Gerry B's Book Reviews

A Day of Fire: a novel of Pompeii by Stephanie Dray

A remarkably clever and well-crafted idea.



Click on the cover to purchase.

Click on the cover to purchase.

Pompeii was a lively resort flourishing in the shadow of Mount Vesuvius at the height of the Roman Empire. When Vesuvius erupted in an explosion of flame and ash, the entire town would be destroyed. Some of its citizens died in the chaos, some escaped the mountain’s wrath . . . and these are their stories:

A boy loses his innocence in Pompeii’s flourishing streets.
An heiress dreads her wedding day, not knowing it will be swallowed by fire.
An ex-legionary stakes his entire future on a gladiator bout destined never to be finished.
A crippled senator welcomes death, until a tomboy on horseback comes to his rescue.
A young mother faces an impossible choice for her unborn child as the ash falls.
A priestess and a whore seek redemption and resurrection as the town is buried.

Six authors bring to life overlapping stories of patricians and slaves, warriors and politicians, villains and heroes who cross each others’ path during Pompeii’s fiery end. But who will escape, and who will be buried for eternity?

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Review by Gerry Burnie

I have always been fascinated with Pompeii. I mean, to have a whole city and its populace frozen in time, to be discovered two thousand years later, is intriguing stuff! Likewise, to speculate on the lives of some of its citizens just before Vesuvius sealed their fates forever is equally tantalizing.

 A Day of Fire: a novel of Pompeii an anthology by Stephanie Dray [Knight Media, LLC, November 4, 2014] sets out to do just that. Six historical fiction authors, with unique but similar styles, collaborate to create the lives of six fairly representative citizens as they approach the fateful day.

The story’s synopsis is laid out in the blurb, but going beyond that it is an admirable idea that was waiting to happen – combining fiction and fact surrounding 78 A.D. In addition, the six Pompeiian characters couldn’t be more different or more interesting – Rich, poor, young and old.

What I found gratifying was that, although the stories were individually authored there was a consistency about them – a thread that connected them together while on their way to calamity. It was such that the reader knew what was about to happen while the characters didn’t, and so it was all the more credible.

A very clever and well-crafted story in six parts. Five bees.


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Interested in Canadian history?

Want to learn more? Then visit my new page:  In Praise of Canadian History.  It is a collection of people, facts and events in Canadian history, and includes a bibliography of interesting Canadian books as well. Latest post: “Camp X” – the unofficial name of a Second World War paramilitary and commando training installation, on the northwestern shore of Lake Ontario between Whitby and Oshawa in Ontario, Canada. 

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February 2, 2015 - Posted by | Historical Fiction, Non-gay fiction

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