Nonetheless, aficionados of all things SPQR will eat this up.

The life story of a notorious ancient Roman gourmand, recounted by his slave, a master chef.

Wealthy patrician Apicius was famous for his profligacy and for a palate so exacting that when he was down to what his contemporaries considered a small fortune, he committed suicide because he could no longer afford the best ingredients. In her addictively readable first novel, King expands on the mostly apocryphal stories about Apicius, complete with lavish detail about Roman cuisine. In the year 1 B.C.E., at a slave market, Apicius pays a king’s ransom for Thrasius, an excellent coquus (cook) who can prepare the luxurious spreads Apicius’ banquets are known for. Thrasius soon becomes indispensable to Apicius’ household, which includes loyal Egyptian bodyguard Sotas, wife Aelia, daughter Apicata, and Apicata’s slave, Passia, with whom Thrasius falls in love. Over the next 30 years, the fates of Apicius and his family are caught up in the momentous events of the reign of Augustus Caesar and his successor, Tiberius. Personages who will be familiar to followers of the I, Claudius books by Robert Graves, and the BBC series they inspired, are all here, including Livia, who threatens to purchase Thrasius for the emperor’s kitchens, forcing Apicius to manumit and then hire the chef. Thrasius and Apicius become partners in a cooking school and write a cookbook together. On Cookery, a codex attributed to Apicius, does exist—recipes from it appear throughout the book, featuring exotic ingredients like liquamen, a fish sauce, and silphium, a wild herb so delicious it was apparently rendered extinct by ancient foodie foragers. Livia adds Apicius to her grudge list, with typically dire consequences. However, the villain in chief here is ambitious ruffian Sejanus, Rome’s de facto dictator, who wreaks havoc on Apicius’ world through blackmail and a forcible marriage to Apicata. Unfortunately, though the food lore is fascinating and the time period is inherently dramatic, the characters are so thinly drawn that the reader will care little for their fates, however grim.

Nonetheless, aficionados of all things SPQR will eat this up.

Pub Date: April 25, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-5011-4513-1

Page Count: 416

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: Feb. 4, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2017


Dark and unsettling, this novel’s end arrives abruptly even as readers are still moving at a breakneck speed.

Ten years after her teenage daughter went missing, a mother begins a new relationship only to discover she can't truly move on until she answers lingering questions about the past.

Laurel Mack’s life stopped in many ways the day her 15-year-old daughter, Ellie, left the house to study at the library and never returned. She drifted away from her other two children, Hanna and Jake, and eventually she and her husband, Paul, divorced. Ten years later, Ellie’s remains and her backpack are found, though the police are unable to determine the reasons for her disappearance and death. After Ellie’s funeral, Laurel begins a relationship with Floyd, a man she meets in a cafe. She's disarmed by Floyd’s charm, but when she meets his young daughter, Poppy, Laurel is startled by her resemblance to Ellie. As the novel progresses, Laurel becomes increasingly determined to learn what happened to Ellie, especially after discovering an odd connection between Poppy’s mother and her daughter even as her relationship with Floyd is becoming more serious. Jewell’s (I Found You, 2017, etc.) latest thriller moves at a brisk pace even as she plays with narrative structure: The book is split into three sections, including a first one which alternates chapters between the time of Ellie’s disappearance and the present and a second section that begins as Laurel and Floyd meet. Both of these sections primarily focus on Laurel. In the third section, Jewell alternates narrators and moments in time: The narrator switches to alternating first-person points of view (told by Poppy’s mother and Floyd) interspersed with third-person narration of Ellie’s experiences and Laurel’s discoveries in the present. All of these devices serve to build palpable tension, but the structure also contributes to how deeply disturbing the story becomes. At times, the characters and the emotional core of the events are almost obscured by such quick maneuvering through the weighty plot.

Dark and unsettling, this novel’s end arrives abruptly even as readers are still moving at a breakneck speed.

Pub Date: April 24, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5011-5464-5

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: Feb. 5, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2018


With frank language and patient plotting, this gangly teen crush grows into a confident adult love affair.

Eleven years ago, he broke her heart. But he doesn’t know why she never forgave him.

Toggling between past and present, two love stories unfold simultaneously. In the first, Macy Sorensen meets and falls in love with the boy next door, Elliot Petropoulos, in the closet of her dad’s vacation home, where they hide out to discuss their favorite books. In the second, Macy is working as a doctor and engaged to a single father, and she hasn’t spoken to Elliot since their breakup. But a chance encounter forces her to confront the truth: what happened to make Macy stop speaking to Elliot? Ultimately, they’re separated not by time or physical remoteness but by emotional distance—Elliot and Macy always kept their relationship casual because they went to different schools. And as a teen, Macy has more to worry about than which girl Elliot is taking to the prom. After losing her mother at a young age, Macy is navigating her teenage years without a female role model, relying on the time-stamped notes her mother left in her father’s care for guidance. In the present day, Macy’s father is dead as well. She throws herself into her work and rarely comes up for air, not even to plan her upcoming wedding. Since Macy is still living with her fiance while grappling with her feelings for Elliot, the flashbacks offer steamy moments, tender revelations, and sweetly awkward confessions while Macy makes peace with her past and decides her future.

With frank language and patient plotting, this gangly teen crush grows into a confident adult love affair.

Pub Date: April 10, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5011-2801-1

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Jan. 22, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2018

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