Book Review: LUCIA: A Roman Slave’s Tale by Steven A. McKay

Genre: Historical fiction
Publisher: Broadsword Publishing
Pub date: 23 October 2020
Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

What makes life worth living for a slave of Rome? The promise of vengeance, no matter how long it takes!
At eight years old, Lucia is torn from the life she knew. Her village burned to the ground and parents murdered by Romans, she is kidnapped, sold and shipped abroad to the Villa Tempestatis in Britannia to serve the young Roman army officer Castus.
Faced with a bleak future of decades of servitude to her master, as well as sadistic brutality at the hands of his manageress, Paltucca, she finds herself fixated by one thought alone: vengeance.
Yet Villa Tempestatis, with its picturesque surroundings in Britannia’s green countryside, offers a life that’s a little easier than elsewhere in the Roman empire. The slaves form strong bonds of love and friendship, enjoy feasts and holiday celebrations together, and are even allowed, sometimes, to start a family. Many of them are happy enough with their lot.
Despite that, every moment of Lucia’s life is blighted by her hatred for Castus and Paltucca, and only seeing them both destroyed will bring her a measure of peace, even if it takes decades of work and planning…
This standalone novel from the bestselling author of The Druid tells the tale of one woman’s life against a richly woven backdrop of love and hate, revenge and redemption, and is quite unique in modern fiction.

I hadn’t read anything by Steven McKay but having heard of this book I decided to give it a try and I’m so glad I did. This is quite a dark story and does feature murder, rape and violence so it won’t be for everyone but it’s such an emotional book. I was drawn in from the very first chapter with Lucia being torn away from her home at such a young age.

McKay transports us back to the dreadful conditions of those sold in to slavery. Whilst compared to others Lucia appears to have a master who treats their slaves better but Lucia’s story and those around her is heartbreaking. Castus, the master was difficult to fathom, I couldn’t decide if I liked him or not, there are moments where I thought he was pure evil but others where I thought he was trying to improve himself.

The characters are wonderful and McKay does an excellent job of developing them so you feel like you actually know them. Personally I loved Senni,  Rogatus and Regalis, all slaves working with Lucia at Villa Tempestatis. Each one has their own reasons to keep going and all have a different outlook on life as a slave which is one of the reasons I enjoyed this so much as I got to know each character more.

Paltucca the manageress is that character you love to hate. Although she is a slave herself her actions towards the others is abominable. It’s not just those within the villa that Lucia has to worry about tho, danger appears from almost everywhere.

Throughout the whole book I was hoping Lucia would get her chance to return home and whilst I won’t spoil the ending there’s a great twist which totally surprised me.

I won’t say more as I’d hope those reading this will give the book a read and I wouldn’t want to give anything away.
This is very much a page turner and difficult to put down, I found myself saying just one more chapter and before I knew it I was at the end.

An incredibly moving story that’s written extremely well. I highly recommend this book to those interested in the lives of the slaves but as mentioned there are some really difficult moments.

If you’d like to read LUCIA it’s available now as an ebook, paperback or audio and is currently included in KindleUnlimited

I’d love to hear what others think.

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