Two tiger cubs brought to Rome – one is destined for the arena; the other is defanged, booted and becomes a much loved pet for the Emperor’s daughter Aurelia who is twelve. She begins to fall for the tiger’s handler Julius, to her cousin Marcus’ dismay. When a prank played on Julius goes wrong, the consequences are severe as they both learn to their cost.
This novel will delight and dismay in equal quantities. Delight at the antics of Aurelia and her pampered pet, and dismay at the bloodthirst in the arena. The author doesn’t shy from showing the reader the gory nature of the Roman games which utterly revolt the Emperor’s daughter who has to grow up fast.
We also learn a lot about cats – sections of the book are written from the tigers’ points of view. They’re not so unlike our felines, just bigger scale and harder to domesticate! Luckily for younger readers, the tigers are reunited in the end. I preferred this to the Roman Mysteries by Caroline Lawrence, and would thoroughly recommend for 6-9yr olds. 8/10