Review | The House with the Golden Door by Elodie Harper (Wolf Den Trilogy 2)

A solid middle installment in this historical fiction trilogy. 4/5 stars.

The House with the Golden Door_ Wolf Den 2_ by Elodie Harper book cover

I received an e-copy of this book from the publisher (Head of Zeus) via NetGalley in return of an honest review.

The blurb:

The life of a courtesan in Pompeii is glittering, yet precarious…

Amara has escaped her life as a slave in the town’s most notorious brothel, but now her existence depends on the affections of her patron: a man she might not know as well as she once thought.

At night she dreams of the wolf den, still haunted by her past. Amara longs for the women she was forced to leave behind and worse, finds herself pursued by the man who once owned her. In order to be free, she will need to be as ruthless as he is.

Amara knows her existence in Pompeii is subject to Venus, the goddess of love. Yet finding love may prove to be the most dangerous act of all.

We return to Pompeii for the second instalment in Elodie Harper’s Wolf Den Trilogy, set in the town’s lupanar and reimagining the lives of women long overlooked.

My take:

I read The Wolf Den last year (thank you to my local library). At that point I didn’t know it was the first in a trilogy, but I should have guessed. I mean, when a book opens with ‘Pompeii AD 74’ you have to assume we’ll be hanging around until the city’s final days in AD 79 and fitting five years into one book would have been tricky.

I didn’t find this second installment quite as absorbing as The Wolf Den, mostly because some of Amara’s choices caused me to roll my eyes! Also it’s difficult to say I ‘enjoyed’ this book because the characters (especially the women) spend most of their time dodging one life-threatening hazard after another. Consequently reading this story can be stressful, like watching people you care about walk a tightrope between the tops of two skyscrapers.

However, if you’re looking for historical details to enjoy, you won’t be disappointed. The evocation of Pompeii, daily Roman life and the special festivals in the calendar is as impressively done as in the first book.

Again as with Book 1, I felt a lot was crammed into the last few chapters of this story. That said, it has certainly set things up to be interesting in book 3.

And it was a brilliant surprise to find that Britannia was given much more to do in this book and has become my new favourite character! I would read the third book in the series just to find out what happens to her and I really hope she goes on to get the blood and glory she’s looking for.

Overall: I continue to recommend this series to fans of historical fiction. However, at this point you might want to wait until Book 3 is published so you can read the books back to back and not have to wait to find out what happens next.

Claire Huston / Art and Soul

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