book that confused me. I think the small hits the characters were dropping were very obvious to the writer, but didn’t come as strongly across to the reader. I didn’t catch that Hattie was Napoleon’s daughter until I’d read the paragraph three times. I was confused for a long time with concern to the back and forth about Hattie’s parents’ fate. Were they dead or hiding? I wasn’t sure until Hattie went to the graveyard and even then, I still thought they would come out of the woodwork.

Writer’s Takeaways: This book had a very fast moving and engaging plot. There were a lot of layers to it, but each character stood out in his or her own way so that they weren’t confused. I think Cleeland did a good job of pacing her big reveal moments throughout the book. They came toward the end and weren’t too close together. I liked the mixture of mystery, some adventure, and romance (though it felt a little forced at times).

4 out of 5 stars, overall solid read.