Book Review: Vestal Virgin March 23, 2011Posted by Jaidis in 4 Tree Reviews, Book Reviews, Jaidis Shaw Reviews.
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Elissa Rubria Honoria is a Vestal Virgin–priestess of the sacred flame, a visionary, and one of the most powerful women in Rome. Vestals are sacrosanct, sworn to chastity on penalty of death, but the emperor, Nero, holds himself above the law. He pursues Elissa, engaging her in a deadly game of wits and sexuality. Or is Elissa really the pursuer? She stumbles on dark secrets. No longer trusting Roman gods, she follows a new god, Jesus of Nazareth, jeopardizing her life and the future of The Roman Empire.
Vestal Virgin by Suzanne Tyrpak was nothing like I thought it would be. It was better! Normally I try to stay away from books set in ancient Rome because they always seem to irritate me, often telling the exact same story and are almost always predictable. Ms. Tyrpak wastes no time jumping into the action and setting up the story that will keep you hooked until you finish. I kept waiting for a spot where I could leave off for the night and return to it later but that spot never arrived. I read it straight through. We meet Elissa, who happens to be a Vestal Virgin. Vestal Virgins are normally picked as young girls, often only nine years old, and are forced into the temple where they take a vow to remain a virgin for 30 years so that they may better serve the Gods. Being a Vestal Virgin means that a woman is allowed to do things that aren’t normally allowed of woman in ancient Rome such as owning land and controlling her own money. Everyone thinks being selected is an honor but what it also means is that a Vestal Virgin is destined to live a loveless life as they are nearly 40 years old when finally released from their vows. Many stay at the temple as they have no place to go and don’t want to be alone for their remaining years. Meanwhile, Nero sits upon the Roman throne and holds himself above all others, claiming that he is a God and can do as he pleases. After having Elissa’s brother named a traitor and killed for treason, Elissa makes it her goal to see to it that Nero is punished. She begins to question her faith in her Gods after her brother is murdered, her sister’s innocence is taken, and friends turn into spies. Vestal Virgin is written with strong religious themes, which I normally try to stay away from while reviewing books because religion is such a delicate topic with people today. I personally believe that if the religious theme had been down played just a bit, it would make for a better story and possibly appeal to those who do not have strong religious beliefs. Even with that being said, Vestal Virgin was wonderfully written, suspenseful and intriguing. There are strong adult themes throughout the book and although they are not extremely descriptive, they should only be read by mature adult audiences.