Book Review: Daughter of the Gods by Stephanie Thornton

Cover of Daughter of the Gods
as seen on Goodreads (source)
Last month, I counted down the days until the release of Daughter of the Gods by Stephanie Thornton. It's about Hatshepsut, who defied centuries of convention to become female pharaoh of Egypt, despite the existence of a legitimate male heir. I'm surprised there aren't more novels about her, so I was glad to get my hands on this one.

Hatshepsut is Pharaoh's youngest daughter. Unlike her demure older sister, she is active and adventurous. A sudden trauma turns her life upside down, and she finds herself trapped in a loveless marriage full of responsibilities but few rewards. Soon even the responsibilities are taken away, and she becomes a virtual prisoner within the women's palace. How will she ever fulfill her secret desire to lead Egypt?

The story is fast-paced and stuffed with all kinds of fun elements like tragic deaths, difficult romances, court intrigue, and murder. You want Hatshepsut to succeed at her seemingly impossible dream to rule the country. I was so invested in her ambitions and romances that I devoured Daughter of the Gods in a few days. My husband mentioned that it must be a good book because I was so engrossed. I particularly enjoyed the epilogue, which is a sensitive take on what led Thutmose III to destroy his stepmother's monuments, and how he might have felt about eradicating all traces of the pharaoh who raised him.

The characters have modern speech patterns and ways of behaving. Generally I prefer my historicals to be more formal, but this was such a fun novel that I didn't mind as much as I usually do. I struggled with the plot twist at the end when the antagonist is revealed. I had no problem with the antagonist's identity--indeed, I suspected a few chapters ahead who it might be. I just had a hard time with some of this person's past actions that are revealed in the climax. These previous villainies seemed irrelevant to the character's primary motives and actions that led to the climax.

Overall, though, I really enjoyed this book. I would recommend it to my friends and will definitely read it again. Sensitive readers should know that Hatshepsut enters into an incestuous marriage with her half-brother. This is historically and culturally accurate, and the few intimate scenes between them are less explicit than your average romance novel. There are also several battle scenes along with all the horrific wounds that you would expect to receive on a Bronze Age battlefield, and they are described fairly graphically (glistening lavender intestines, anyone?). I loved that Thornton didn't shy away from these gruesome realities, but again sensitive readers should brace themselves. This novel reminded me of Kate Quinn's ancient Rome novels, so if you love Quinn's books, Hatshepsut, or ancient Egypt, this might be the book for you!

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