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Reviewed by Christian Sia for Readers' Favorite
Selene of Alexandria by Faith L. Justice is a compelling historical novel that vividly captures the cultural spirit of the time in which the story takes place. It follows Selene, a young Christian woman of the ruling class, who pursues her dream of becoming a physician, something uncommon for a woman of her social status. She has the support of Orestes, the Augustal Prefect (governor) of Egypt, and Hypatia, Lady Philosopher, astronomer, and mathematician. But she faces more challenges and obstacles than the support she receives from prominent people, and one of the characters that stand staunchly against her goals is a Bishop, who is more enamored of power than of God. Can she control her temper and navigate the treacherous and uphill path to achieving her goal?
Faith L. Justice brings to life A.D. 412, Alexandria, and offers a stunning portrait of the religious, social, and political dynamics of the time. The writing is fluid and enjoyable, filled with vivid descriptions and well-crafted dialogues. The novel features an impressive cast of elaborately developed characters and conflict. The historical hints are strong and the reader is left in no doubt that this cleverly plotted and skillfully delivered tale is well-researched. I particularly enjoyed how the author captures the Catholic tradition as reflected in this era, exploring the intrigue and the quest for power that went hand-in-hand with religious roles. Selene of Alexandria is a remarkable tour de force that shines a spotlight on what characterized a historical period while exploring the challenges faced by an ambitious woman to achieve her dream. It is an unforgettable story with strong themes of love, ambition, and political intrigue — and the characters will surely stay with readers for long.