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Stephanie Dray

Stephanie DrayStephanie graduated with a degree in Government from Smith, a small women’s college in Massachusetts where-to the consternation of her devoted professors-she was unable to master Latin. However, her focus on Middle Eastern Studies gave her a deeper understanding of the consequences of Egypt’s ancient clash with Rome, both in terms of the still-extant tensions between East and West as well as the worldwide decline of female-oriented religion. Before she wrote novels, Stephanie was a lawyer, a game designer, and a teacher. Now she uses the transformative power of magic realism to illuminate the stories of women in history and inspire the young women of today. She remains fascinated by all things Roman or Egyptian and has-to the consternation of her devoted husband-collected a house full of cats and ancient artifacts.

Lily of the Nile: Couldn’t put it down

Lily of the Nile  by Stephanie Dray

After the defeat and death of Cleopatra, her three youngest children were taken to Rome and paraded as spoils of war, then adopted into the household of the victorious emperor, Octavian. Of the three, the one who went on to make a mark on history was Cleopatra’s daughter, Cleopatra Selene. In Lily of the Nile, Stephanie Dray tells the story of Selene’s coming of age in Rome, with a magical element added.

Selene is a fully-rounded character. We feel for her as she experiences her sudden fall from princess to pawn, and struggles to acclimate to her new life. She’s constantly striving to keep herself and her brothers alive in an environment where many would happily see them all dead. We sympathize with her as she goes through a dark night of the soul and loses her faith, and we cheer her as she matches wits with Octavian. At the same time, she has f... Read More

Song of the Nile: Addictive historical fantasy

Song of the Nile by Stephanie Dray

The sequel to Lily of the Nile, Song of the Nile by Stephanie Dray continues the story of Cleopatra Selene, daughter of the more famous Cleopatra. In this installment, Selene marries, becomes queen of Mauretania, and continually longs and schemes for the return of her birthright: the throne of Egypt.

Song of the Nile begins with a prologue that refers to the myth of Persephone’s descent, and so we know from the start that this book will take Selene into some painful emotional territory. There are two elements here that may trouble some readers, so I’ll get those out of the way while also saying that, in my opinion, they are handled well and are not gratuitous.

The first of these is a rape. It’s strongly foreshadowed before it happens, and it’s completely in character for the perpe... Read More

Daughters of the Nile: Poignant and beautiful

Daughters of the Nile by Stephanie Dray

Daughters of the Nile concludes Stephanie Dray’s trilogy about Selene, the daughter of Cleopatra, who survived the fall of her mother’s kingdom and went on to become a queen herself. I’ve never been quite sure how to categorize this series — is it fantasy? is it historical fiction with magic realism? — but I’ve certainly been enjoying it.

In Lily of the Nile, we saw Selene as a young girl coming of age; in Song of the Nile we saw her dealing with the issues of young womanhood in addition to the precarious political situation in which she lived. In this third volume, we follow Selene as a mature married ruler with children. She and her husband, King Juba, have taken tentative steps toward making their marriage a true partnership as well as a political alliance, but the relationship has been poisoned with old hurts and mistrust for a long time, and each of them thin... Read More