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Reviewed by Heather Osborne for Readers' Favorite
In The Emperor’s Assassin by Autumn Bardot, Locusta of Gaul had greater plans for herself than those placed in the path by the Faiths. The daughter of a vintner, she will marry a man chosen by her father and aunt. However, after a brutal attack by her fiancé, Locusta’s maidservant, Priscilla, decides to help Locusta take her fate into her own hands and begins her education in the helpful and deadly world of herbal remedies. She then finds herself in Rome, sent by her family to seemingly plead for a tax extension, but really to find a suitable husband. However, word of her skill travels fast, and Locusta finds herself embroiled in plots beyond her wildest imagination. Will she survive the politics of Rome, or will she find herself doomed by her own knowledge?
As a hardcore historical fiction fan, I found The Emperor’s Assassin by Autumn Bardot an absolutely enrapturing read. Locusta of Gaul did exist in Roman times, and Bardot has taken great care and research to weave together a believable story about a woman who is a victim of circumstance and gender. The characters were engaging and I found myself immediately drawn into Roman life. The atmosphere was immersive, and I could really see what Locusta saw and feel what she experienced. Bardot doesn’t shy from describing the realities of life in Rome as a woman, and I didn’t once feel taken out of the story by any implausible event. I will actively be seeking out other novels by Autumn Bardot, and I highly recommend this novel to anyone interested in little-explored historical figures of the Roman Empire.