Elodie Harper has ripped my heart out and beaten it mercilessly. Her second installment of the Wolf Den Trilogy, The House with the Golden Door left me tearily explaining the plot of both books (spoilers included) at midnight to my very patient spouse. After my period of grief, I am now ready to reflect upon this sequel! Continue reading to get my thoughts on Harper’s continuation of the Wolf Den Trilogy.
The life of a courtesan in Pompeii is glittering, yet precarious…
Amara has escaped her life as a slave in the town’s most notorious brothel, but now her existence depends on the affections of her patron: a man she might not know as well as she once thought.
At night she dreams of the wolf den, still haunted by her past. Amara longs for the women she was forced to leave behind and worse, finds herself pursued by the man who once owned her. In order to be free, she will need to be as ruthless as he is.
Amara knows her existence in Pompeii is subject to Venus, the goddess of love. Yet finding love may prove to be the most dangerous act of all.
We return to Pompeii for the second instalment in Elodie Harper’s Wolf Den Trilogy, set in the town’s lupanar and reimagining the lives of women long overlooked.
(Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)
If you read some of my reviews, you may know I have a degree in Classics. I have to give major props to Harper for her creation of this story in the backdrop of a prominent city where there is quite a lot of archaeological information available. I feel like this leaves authors open to critics who are really worried about historical accuracy. Harper does a great job of keeping this authentic to what life in Pompeii would be. Hint: it’s not glamorous.
You know when people are like “Ohh! When and where would you like to go back in time?” As a Classics person, people always expected me to say Ancient Rome or Greece. “No.” I say “No thanks. Present times are difficult enough as it is.” And this series… This is why. Does an amazing job of capturing the rawness and brutality of life in the ancient Roman empire. Many may wish to think of the Ancient Roman world as luxurious among the wealthy elite and that is not what Harper reveals. Instead, we learn firsthand the trauma, brutality, and sorrow that accompanies life as an enslaved person or freeperson as well as women in Pompeii and the ancient world more broadly.
Plot and Characters
The House with the Golden Door‘s plot is a continuation of the Wolf Den and continues Amara’s journey and transition into a freed courtesan. Unfortunately throughout the series, it is clear that based on these characters’ positions and status, this is a cutthroat world. As a reader, one can see the many sides and justifications for some characters’ actions allowing you to humanize most (but certainly not all) of the actions that people make. But it still makes some of the decisions so heartbreaking. Harper’s characters feel so real because they are so incredibly complicated and motivated by the need to survive but also the temptations of friendship, trust, and love.
The House with the Golden Door hit me super hard. It truly took me several days to decompress and reflect upon what happened and what this might mean for the conclusion of the trilogy. Perhaps I have been dramatic in my reading of this, but I’m telling you folks, I’ve not felt impacted in such as way since reading Pachinko by Lee Min-jin.
Don’t forget: Literally looming in the background? Mount Vesuvius. What does it do a couple of years after this book is set? It erupts. How will this impact all of these characters that I’ve become so invested in? WHEN WILL THE LAST BOOK BE PUBLISHED? I must have it.
Find The House with the Golden Door on Goodreads, Amazon, Indiebound, Bookshop.org & The Book Depository