Monday, October 2, 2017

Book Review and GIVEAWAY: Feast of Sorrow, by Crystal King {ends 10/10}

Guest review by: Karen Doerr

“You are wondering why I’m chopping vegetables with you.” It wasn’t a question.

“The thought had crossed my mind, Dominus.”

He pushed the chopped carrot to the side and took up the parsnips. “When I am in the kitchen, making food, it is as though the gods are with me.”

“What do you mean, Dominus?” I was not accustomed to asking my master questions, but Apicius seemed to be inviting conversation.

“I feel a sense of calmness, of true competence, infusing me. The same energy fills me when I am chopping and stirring, or when I discover a new wine vintage. Such culinary experiences bring me great pleasure.”


As a foodie and history buff, I was excited to start Feast of Sorrow by Crystal King. I thought that it would combine my two greatest loves into a story of political ambition with a hint of tragedy. What I got instead was an overly long, complicated and quite frankly, dull story. Such a shame for a concept that had amazing potential!

Official synopsis:
Book Review and GIVEAWAY: Feast of Sorrow, by Crystal King
Set amongst the scandal, wealth, and upstairs-downstairs politics of a Roman family, Crystal King’s seminal debut features the man who inspired the world’s oldest cookbook and the ambition that led to his destruction.

On a blistering day in the twenty-sixth year of Augustus Caesar’s reign, a young chef, Thrasius, is acquired for the exorbitant price of twenty thousand denarii. His purchaser is the infamous gourmet Marcus Gavius Apicius, wealthy beyond measure, obsessed with a taste for fine meals from exotic places, and a singular ambition: to serve as culinary advisor to Caesar, an honor that will cement his legacy as Rome's leading epicure.

Apicius rightfully believes that Thrasius is the key to his culinary success, and with Thrasius’s help he soon becomes known for his lavish parties and fantastic meals. Thrasius finds a family in Apicius’s household, his daughter Apicata, his wife Aelia, and her handmaiden, Passia, with whom Thrasius quickly falls in love. But as Apicius draws closer to his ultimate goal, his reckless disregard for any who might get in his way takes a dangerous turn that threatens his young family and places his entire household at the mercy of the most powerful forces in Rome.


As strange as it sounds, I’ve had a keen interest in the dietary habits of Ancient Rome for quite a while. I have to believe that when your god of wine doubles as the god of ritual madness, you know how to have a good time. I admired Lucilius’ mentality and have occasionally referred to solitary meals as dining with myself. It saddens me that Rome has turned away from dormice and garum, as much as I do love modern Italian cuisine. I was hoping that this novel would expound on my knowledge. While the author had clearly done her research on the topic, I think her factoids would be better appreciated by someone with a little less background on the topic.

We discover at the end of the story that one of the main characters was a true historical figure. I think it would have been better to present this at the beginning to give some perspective. It at least would have explained the title. The over-arching story depends on the reader becoming emotionally invested in the main characters. This took much longer to build than I would have thought as so many characters are initially presented. It doesn’t help that the naming traditions leave many key figures with similar sounding names. One also needs to keep in mind that one character may be called many different things depending on who is speaking. It took me a while to sort it all out. It would have been helpful to have a character guide of some sort.

My biggest complaint about the book was how quickly conflict seemed to be resolved. The author would present something that left me wondering how it would be handled, only to have it wrapped up in a neat package two paragraphs later. I doubt that I would have finished the book if I had just picked it up from the library.

2 stars out of 5.
{Click here to purchase}


Karen K. Doerr is a self-proclaimed glutton with a habit of watching food documentaries while eating take out. She can usually be heard complaining that her jeans shrunk in the wash. 

GIVEAWAY:

Enter via the widget below to win a hardcover copy of Feast of Sorrow.

Giveaway will end on Tuesday, October 10th, at 11:59pm EST, and winner will be notified the next day via email, and have 24 hours to respond, or an alternate winner will be chosen.

U.S. residents only, please.

Good luck!

Feast of Sorrow hardcover book

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