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The Wolf Den

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Sold by her mother. Enslaved in Pompeii's brothel. Determined to survive. Her name is Amara. Welcome to the Wolf Den... Amara was once a beloved daughter, until her father's death plunged her family into penury. Now she is a slave in Pompeii's infamous brothel, owned by a man she despises. Sharp, clever and resourceful, Amara is forced to hide her talents. For as a she-wolf Sold by her mother. Enslaved in Pompeii's brothel. Determined to survive. Her name is Amara. Welcome to the Wolf Den... Amara was once a beloved daughter, until her father's death plunged her family into penury. Now she is a slave in Pompeii's infamous brothel, owned by a man she despises. Sharp, clever and resourceful, Amara is forced to hide her talents. For as a she-wolf, her only value lies in the desire she can stir in others. But Amara's spirit is far from broken. By day, she walks the streets with her fellow she-wolves, finding comfort in the laughter and dreams they share. For the streets of Pompeii are alive with opportunity. Out here, even the lowest slave can secure a reversal in fortune. Amara has learnt that everything in this city has its price. But how much is her freedom going to cost her? Set in Pompeii's lupanar, The Wolf Den reimagines the lives of women who have long been overlooked.


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Sold by her mother. Enslaved in Pompeii's brothel. Determined to survive. Her name is Amara. Welcome to the Wolf Den... Amara was once a beloved daughter, until her father's death plunged her family into penury. Now she is a slave in Pompeii's infamous brothel, owned by a man she despises. Sharp, clever and resourceful, Amara is forced to hide her talents. For as a she-wolf Sold by her mother. Enslaved in Pompeii's brothel. Determined to survive. Her name is Amara. Welcome to the Wolf Den... Amara was once a beloved daughter, until her father's death plunged her family into penury. Now she is a slave in Pompeii's infamous brothel, owned by a man she despises. Sharp, clever and resourceful, Amara is forced to hide her talents. For as a she-wolf, her only value lies in the desire she can stir in others. But Amara's spirit is far from broken. By day, she walks the streets with her fellow she-wolves, finding comfort in the laughter and dreams they share. For the streets of Pompeii are alive with opportunity. Out here, even the lowest slave can secure a reversal in fortune. Amara has learnt that everything in this city has its price. But how much is her freedom going to cost her? Set in Pompeii's lupanar, The Wolf Den reimagines the lives of women who have long been overlooked.

30 review for The Wolf Den

  1. 5 out of 5

    jessica

    the best thing this book has going for it is its candidness. this does not shy away from the blunt, violent, explicit living conditions of a brothel slave. i think it would have done a disservice to the story and characters had it been sugarcoated. but in the midst of that brutal honesty, this is also a story about friendship and sisterhood, rising after hardships, the value of humanity and self-worth, and the price of freedom. amara is definitely a character worth rooting for. the thing that bo the best thing this book has going for it is its candidness. this does not shy away from the blunt, violent, explicit living conditions of a brothel slave. i think it would have done a disservice to the story and characters had it been sugarcoated. but in the midst of that brutal honesty, this is also a story about friendship and sisterhood, rising after hardships, the value of humanity and self-worth, and the price of freedom. amara is definitely a character worth rooting for. the thing that bothered me is how modern the story feels. while i do want accuracy with historical fiction, i dont expect the writing to necessarily reflect the time period (ie. a story set in the 1500s doesnt need to be written in old shakespearean english). but with this, if it hadnt been explicitly stated that this is set in first century pompeii, i would have never believed it. there are just so many things about the writing and characters that make this feel like a contemporary romance, rather than historical fiction. every day events, modern language, the characters behaving as if they were living in todays world. maybe its meant to make the story more accessible, but it often took me out of the moment. there are also a few things that are left unresolved at the end, which is annoying. but i did enjoy the story for the most part. i think there are some pretty relevant themes and a good commentary on the role of women. i would be willing to read more books by this author. ↠ 3.5 stars

  2. 4 out of 5

    Lucy Langford

    The full 5*****. May men fall to me as this offering falls to you, Greatest Aphrodite. Another one of my most anticipated reads and I was absolutely captured by this story. This book follows Amara, a once beloved doctor’s daughter whose life went to tragedy. She is sold to a brothel in Pompeii, owned by a master she completely despises, and far away from home. Despite this, her spirit is not broken: she is resourceful, secretive, and clever. She’s also tough and strong, and no matter how hard her The full 5*****. May men fall to me as this offering falls to you, Greatest Aphrodite. Another one of my most anticipated reads and I was absolutely captured by this story. This book follows Amara, a once beloved doctor’s daughter whose life went to tragedy. She is sold to a brothel in Pompeii, owned by a master she completely despises, and far away from home. Despite this, her spirit is not broken: she is resourceful, secretive, and clever. She’s also tough and strong, and no matter how hard her master tries to break her spirit, she continues to resist. Amara knows that in order to gain her freedom, it will force her to make decisions that’ll cost her happiness, and her new found sisterhood. She knows that in order to survive, there will be many self sacrifices she will need to make. I adored this book- it was utterly captivating. It was also devastating and made me so sad and angry at times. I was so ensnared into the lives of the she-wolves I just had to find out what happens. I love how Elodie Harper gives each individual she wolf her own personality and her own history. I enjoyed her exploration of these she wolf characters as they felt so true and real, I just wanted to protect them all. Elodie Harper not only explored what life was like for the women working in the brothel, but also the isolating life of the lone male slave-prostitute, Paris. The author also went onto explore the relationship of the master (Felix) to each woman, how they are treated outside the brothel, and how both other slaves and citizens treated them too. Despite the hard-hitting reality of life as a slave-prostitute, this was also filled with so much hope, love and humour between the women. I just loved that even in the darkest moments of their lives, they still had each other and had such a strong sisterhood and support system. I was so enamoured with these characters that I wanted them all to break free from their situation. I am so glad I read Mary Beard’s “Pompeii” before reading this book, as both books gave me the imagination to ‘see’ Pompeii as it would have been, to imagine the streets and places Amara visited. Elodie Harper has weaved so much historical fact into fiction that I just loved it- especially the inspiration from t he graffiti found in the brothel , as well as including historical figures such as Pliny the Elder. Elodie Harper has written such a brilliant historical fiction of this time period, and has given a much needed voice to these women, that I can not wait to see what happens next on Amara’s journey (and I also hope to see more of the other she wolves!).

  3. 5 out of 5

    Sara

    ARC received in exchange for an honest review Sold into slavery by her mother and forced into prostitution, Amara has never forgotten what her life was like as a free woman. Now forced to sell her body for a man she despises, Amara must use everything she knows to survive the harsh reality of life in Pompeii and help keep her fellow she-wolves safe. Everything has its price, and Amara will grasp at anything to be free again. Set in the Ancient city of Pompeii, The Wolf Den centres around slave Ama ARC received in exchange for an honest review Sold into slavery by her mother and forced into prostitution, Amara has never forgotten what her life was like as a free woman. Now forced to sell her body for a man she despises, Amara must use everything she knows to survive the harsh reality of life in Pompeii and help keep her fellow she-wolves safe. Everything has its price, and Amara will grasp at anything to be free again. Set in the Ancient city of Pompeii, The Wolf Den centres around slave Amara and her fellow prostitues at a local brothel. Life is hard, and the novel never shys away from exploring the harsh realities these women face on a daily basis. Sexual, emotional and physical violence are a regular occurrence, and all of them are treated as commodities. Disposable ones. Because once beauty has faded, and the money dries up, what else could they have to offer? Amara as a character is intelligence and resourceful. She's never really been broken like the other girls she works alongside. She still maintains a sense of her former life, and has the ability to use her skills to try and break free. At times it makes her a ruthless individual, and not entirely likeable, however you can see why she acts this way. The secrets, the schemes, the lies. It's all for her freedom. I really liked the relationship between all of the women within the Wolf Den. They're a found family of sorts, looking our for one another and trying to make some semblance of a life with the cards they've been dealt. There are moments of love and laughter scattered between them all, celebrating festivals and attending the gladiator fights together. There's also the inevitable jealousy and bitterness that accompanies such a life. I will say that I found a lot of the girls to be quite one dimensional in many regards. There's the mother figure in Cressa, the beautiful naive one in Dido, the outgoing one who is actually very vulnerable in Victoria etc. however overall I do think they work well as a unit. More complicated and interesting however is Amara's relationship with Felix. Her keeper and master. Although not her first 'owner', he's the one who makes her feel the most worthless. He's unpredictable, violent and the hatred she feels for him radiates from her every pore. Yet sometimes, in rare moments of tenderness, she feels sorry for him too. His life mirrors her own in many ways, and I think Amara sees a lot of herself in him - which scares her more than she dares admit. The story is set against the backdrop of Pompeii, but I often struggled to really picture the city. The volcano is never mentioned for one thing and outside of the brothel we don't get to see much of the hustle and bustle of everyday life in all its glory. We see festivals, special occasions but not much else. Although Amara's world is small, and revolves solely around the Wolf Den and it's inhabitants, some expansion into the surrounding city would have helped bring this world to life a bit more and inject a bit more soul and historical flair into the story. If I'm being honest, I felt this could have been set in any time period if you took out the Roman references to Gods and gladiators. I also found the plot and pacing to be incredibly slow. It's obviously heavily character driven, with a focus on exploring these women's lives. However, I felt like not a lot actually happened and the ending feels predictable yet unrealistic in such a harsh and unforgiving world. In a story that opens up these women's lives and lays everything bare so candidly, it felt a little cheap, a little too simple. An interesting historical read, with some complex characters set in a world I've never explored before. I just wish this had packed more of an emotional punch.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Dannii Elle

    Actual rating 4.5/5 stars. Amara was once the daughter of an esteemed doctor. He had no sons and so imbued her with all of his knowledge. Amara thought this meant her future would look much like his, but she was sorely mistaken. She was to be bartered off, like live-stock and every other woman. This potential future filled her with dread but would later come to seem like dream come true when fate decided something else for her. Her parents died, their debts become hers, she was enslaved to a brot Actual rating 4.5/5 stars. Amara was once the daughter of an esteemed doctor. He had no sons and so imbued her with all of his knowledge. Amara thought this meant her future would look much like his, but she was sorely mistaken. She was to be bartered off, like live-stock and every other woman. This potential future filled her with dread but would later come to seem like dream come true when fate decided something else for her. Her parents died, their debts become hers, she was enslaved to a brothel owner, and was removed from the only home she had ever known to bustling Pompeii. Amara became nothing more than another one of his she-wolf whores. Alone she was nothing, but these women who became her sisters roamed as a pack, and together they were not to be underestimated. From the very opening chapter, and right until the novel's close, this was a very emotional and traumatic read. Scenes of rape, violence, and both mental and physical abuse featured repeatedly and ensured the reader was aware of the truly hopeless situation these women had been forced into. Their lives were ones of sorrow and their feelings were transferred to the reader through the author's thoughtful prose. There were, however, moments of purity and happiness also delivered. These were scant and fleeting but did break up the monotony and degradation that was Amara, and the other women's, existence. Interactions with the other women were often the source of this hard-fought-for joy and I enjoyed seeing them grow to love and find strength in one another. The males who also frequented these pages were often dealing with their own demons. The enhanced position that their sex afforded them in society meant that they often took their emotions out on anyone they deemed lesser than themselves, however. Women brought the brunt of anger, with fists and harsh words often thrown their way. Other males were seemingly good and kind, but their lack of understanding made them careless to the tender hearts and souls they were tasked with caring for, leading them to form as many cracks in the scant armour these women wrapped around themselves as those who truly wished them harm. Enemies lurked on every side and I thought, on multiple occasions that Amara's outcome was going to be as bleak as all that had gone before it. A bittersweet conclusion seemed like the most apt way to end this story and I'm glad the author chose to deliver it. It felt authentic, did not degrade all that had come before, and gave the reader some measure of hope to take away from this painful but exquisitely well-crafted read. This was very much not the tale I thought it would be and I very much enjoyed it, due to that. Perhaps enjoy isn't the best word to use when describing a book as tragic as this one. I was captivated by the writing style, sympathetic to the focus, and appreciative of the delicacy the author had in conveying this story. I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to the author, Elodie Harper, and the publisher, Head of Zeus, for this opportunity.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Emma

    A surprisingly emotional account of women's lives and what they have to do to survive. Amara's strength, intelligence, and determination make her a dazzling character to watch, especially when shown against the poverty and desperation of the brothel. There are no punches pulled here, this is a place of violence and fear. A place in which friendships matter, but perhaps not as much as self. In the background, the threat of a larger tragedy hangs over everything. All this striving and hope doomed A surprisingly emotional account of women's lives and what they have to do to survive. Amara's strength, intelligence, and determination make her a dazzling character to watch, especially when shown against the poverty and desperation of the brothel. There are no punches pulled here, this is a place of violence and fear. A place in which friendships matter, but perhaps not as much as self. In the background, the threat of a larger tragedy hangs over everything. All this striving and hope doomed by what comes next. ARC via Netgalley.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Ellery Adams

    This is a hard book to rate. The first half was a five-star read. I was completely invested in Amara's story and utterly immersed in a world that was all-too-often crude and cruel to women—especially women in the pleasure trade. The second half lost momentum and could have used some trimming. One of the most unique books I've read in a long time. The sisterhood among the brothel women was poignant and lovely. This is a hard book to rate. The first half was a five-star read. I was completely invested in Amara's story and utterly immersed in a world that was all-too-often crude and cruel to women—especially women in the pleasure trade. The second half lost momentum and could have used some trimming. One of the most unique books I've read in a long time. The sisterhood among the brothel women was poignant and lovely.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Liz Barnsley

    The Wolf Den really is a beautifully crafted historical novel, the sheer immersive sense of it is wonderful, bringing to life a long ago community in a place which we know holds no happy ending. This is before that well known tragedy, featuring a strong, intelligent and intriguing main protagonist who, despite her most horrific circumstances, refuses to accept this is all she can be. Set in Pompeii, specifically in The Wolf Den, a brothel where the women slaves have no choice on what they do, the The Wolf Den really is a beautifully crafted historical novel, the sheer immersive sense of it is wonderful, bringing to life a long ago community in a place which we know holds no happy ending. This is before that well known tragedy, featuring a strong, intelligent and intriguing main protagonist who, despite her most horrific circumstances, refuses to accept this is all she can be. Set in Pompeii, specifically in The Wolf Den, a brothel where the women slaves have no choice on what they do, the life is brutal and mentally harsh. Somehow however, this is a place of hope in so many ways and The Wolf Den is a tale of friendship and love, of determination and rising above, of a struggle for survival both without and within. Elodie Harper paints a picture that is hauntingly vivid, writing with an almost cinematic style that describes both character and setting pitch perfectly. The story plays out against the backdrop of a place long lost and it is hugely addictive and cleverly layered. I’m so happy there will be more. I was reluctant to leave this book and Amara behind me, it was a brilliant read and I can’t wait for the next. Highly Recommended.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Kate

    I loved every single page, every moment of reading this fabulous novel. It populates the now ruined streets and buildings of Pompeii with the women of this vibrant city, so full of life. It tells the story of the she-wolves, the prostitutes, of Pompeii's most famous brothel, the Lupanar. It isn't salacious, it isn't erotic. Instead this is a fascinating portrayal of these women's lives, so full of misery and abuse but with such fight and resilience. It is a romance of sorts but this isn't romanc I loved every single page, every moment of reading this fabulous novel. It populates the now ruined streets and buildings of Pompeii with the women of this vibrant city, so full of life. It tells the story of the she-wolves, the prostitutes, of Pompeii's most famous brothel, the Lupanar. It isn't salacious, it isn't erotic. Instead this is a fascinating portrayal of these women's lives, so full of misery and abuse but with such fight and resilience. It is a romance of sorts but this isn't romance as we would know it. I loved Amara. She is an incredible character. Utterly engrossing and if it isn't in my top ten books of 2021 I'll be amazed. Review to follow closer to the publication date on For Winter Nights. As a note, I have visited Pompeii regularly over the years and my next visit will be transformed by having read this wonderful book.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Claire Douglas

    I couldn't put this book down all weekend. Such a fascinating, compulsive and heartbreaking story and already one of my favourites of 2021. The story is told from Amara's point of view - a doctor's daughter who is sold into slavery and how she survives in the Pompeii brothel called The Wolf Den owned by the brutal and manipulative Felix. The characters were so brilliantly depicted and well rounded that I really cared about the women and their fate. I don't want to say too much without spoiling t I couldn't put this book down all weekend. Such a fascinating, compulsive and heartbreaking story and already one of my favourites of 2021. The story is told from Amara's point of view - a doctor's daughter who is sold into slavery and how she survives in the Pompeii brothel called The Wolf Den owned by the brutal and manipulative Felix. The characters were so brilliantly depicted and well rounded that I really cared about the women and their fate. I don't want to say too much without spoiling the story but it's beautiful written, with vivid descriptions of Pompeii and very haunting. I already can't stop thinking about Amara, Cressa, Dido, Victoria and the other she-wolves. Highly recommended.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Tripfiction

    Novel set in ancient POMPEII YOU TUBE REVIEW: https://youtu.be/ezO00ynpSI0 I have been to Pompeii and marvelled at the ruins and remnants of lives lived when it all ended in AD 79 with the eruption of Vesuvius. It is hard sometimes to equate what one sees today with how life was way back then. When I went to Rome I was delighted to discover Alberto Angela’s novel A Day in the Life of Ancient Rome which offers a flavour of daily life amongst the Romans in AD 115. It was fascinating. So I was deligh Novel set in ancient POMPEII YOU TUBE REVIEW: https://youtu.be/ezO00ynpSI0 I have been to Pompeii and marvelled at the ruins and remnants of lives lived when it all ended in AD 79 with the eruption of Vesuvius. It is hard sometimes to equate what one sees today with how life was way back then. When I went to Rome I was delighted to discover Alberto Angela’s novel A Day in the Life of Ancient Rome which offers a flavour of daily life amongst the Romans in AD 115. It was fascinating. So I was delighted to explore ancient Pompeii in the capable hands of this author. This novel, too, is redolent of how life probably was in Pompeii’s heyday. Each chapter in the book has a short opener, sayings and quotes of the time and/or recorded graffiti both indoors and outdoors – it was common practice to leave messages scrawled on walls for others to read, both as generalisations, announcements and personal notes to a specific person. This is the story of Amara who grew up in a well-healed household in Greece. Her father died leaving her mother and her impecunious and thus she was sold into slavery, a hugely common event for people without means. She ends up at the notorious brothel in the city, The Wolf Den, where she has to service customers. This is as much about the dynamics between the women in the house, the claustrophobic surroundings, choked with smoke from the oil candles, as it is about her personal life in the den and her determination to break out if she possibly can. The perpetual gloaming in the interiors adds a really palpable backdrop to the narrative and is such a stark contrast to the heat and sunshine, for the most part, on the streets beyond. Felix owns and runs the brothel and he is inevitably a tricky character. It is worth staying in his good books and Amara has worked this out. She gradually formulates a plan to move into the higher social echelons, by calling on her musical skill set, learnt as a young woman at home. She meets Pliny The Elder, the Admiral of the Fleet, who, we know from the history books, 5 years later experienced the eruption of Vesuvius, which of course decimated the city, leaving the ruins that are still being excavated to this day (the most recent discovery is a ceremonial chariot with the imprint of ropes). The goings-on at the brothel are only lightly detailed and the reader discovers a good deal about the rituals, food and wine laced with honey. You can almost hear the chatter of the characters on the streets, feel the sun burning down and imbibe the atmosphere behind the large wooden doors of splendid villas. The press of people on the teeming streets as they go about their day, visit the games, eat out and go grocery shopping all seems like an anathema given our current situation in Covid times and the edict, for now, not to mingle in large groups. This is certainly a novel to pick up if you intend to head for Pompeii one of these days.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Bayan Sh

    I've just read the most emotional line.. :/ "She has never had a friend like Dido. She is the light in the darkness of her life." WARNING: rape, violence, abuse -physical and mental. This was so emotional, ugh. I was feeling for these women every single moment, I was so traumatized, I will never forget this book. It was so well written, and the pace was very good, and the characters deeply created. The character development was so deep and the relationships between the women were evolving in wa I've just read the most emotional line.. :/ "She has never had a friend like Dido. She is the light in the darkness of her life." WARNING: rape, violence, abuse -physical and mental. This was so emotional, ugh. I was feeling for these women every single moment, I was so traumatized, I will never forget this book. It was so well written, and the pace was very good, and the characters deeply created. The character development was so deep and the relationships between the women were evolving in ways I couldn't get over, I was so happy for the fact that they found solace in each other. The abuse part disturbed me but I was stupidly taken in by the writing style, I was amazed at how the author could me feel a fist while reading about a woman being delivered one. The male characters varied between ones I found kind but useless and one that were cruel, and making me wish them harm. I was genuinely on the edge of my seat at every corner turned! And the bittersweet ending took me by surprise, a very warm kind of surprise. This was unexpected, fun, captivating, painful and I'm glad I read it! :')

  12. 5 out of 5

    Stephanie (Bookfever)

    The Wolf Den is set in the lupanar (brothel) of ancient Rome’s Pompeii. Lupanar means wolf den and the prostitues were called she-wolves. That alone made for a very unique setting, one I haven’t come across before. The story follows the Greek Amara who was sold by her mother and now works in the brothel for Felix who owns her. Her live isn’t her own anymore but she’s willing to do anything she can to gain her freedom. It’s been a while since I read a really great historical fiction set in the anc The Wolf Den is set in the lupanar (brothel) of ancient Rome’s Pompeii. Lupanar means wolf den and the prostitues were called she-wolves. That alone made for a very unique setting, one I haven’t come across before. The story follows the Greek Amara who was sold by her mother and now works in the brothel for Felix who owns her. Her live isn’t her own anymore but she’s willing to do anything she can to gain her freedom. It’s been a while since I read a really great historical fiction set in the ancient world and I’m just so glad that this story exceeded my expectations since I had been so highly anticipating it. I loved it so much to the point of hardly being able to put the book down and that doesn’t happen very often with me. I liked how the usual stories set in ancient Rome are about the emperors and empresses but with this one we get one that’s about the regular people of Pompeii and the hardships they so often went through. And as horrendous as Amara’s life was, I really enjoyed reading about her. She was an interesting and clever character. Knowing what this book is about you definitely don’t expect rainbows and unicorns but I really did feel her sorrow as well as the sorrow of her fellow she-wolves. I also enjoyed reading about the other women working in the lupanar; Berenice, Cressa, Dido and Victoria. They were all very different from one another but I liked how they all had each other’s back and the caring and humorous moments they shared with each other. Amara and Dido especially had a really great bond with each other and I loved reading about their friendship. But my heart really went out to them all. Felix and Amara had quite an interesting relationship, I must say. Amara hated his guts obviously for buying her putting her to work in his brother but there were moments where the lines definitely blurred. The need to survive him and the life she was leading at the lupanar was always present though. Also, this book is the first in a trilogy if I’m not mistaken so I can’t wait to see where things go next. Beautifully written, brutally honest and packing quite the emotional punch, The Wolf Den by Elodie Harper is now one of my favorite books of the year. I would very highly recommend it to everyone!

  13. 5 out of 5

    Erika Lynn (shelf.inspiration)

    4.5 Stars See more on my Bookstagram: Shelf.Inspiration Instagram “May I know love’s power, if never its sweetness.” - The Wolf Den. Amara was once a beloved daughter, until her father’s death plunged her family into penury. Now she is a slave in Pompeii’s famous brothel, owned by a man she despises. Sharp, clever, and resourceful, Amara is forced to hide her talents. For as a she-wolf, her only value lies in the desire she can stir in others. But Amara’s spirit is far from broken. By day, she 4.5 Stars See more on my Bookstagram: Shelf.Inspiration Instagram “May I know love’s power, if never its sweetness.” - The Wolf Den. Amara was once a beloved daughter, until her father’s death plunged her family into penury. Now she is a slave in Pompeii’s famous brothel, owned by a man she despises. Sharp, clever, and resourceful, Amara is forced to hide her talents. For as a she-wolf, her only value lies in the desire she can stir in others. But Amara’s spirit is far from broken. By day, she walks the streets with her fellow she-wolves, finding comfort in the laughter and dreams they share. For the streets of Pompeii are alive with opportunity. Out here, even the lowest slave can secure a reversal in fortune. Amara has learnt that everything in the city has a price, but how much is her freedom going to cost her? This is the first book in a new trilogy! I was so excited to read this one because of its setting in ancient Pompeii (pre-eruption) and its historical fiction feel. This story follows Amara as she spends her days working in a brothel. However, she has bigger plans for herself and is determined to be set free. I absolutely loved the characters in this book. I really enjoyed being able to see the friendship among the she-wolves and how they support each other in this difficult world. Also, I love that a lot of historical truth was wrapped up in the plot of the book. I am really interested in ancient history so I found this to be fascinating. Overall, I am already eager to read the next in the series and see where Amara’s life takes her next.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Vicki Antipodean Bookclub

    “May men fall to me as this offering falls to you, Greatest Aphrodite. May I know love’s power, if never its sweetness.” Amara drops her mangled garland on the ever-growing pile of heaped offerings from the desperate whores of Pompeii” . . . Every so often you read a book that just makes you want to wiggle your toes with pleasure because it’s just so good. The Wolf Den is the perfect combination of meticulous research and a flair for storytelling that transported me straight to Pompeii in AD74 Set in “May men fall to me as this offering falls to you, Greatest Aphrodite. May I know love’s power, if never its sweetness.” Amara drops her mangled garland on the ever-growing pile of heaped offerings from the desperate whores of Pompeii” . . . Every so often you read a book that just makes you want to wiggle your toes with pleasure because it’s just so good. The Wolf Den is the perfect combination of meticulous research and a flair for storytelling that transported me straight to Pompeii in AD74 Set in the Lupanar of Pompeii, the town brothel known as The Wolf Den, this is the story of a group of women sold into slavery from across the Roman Empire. Amara is Greek by birth and the daughter of a doctor. She was sold first into domestic servitude and then into prostitution. Dido is from Carthage, Beronice is from Egypt and Victoria was rescued from the town dump as a baby and has known no other life. Stripped of everything, including their real names, the women all long for a way out of The Wolf Den whether through love, death or a series of calculated gambles Each chapter starts with a contemporary quote or piece of graffiti from the walls of Pompeii, a device that sets the scene beautifully as you walk the streets with the girls as they go “fishing,” calling into The Sparrow for hot wine or parading through the painted colonnades in the forum. Although the scenes of female friendship lend some levity, fear, sweat, dirt, desperation and powerlessness pervade the story A beautifully penned story, set in the Ancient world, from a female perspective in a place that has always fascinated me, I absolutely loved it. Thank you to Head of Zeus and NetGalley for my ARC. The Wolf Den is out in May 2021 and watch out because I’ll be reminding you of it nearer the time!!

  15. 5 out of 5

    Cathy

    As swiftly becomes clear, the women of the Wolf Den are nothing more than business assets – and perishable ones at that – destined to be discarded once their beauty or sexual allure no longer generates sufficient profit for brothel owner and pimp, Felix. Set in AD74, the book vivdly conjures up the vibrant atmosphere of daily life in Pompeii – its bustling streets and market places lined with vendors, its bath houses, temples and taverns. On festival days, such as Vinalia, its streets become more As swiftly becomes clear, the women of the Wolf Den are nothing more than business assets – and perishable ones at that – destined to be discarded once their beauty or sexual allure no longer generates sufficient profit for brothel owner and pimp, Felix. Set in AD74, the book vivdly conjures up the vibrant atmosphere of daily life in Pompeii – its bustling streets and market places lined with vendors, its bath houses, temples and taverns. On festival days, such as Vinalia, its streets become more crowded than ever as citizens vie for the best view of processions. Other scenes in the book bring to life the excitement of the Games with their gladiatorial combats and beast hunts, or visits to the theatre to see the latest play. Probably best though to steer clear of the honey-glazed dormouse served at dinner or the rigorous beauty regime Amara and her fellow She Wolves have to undergo, including tweezering out the hair under their arms and slathering their legs with with waxy resin then scraping them until they are smooth. Other neat touches in the book are the chapter headings consisting of fragments of graffiti or lines from poems and plays, as well as a role for a real-life figure, Pliny the Elder. The diverse backgrounds of the She-Wolves whose lives the book follows – Amara, Dido, Victoria, Cressa and Beronice – illustrate the various ways in which women could find themselves slaves: being left an orphan, captured during a raid by slave traders or, most shocking of all, sold off by families who have nothing else left of value to sell. Whatever has brought them to the Wolf Den, they demonstrate a sisterly solidarity finding pleasure where they can in their rare time off from servicing clients. There’s bawdy humour in the book such as when, gathered in their favourite tavern, The Sparrow, Amara observes, “Here we all are… Four penniless slaves, sucking off idiots for bread and olives. What a life”. Of course, what none of them knows is that within a few years the eruption of Mount Vesuvius will change the life of everyone in Pompeii, rich or poor. In addition to loss of freedom, slavery also brings a loss of identity. On being acquired by Felix, the She Wolves are given new names, can no longer speak in their native tongues and have to converse in Latin instead. Paradoxically, they are often ‘marketed’ to potential customers based on their racial background in order to lend them an air of exoticism. Whether to share their real names with others is one of the few things they can decide for themselves, which is why it’s an act of such significance when Amara decides to do so. And, as she is reminded, “even slaves own their happiness.  Feelings are the only things we do own.” I doubt any reader can fail to admire Amara’s spirit. As she says, “Either we choose to stay alive or we give up. And if it’s living we choose, then we do whatever it takes.” Resourceful and determined to make the best of her situation in order to one day earn her freedom, Amara’s not afraid to offer Felix suggestions about ways to enhance the income of the Wolf Den or his money-lending business. What she doesn’t realize is just what a cut-throat world he operates in and the consequences that may follow from him taking her advice. As he remarks, “What do you think it takes to survive in Pompeii?”  By the end of the book, Amara has discovered exactly what it takes to survive in Pompeii, forced to make a choice between love and freedom. The Wolf Den is an illuminating portrait of the lives of women determined to cling to what little control they have over their lives, even if that’s only expressing their disdain for their clients via disparaging graffiti daubed on the walls of their cells. If nothing else, it acts as a record of their existence. As the author notes on her Pompeii blog, the remains of the Lupanar is one of the most visited buildings in Pompeii, a place that visitors remember for “its erotic frescoes and for the small cells with their stone beds, left almost as if the women and their clients might return at any moment”. I can testify to this having been fortunate enough to visit Pompeii some years ago during a holiday in Italy. The Wolf Den would be the perfect preparation for a first or return visit.  

  16. 5 out of 5

    Snezana

    Amara has been sold by her mother as a slave, to a brothel in Pompeii. She lives and spends her life as a she-wolf, one of the prostitues for Felix, who is her pimp and the owner of the Wolf Den. Wow, what a powerful tale. It's incredibly captivating, emotional, real. Yes, the setting is different, but the writing doesn't necessarily reflect the setting and the times, so it's really easy to read. The entire story has this quality about it, that just makes you root for Amara and the other woman, Amara has been sold by her mother as a slave, to a brothel in Pompeii. She lives and spends her life as a she-wolf, one of the prostitues for Felix, who is her pimp and the owner of the Wolf Den. Wow, what a powerful tale. It's incredibly captivating, emotional, real. Yes, the setting is different, but the writing doesn't necessarily reflect the setting and the times, so it's really easy to read. The entire story has this quality about it, that just makes you root for Amara and the other woman, because you are so invested into their fates. You see very explicit descriptions, even violent ones of their lives as whores of the brothel. You follow their lives within the brothel, the relationships between these women who are everything to each other, the relationship each of them has with Felix, their owner and pimp, and the relationship these women have with their customers. I truly enjoyed the depiction of the relationship between the women, the bond they shared in all their tragedy as women who had nothing, but gave everything. The strength of Amara, and all of them is just breathtaking. You dive really deep into their insecurities, into their struggles with self-worth and their ability to cope living such lives. Amara, the main character is an intelligent, resourceful, clever young woman, who'll fight and do anything to become a freedwoman. I personally felt it had a great pace, it kept me hooked and wanting to read on, simply to find out what happens with each and every one of them. It's definitely different to what I have read before, and it's refreshing to read a story that focuses on women in this setting.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Wendy Robey

    This story is so atmospheric with such vivid characters and a tense setting. The portrayal of life as a whore in Pompei was so emotional and Elodie Harper isn’t afraid of showing the horrific side of poverty and life in the brothels. Amara and the other women captivate you completely with their friendship and support for one and another. Love, jealousy and rivalry shown between the women as they try to survive. So many themes covered in this wonderful story to give such an insight to the world i This story is so atmospheric with such vivid characters and a tense setting. The portrayal of life as a whore in Pompei was so emotional and Elodie Harper isn’t afraid of showing the horrific side of poverty and life in the brothels. Amara and the other women captivate you completely with their friendship and support for one and another. Love, jealousy and rivalry shown between the women as they try to survive. So many themes covered in this wonderful story to give such an insight to the world in which these women live.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Lou

    Set in AD 74, Elodie Harper’s The Wolf Den tells the enthralling and richly imagined tale of Amara, a prostitute enslaved to Pompeii’s lupanar brothel. Serving a rich feast of historic atmosphere with all the pace of popular drama, fans of spicy historic fiction will be left longing to devour the second course of this trilogy - think TV show Harlots set in ancient Pompeii. Educated doctor’s daughter Amara once lived free, but the poverty that came in the wake of her father’s death led to enslave Set in AD 74, Elodie Harper’s The Wolf Den tells the enthralling and richly imagined tale of Amara, a prostitute enslaved to Pompeii’s lupanar brothel. Serving a rich feast of historic atmosphere with all the pace of popular drama, fans of spicy historic fiction will be left longing to devour the second course of this trilogy - think TV show Harlots set in ancient Pompeii. Educated doctor’s daughter Amara once lived free, but the poverty that came in the wake of her father’s death led to enslavement and the Wolf Den brothel, where her cell is adorned with a picture of “a woman being taken from behind” and a terracotta lamp “modelled in the shape of a penis” (the real-life lupanar brothel is famed for its erotic frescos). By day, the she-wolves visit the women’s baths and stalk the streets to draw business to the Den. By night, “the brothel passes like a scene from Hades: the endless procession of drunken men, the smoke, the soot, angry shouting,” until Amara lies in her cell, “unable to sleep, suffocated by rage”. When fellow she-wolf Victoria says how lucky they are, Amara’s retort is characteristically sharp: “Here we all are…Four penniless slaves sucking off idiots for bread and olives. What a life.” And a life she refuses to settle for when “the desire to escape takes hold, its roots digging deep under her skin, breaking her apart.” Harper’s style is exhilaratingly direct, with images lingering long in the mind’s eye. You smell the oil lamps and temple incense, taste sticky figs, feel physical blows and the dialogue packs powerful a punch, too. It’s a vivacious piece of work, and all underpinned by a woman’s longing for freedom.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Hayley

    Thank you to Head of Zeus for sending me a glorious copy of 𝐓𝐇𝐄 𝐖𝐎𝐋𝐅 𝐃𝐄𝐍 by Elodie Harper, and thank you to The SquadPod for arranging the brilliant readalong. - 𝐓𝐡𝐞 𝐋𝐮𝐩𝐚𝐧𝐚𝐫 𝐢𝐧 𝐏𝐨𝐦𝐩𝐞𝐢𝐢 𝐡𝐚𝐝 𝐭𝐰𝐨 𝐦𝐞𝐚𝐧𝐢𝐧𝐠𝐬 𝐟𝐨𝐫 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐑𝐨𝐦𝐚𝐧𝐬 - 𝐛𝐨𝐭𝐡 𝐛𝐫𝐨𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐥 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐝𝐞𝐧 𝐨𝐟 𝐰𝐨𝐥𝐯𝐞𝐬, 𝐣𝐮𝐬𝐭 𝐚𝐬 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐰𝐨𝐫𝐝 𝐋𝐮𝐩𝐚 𝐜𝐨𝐮𝐥𝐝 𝐦𝐞𝐚𝐧 𝐛𝐨𝐭𝐡 𝐩𝐫𝐨𝐬𝐭𝐢𝐭𝐮𝐭𝐞 𝐨𝐫 𝐬𝐡𝐞-𝐰𝐨𝐥𝐟. - Where do I start with this amazing book? If you haven't read it yet I highly suggest you get yourself a copy! 🧡🐺 - 𝐓𝐡𝐞𝐫𝐞'𝐬 𝐚 𝐠𝐫𝐢𝐞𝐟 𝐝𝐞𝐞𝐩 𝐞𝐧𝐨𝐮𝐠𝐡 𝐭𝐨 𝐝𝐫𝐨𝐰𝐧 𝐢𝐧, 𝐢𝐟 𝐲𝐨𝐮 𝐥𝐞𝐭 𝐢𝐭 𝐫𝐢𝐬𝐞 𝐮𝐧𝐜𝐡𝐞𝐜𝐤𝐞𝐝. 𝐀𝐦𝐚𝐫𝐚 Thank you to Head of Zeus for sending me a glorious copy of 𝐓𝐇𝐄 𝐖𝐎𝐋𝐅 𝐃𝐄𝐍 by Elodie Harper, and thank you to The SquadPod for arranging the brilliant readalong. - 𝐓𝐡𝐞 𝐋𝐮𝐩𝐚𝐧𝐚𝐫 𝐢𝐧 𝐏𝐨𝐦𝐩𝐞𝐢𝐢 𝐡𝐚𝐝 𝐭𝐰𝐨 𝐦𝐞𝐚𝐧𝐢𝐧𝐠𝐬 𝐟𝐨𝐫 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐑𝐨𝐦𝐚𝐧𝐬 - 𝐛𝐨𝐭𝐡 𝐛𝐫𝐨𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐥 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐝𝐞𝐧 𝐨𝐟 𝐰𝐨𝐥𝐯𝐞𝐬, 𝐣𝐮𝐬𝐭 𝐚𝐬 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐰𝐨𝐫𝐝 𝐋𝐮𝐩𝐚 𝐜𝐨𝐮𝐥𝐝 𝐦𝐞𝐚𝐧 𝐛𝐨𝐭𝐡 𝐩𝐫𝐨𝐬𝐭𝐢𝐭𝐮𝐭𝐞 𝐨𝐫 𝐬𝐡𝐞-𝐰𝐨𝐥𝐟. - Where do I start with this amazing book? If you haven't read it yet I highly suggest you get yourself a copy! 🧡🐺 - 𝐓𝐡𝐞𝐫𝐞'𝐬 𝐚 𝐠𝐫𝐢𝐞𝐟 𝐝𝐞𝐞𝐩 𝐞𝐧𝐨𝐮𝐠𝐡 𝐭𝐨 𝐝𝐫𝐨𝐰𝐧 𝐢𝐧, 𝐢𝐟 𝐲𝐨𝐮 𝐥𝐞𝐭 𝐢𝐭 𝐫𝐢𝐬𝐞 𝐮𝐧𝐜𝐡𝐞𝐜𝐤𝐞𝐝. 𝐀𝐦𝐚𝐫𝐚 𝐧𝐞𝐯𝐞𝐫 𝐰𝐢𝐥𝐥. 𝐒𝐡𝐞 𝐬𝐭𝐚𝐧𝐝𝐬 𝐮𝐩, 𝐰𝐚𝐢𝐭𝐬 𝐟𝐨𝐫 𝐃𝐢𝐝𝐨 𝐭𝐨 𝐣𝐨𝐢𝐧 𝐡𝐞𝐫, 𝐡𝐨𝐥𝐝𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐨𝐮𝐭 𝐡𝐞𝐫 𝐡𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐰𝐢𝐭𝐡 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐩𝐨𝐢𝐬𝐞 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐜𝐨𝐧𝐟𝐢𝐝𝐞𝐧𝐜𝐞 𝐭𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐛𝐞𝐥𝐨𝐧𝐠𝐞𝐝 𝐭𝐨 𝐡𝐞𝐫 𝐨𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐫 𝐥𝐢𝐟𝐞. - The Wolf Den's main protagonist is Amara, once a free woman, sold into slavery after her Father's death left her family destitute and desperate. Amara is a fantastic character. She is all the things you want from a female lead protagonist: strong, resourceful, clever, and yet she never loses her vulnerability or her empathy and emotions. At times she hides these emotions well, but as the reader we have insight into her thoughts and feelings, and I think a lot of readers will feel a bond with her. - "𝐘𝐨𝐮 𝐭𝐫𝐲 𝐭𝐨 𝐤𝐞𝐞𝐩 𝐢𝐭 𝐢𝐧𝐬𝐢𝐝𝐞, 𝐝𝐨𝐧'𝐭 𝐲𝐨𝐮, 𝐚𝐥𝐥 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐝𝐢𝐟𝐟𝐞𝐫𝐞𝐧𝐭 𝐩𝐚𝐫𝐭𝐬 𝐨𝐟 𝐲𝐨𝐮𝐫𝐬𝐞𝐥𝐟, 𝐛𝐮𝐭 𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐲 𝐝𝐨𝐧'𝐭 𝐞𝐱𝐢𝐬𝐭 𝐚𝐧𝐲𝐦𝐨𝐫𝐞. 𝐈 𝐭𝐡𝐨𝐮𝐠𝐡𝐭 𝐨𝐟 𝐦𝐲 𝐦𝐨𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐫 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐨𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐫 𝐝𝐚𝐲, 𝐰𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐬𝐡𝐞 𝐰𝐨𝐮𝐥𝐝 𝐭𝐡𝐢𝐧𝐤 𝐨𝐟 𝐦𝐞, 𝐰𝐡𝐨 𝐬𝐡𝐞 𝐰𝐨𝐮𝐥𝐝 𝐬𝐞𝐞. 𝐈𝐟 𝐰𝐞 𝐦𝐞𝐭 𝐧𝐨𝐰. 𝐁𝐮𝐭 𝐬𝐡𝐞 𝐰𝐨𝐮𝐥𝐝𝐧'𝐭 𝐤𝐧𝐨𝐰 𝐦𝐞. 𝐈 𝐰𝐨𝐮𝐥𝐝𝐧'𝐭 𝐤𝐧𝐨𝐰 𝐦𝐞." - Amara is desperate to regain her freedom from the brothel, and she retains her sense of self during her enslavement despite having to keep up appearances and act the part. She quickly learns to protect herself physically and mentally any way she can - from both her clients, and from Felix, her cruel and calculating owner. - 𝐒𝐡𝐞 𝐫𝐞𝐦𝐞𝐦𝐛𝐞𝐫𝐬 𝐅𝐞𝐥𝐢𝐱 𝐛𝐮𝐲𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐫𝐢𝐩𝐞 𝐟𝐢𝐠𝐬 𝐟𝐨𝐫 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐣𝐨𝐮𝐫𝐧𝐞𝐲. 𝐓𝐡𝐞 𝐟𝐫𝐮𝐢𝐭 𝐬𝐦𝐞𝐥𝐭 𝐬𝐨 𝐬𝐰𝐞𝐞𝐭, 𝐢𝐭𝐬 𝐢𝐧𝐬𝐢𝐝𝐞𝐬 𝐩𝐢𝐧𝐤 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐬𝐡𝐢𝐧𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐰𝐡𝐞𝐧 𝐬𝐡𝐞 𝐬𝐩𝐥𝐢𝐭 𝐢𝐭 𝐨𝐩𝐞𝐧, 𝐬𝐭𝐢𝐜𝐤𝐲 𝐨𝐧 𝐡𝐞𝐫 𝐟𝐢𝐧𝐠𝐞𝐫𝐬. 𝐈𝐭 𝐰𝐚𝐬 𝐚𝐥𝐦𝐨𝐬𝐭 𝐚 𝐦𝐨𝐦𝐞𝐧𝐭 𝐨𝐟 𝐡𝐚𝐩𝐩𝐢𝐧𝐞𝐬𝐬. 𝐈𝐟 𝐡𝐚𝐩𝐩𝐢𝐧𝐞𝐬𝐬 𝐜𝐨𝐮𝐥𝐝 𝐞𝐱𝐢𝐬𝐭 𝐢𝐧 𝐚 𝐰𝐨𝐫𝐥𝐝 𝐰𝐡𝐞𝐫𝐞 𝐬𝐡𝐞 𝐡𝐚𝐝 𝐛𝐞𝐞𝐧 𝐛𝐨𝐮𝐠𝐡𝐭 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐬𝐨𝐥𝐝. 𝐀𝐦𝐚𝐫𝐚 𝐬𝐭𝐢𝐥𝐥 𝐰𝐨𝐧𝐝𝐞𝐫𝐬 𝐚𝐭 𝐭𝐡𝐢𝐬 𝐚𝐜𝐭 𝐨𝐟 𝐤𝐢𝐧𝐝𝐧𝐞𝐬𝐬 𝐟𝐫𝐨𝐦 𝐅𝐞𝐥𝐢𝐱. 𝐓𝐡𝐞𝐲 𝐰𝐞𝐫𝐞 𝐧𝐨𝐭 𝐭𝐨 𝐤𝐧𝐨𝐰, 𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐧, 𝐡𝐨𝐰 𝐮𝐧𝐜𝐡𝐚𝐫𝐚𝐜𝐭𝐞𝐫𝐢𝐬𝐭𝐢𝐜 𝐢𝐭 𝐰𝐨𝐮𝐥𝐝 𝐛𝐞. - One theme that shines through the story is friendship, and the love that the enslaved women have for each other despite the desperate circumstances they find themselves in. They all have different histories and backgrounds, but find common ground with each other, and some of the friendships are truly loving. - 𝐀𝐦𝐚𝐫𝐚 𝐥𝐨𝐨𝐤𝐬 𝐚𝐭 𝐃𝐢𝐝𝐨, 𝐚𝐭 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐣𝐨𝐲 𝐨𝐧 𝐡𝐞𝐫 𝐟𝐚𝐜𝐞, 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐫𝐞𝐚𝐥𝐢𝐳𝐞𝐬 𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐫𝐞 𝐢𝐬 𝐧𝐨𝐛𝐨𝐝𝐲 𝐬𝐡𝐞 𝐥𝐨𝐯𝐞𝐬 𝐦𝐨𝐫𝐞. 𝐖𝐚𝐫𝐦𝐭𝐡 𝐬𝐩𝐫𝐞𝐚𝐝𝐬 𝐭𝐡𝐫𝐨𝐮𝐠𝐡 𝐡𝐞𝐫. 𝐒𝐡𝐞 𝐡𝐚𝐬 𝐧𝐞𝐯𝐞𝐫 𝐡𝐚𝐝 𝐚 𝐟𝐫𝐢𝐞𝐧𝐝 𝐥𝐢𝐤𝐞 𝐃𝐢𝐝𝐨. 𝐒𝐡𝐞 𝐢𝐬 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐥𝐢𝐠𝐡𝐭 𝐢𝐧 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐝𝐚𝐫𝐤𝐧𝐞𝐬𝐬 𝐨𝐟 𝐡𝐞𝐫 𝐥𝐢𝐟𝐞. - The backstories of all the characters were so brilliantly captured throughout the story, and they added so much richness to the plot. Even some unlikeable characters were redeemed in some ways through their backstories. Noone survives tragedy unscathed. What I particularly liked was Amara's empathy for these characters, but also her challenges to them. The famous physician Gabor Maté said that there are two responses to trauma: you either learn from it, or you absorb it and enact it on others. For the characters who enact it others, their trauma cannot be used as an excuse, and Amara does not let it slide. - 𝐀𝐦𝐚𝐫𝐚 𝐠𝐞𝐭𝐬 𝐰𝐞𝐚𝐫𝐢𝐥𝐲 𝐭𝐨 𝐡𝐞𝐫 𝐟𝐞𝐞𝐭 ... "𝐁𝐞𝐡𝐚𝐯𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐥𝐢𝐤𝐞 𝐚 𝐬𝐡𝐢𝐭 𝐢𝐬𝐧'𝐭 𝐠𝐨𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐭𝐨 𝐦𝐚𝐤𝐞 𝐲𝐨𝐮𝐫 𝐥𝐢𝐟𝐞 𝐚𝐧𝐲 𝐞𝐚𝐬𝐢𝐞𝐫," 𝐬𝐡𝐞 𝐬𝐚𝐲𝐬. - I don't want to give away too much of the plot, but the way the story plays out is incredibly moving. I felt so heartbroken for Amara at different points in the story, and for all the women consigned to The Wolf Den. Amara loses so much, and it really is a bittersweet tale. I cried my eyes out at the end, but in the best way. - "𝐖𝐡𝐲 𝐝𝐢𝐝 𝐈 𝐛𝐮𝐲 𝐲𝐨𝐮?" ... 𝐅𝐞𝐥𝐢𝐱 𝐬𝐭𝐚𝐫𝐞𝐬 𝐢𝐧𝐭𝐨 𝐡𝐞𝐫 𝐞𝐲𝐞𝐬. "𝐈 𝐜𝐨𝐮𝐥𝐝𝐧'𝐭 𝐥𝐨𝐨𝐤 𝐚𝐧𝐲𝐰𝐡𝐞𝐫𝐞 𝐞𝐥𝐬𝐞 𝐟𝐫𝐨𝐦 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐦𝐨𝐦𝐞𝐧𝐭 𝐈 𝐬𝐚𝐰 𝐲𝐨𝐮. 𝐓𝐡𝐞𝐫𝐞 𝐲𝐨𝐮 𝐰𝐞𝐫𝐞, 𝐛𝐞𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐚𝐮𝐜𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧𝐞𝐝 𝐨𝐟𝐟 𝐚𝐬 𝐚 𝐜𝐨𝐦𝐦𝐨𝐧 𝐰𝐡𝐨𝐫𝐞, 𝐛𝐮𝐭 𝐲𝐨𝐮 𝐜𝐨𝐮𝐥𝐝 𝐡𝐚𝐯𝐞 𝐛𝐞𝐞𝐧 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐠𝐨𝐝𝐝𝐞𝐬𝐬 𝐃𝐢𝐚𝐧𝐚, 𝐟𝐫𝐨𝐦 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐰𝐚𝐲 𝐲𝐨𝐮 𝐡𝐞𝐥𝐝 𝐲𝐨𝐮𝐫𝐬𝐞𝐥𝐟. 𝐀𝐬 𝐢𝐟 𝐚𝐭 𝐚𝐧𝐲 𝐦𝐨𝐦𝐞𝐧𝐭, 𝐲𝐨𝐮 𝐰𝐨𝐮𝐥𝐝 𝐜𝐚𝐥𝐥 𝐨𝐧 𝐲𝐨𝐮𝐫 𝐡𝐮𝐧𝐭𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐝𝐨𝐠𝐬 𝐭𝐨 𝐭𝐞𝐚𝐫 𝐚𝐩𝐚𝐫𝐭 𝐞𝐯𝐞𝐫𝐲 𝐦𝐚𝐧 𝐰𝐡𝐨 𝐡𝐚𝐝 𝐝𝐚𝐫𝐞𝐝 𝐭𝐨 𝐬𝐞𝐞 𝐲𝐨𝐮 𝐧𝐚𝐤𝐞𝐝." - I'd highly recommend The Wolf Den, and I wouldn't hesitate to read more from Elodie Harper in the future. It's great to know that The Wolf Den is the first in a trilogy, as I will definitely be seeking out the other two books. 🧡🐺

  20. 4 out of 5

    Rachel

    Set in Pompeii, the story focuses on Amara who was sold as a slave into a brothel after her father died leaving her and her mother destitute. Amara’s relationships with the other girls in the brothel are explored deftly, they all seem to come to be in the brothel in many different ways, coming from disparate backgrounds and walks of life and each having their own way of coping with their situation. The sisterhood that the women form is intimate and relatable and evolves throughout the book in a Set in Pompeii, the story focuses on Amara who was sold as a slave into a brothel after her father died leaving her and her mother destitute. Amara’s relationships with the other girls in the brothel are explored deftly, they all seem to come to be in the brothel in many different ways, coming from disparate backgrounds and walks of life and each having their own way of coping with their situation. The sisterhood that the women form is intimate and relatable and evolves throughout the book in a very realistic and natural way. The theme of money comes into the book a lot, as a currency it can mean the difference between freedom and slavery, between respect and contempt, power and powerlessness. At times it is a very hard read, there are characters that pull at your heartstrings like Dido who really conveys a heartbreaking innocence and melancholy, but there are also great moments of empowerment. I loved Amara’s character, she has a brilliant arc and she’s not one of those characters where you find yourself yelling at the book for making stupid decisions. She can be slightly impulsive but she’s fully engaged with her reality and she is practical and occasionally mercenary by necessity, but to me that only made her more sympathetic and real because she is hardening herself in line with her new life. This is a great example of empowering, absorbing historical fiction with a memorable setting, and I’m excited that it’s slated to be part of a series which I’ll definitely be reading!

  21. 4 out of 5

    ☘Misericordia☘ ⚡ϟ⚡⛈⚡☁ ❇️❤❣

    AD 74. A really bad time to live as a woman. Gotta love the Diane references. Wonder, how the freedmen (and -women) were called all the well-wishing names: Liberta, Fortunata, Felix etc. Q: “You were magnificent.” “So I asked for four cocks magnificently?” (c) Q: When health is absent,” she says, raising her voice and switching to Greek, “wisdom cannot reveal itself, art cannot become manifest, strength cannot be exerted, wealth is useless and reason is powerless. I would not set Herophilus to music, AD 74. A really bad time to live as a woman. Gotta love the Diane references. Wonder, how the freedmen (and -women) were called all the well-wishing names: Liberta, Fortunata, Felix etc. Q: “You were magnificent.” “So I asked for four cocks magnificently?” (c) Q: When health is absent,” she says, raising her voice and switching to Greek, “wisdom cannot reveal itself, art cannot become manifest, strength cannot be exerted, wealth is useless and reason is powerless. I would not set Herophilus to music, sir, but I would live my life by his wisdom.” (c) Q: “The journey of the mind is always stranger than that of the body,” (c)

  22. 4 out of 5

    Jordan

    This was such an incredible book! I had the hardest time putting it down and I am dying for the sequel already (I was ecstatic when I discovered that this is a planned trilogy!). Find this review at Forever Lost in Literature! The Wolf Den was such a pleasant surprise and has quickly become one of my favorite reads this year so far. This is a historical fiction set in the ancient Roman city of Pompeii in the year 74 CE featuring Amara, a slave working as a prostitute in Pompeii's Lupanar, or brot This was such an incredible book! I had the hardest time putting it down and I am dying for the sequel already (I was ecstatic when I discovered that this is a planned trilogy!). Find this review at Forever Lost in Literature! The Wolf Den was such a pleasant surprise and has quickly become one of my favorite reads this year so far. This is a historical fiction set in the ancient Roman city of Pompeii in the year 74 CE featuring Amara, a slave working as a prostitute in Pompeii's Lupanar, or brothel. I spent a lot of time studying ancient Rome in my time as an undergrad and grad student, especially topics such as prostitution and slavery, so The Wolf Den's setting and premise was something that I was both excited for and a little nervous to see its execution. I was incredibly impressed and pleased by what I found, and it is so evident that Harper performed an abundant amount of research in order to capture this setting in the most authentic way possible. Also, just as a word of caution, this book handles topics such as sexual assault, slavery, general abuse (physical and mental), and suicide. The main character we follow in The Wolf Den is Amara, a woman who began life as a doctor's daughter in the town of Aphidnai in ancient Attica before tragedy struck and she was eventually sold into slavery and eventually forced to work in Pompeii's notable brothel. Amara, like nearly every other character we meet who has been sold into slavery, is forced to accept life as a slave in order to survive and have the faintest hope of achieving freedom one day, as unlikely as it may be. Amara is an incredible protagonist and a character that I really grew to admire over the course of the novel. This is a woman who has had everything taken from her, and even though much of her happiness has been taken as well, she held onto the smallest bit of hope and spirit that she could in order to keep herself motivated to keep going. Amara is one of those characters whose decisions I respected and who actually seemed to have a reasonable head on her shoulders. She was caring and warm to the other women and slaves around her, but also calculating and intelligent enough to make sure that she–and the other women–were kept as much out of harm's way as possible (which was near impossible, at times). Amara was constantly looking for ways to improve her station, as well as the station of those closest to her, and I really loved how genuine she felt in her sentiments towards others. In addition to Amara was a small cast of other women slaves at the brothel, as well as their pimp, Felix, and a smattering of other slaves, freedmen, and citizens that we meet along the course of the novel. I enjoyed getting to meet all of these other characters, both intriguing and repulsive alike, and I appreciate that the more 'villainous' characters, such as Felix, were not made to be completely black and white, but rather had his own forms of nuance in his life. I particularly loved seeing the camaraderie of the women and the friendships that developed among themselves at the brothel. I also enjoyed seeing the sense of connection that each slave had with the other, whether they knew them or not, in that they all felt the same loss of freedom, but held onto the slimmest hope for achieving something even slightly better than their current situation, even if it would never mean true freedom (a truly horrible idea to consider in reality). I appreciated how honest this book was about life as prostitute in ancient Rome and how it didn't shy away from any of the unfortunate realities of what these women (and men, in some cases) went through. This is a very graphic and difficult book in the sense that it tackles some very difficult topics and has some scenes that are hard to get through, but at the same time it wasn't overly graphic or vivid in describing some of the acts themselves, if that makes sense. There is nothing hidden, and the the discussions between characters are certainly graphic, but it's done so in a way that felt as though it was very clearly trying to mark what the experiences were like for the women and how little care or thought was given to them rather than spend time on scenes meant to titillate readers–everything was purposeful, nothing purely for entertainment or shock value, which was so refreshing. Harper's handling of the depiction of slavery was incredibly nuanced and well done. Slaves were not really treated as actual individual human beings, but rather as sentient objects meant to perform tasks for their slaveowners. Despite the fact that some slaves may have different roles or were treated "better" than others, at the end of the day Harper really hammers home the message that they were still slaves, kept against their will and not treated as a free, important human being. Even freedmen/freedwomen were often still bound by a multitude of inherent bindings and things to hold them back. A lot of books try to show that some masters of slaves were kind to their slaves or something along the lines of, "well the masters were kind to the slaves and treated them as family, so was it really that bad?" I can't say how much I loved the fact that Harper never seemed to go down this line of thought. As just mentioned, there were certainly depictions of slaves who were treated "better" than other, but it was never meant to be done in a more sympathetic or understanding light that took away from the suffering or lack of rights held by any of the slaves. This book is tragic, not just for the obvious reason of the slavery that is depicted, but in events that unfold and the ways in which friendships are affected throughout the story. You will grow attached to these characters and begin to see them as your friends and to root for them, so whenever something happens to them you will feel it deep in your heart as well. Although it's probably apparent that this book handles difficult topics by now, it does so in sincere, heartbreaking ways that were devastating to read and that still have me thinking about them. Harper's prose was also something that really caught my attention for its beautiful simplicity. She doesn't waste time on purple prose (not that purple prose is bad), but impart so much meaning, both beautiful and tragic, in the ways that Amara views the world around her and through her experiences as she does her best to survive the harsh world she is a part of. Also, this is a fairly large book, but it reads quickly. In fact, I was so captivated by this story and the characters that I read it in not only record time, but in such a focused way that I would actually genuinely lose track of time while reading–and that doesn't happen all that often for me anymore these days! There were also so many incredible themes and discussions explored in this book, one of which being the grey area around making one's life better and how that impacts those around them. In essence, you could say that every single character in this book moved forward in life with the goal of improving their situation in life, whether that was in the hopes of being freed from slavery, finding love anywhere they could, gaining more money, or simply gaining more power in any form. In the course of many of the characters who were slaves, some accepted their positions and looked for happiness where they could, whereas others decided to do whatever it would take to change their position, if possible. Of course, the difficulties arise when some people begin to gain higher status and must, unfortunately, eventually leave people behind. Those who are close will still want what's best for someone who is finally achieving better things in life, but at what cost will that happen, and who will be hurt in the rise to the top? Overall, I've given The Wolf Den five stars! The depiction of the way pimps worked, brothels, slavery, the buying and selling of women as entertainment props, etc. were all very true to the history I have studied, and I thought this story really brought everything to life in a vivid–if not devastating/heartbreaking–way. If you are a historical fiction fan or are simply looking for an incredibly compelling story with great characters, then I strongly urge you to pick up The Wolf Den.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Lydia (Readerofrivendell)

    Set in ancient Pompeii in a infamous brothel called the Wolf Den, we meet Amara a slave who longs for her freedom. Along with the other ‘she-wolves’ Amara wrestles with life in the brothel whilst also trying to salvage some power for her self. I absolutely adored this book! It is so heartbreaking, with often heart warming moments, and full of women trying to take control of their lives and who look after each other. There’s so much untold about women in the ancient world and this a stunning exam Set in ancient Pompeii in a infamous brothel called the Wolf Den, we meet Amara a slave who longs for her freedom. Along with the other ‘she-wolves’ Amara wrestles with life in the brothel whilst also trying to salvage some power for her self. I absolutely adored this book! It is so heartbreaking, with often heart warming moments, and full of women trying to take control of their lives and who look after each other. There’s so much untold about women in the ancient world and this a stunning example of a book done right. Set in Ancient Pompeii, you are instantly transported to this time period and you are sucked into the lives of the characters and their surroundings. The customs, festivals, routines of the prostitutes, everything was so well written and you are instantly drawn to Amara and the other women. The writing is well paced and flows beautifully. Amara’s strength of character, despite the brutal lives they live, shines through and you root for her throughout. I love the different characters and how the women, whilst there is some rivalry, look after each other. Each character is complex and has their own individuality and yet there is a sisterhood and it makes it all the more bitter sweet and rich to read about. A heart warming story about the power of female friendship and the determination to keep hope and identity alive, The Wolf Den an incredible read that gives back the identities of the men and women who lived under Mt Vesuvius' shadow and shines a light on their lives and the society they lived in. A stunning and vibrant tale of brutality, survival and hope, the Wolf Den is a must read!

  24. 5 out of 5

    Rebecca | Velvet Opus

    My (first-ever!) 💫 bookstagram review is up for this one! 👆 My (first-ever!) 💫 bookstagram review is up for this one! 👆

  25. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    Oh my god, this book.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Charlotte

    The Wolf Den is so immersive it is almost suffocating. I felt the heat of Pompeii’s streets, the bustle of the markets and the violence of its underbelly. Elodie Harper has crafted a truly beautiful depiction of female friendships against the backdrop of a dark and twisted historical fiction novel. Amara was a great protagonist to follow because of her sheer will and determination to never give up finding her freedom. However I wish we got to see the darker side of her that cropped up every now The Wolf Den is so immersive it is almost suffocating. I felt the heat of Pompeii’s streets, the bustle of the markets and the violence of its underbelly. Elodie Harper has crafted a truly beautiful depiction of female friendships against the backdrop of a dark and twisted historical fiction novel. Amara was a great protagonist to follow because of her sheer will and determination to never give up finding her freedom. However I wish we got to see the darker side of her that cropped up every now and again. For such a heavy and, at times, upsetting subject matter, Elodie Harper manages to tell a really captivating and intriguing story. I loved this! 4.5/5

  27. 5 out of 5

    Charlotte Murphy

    Despite the seemingly low-ish rating, I really enjoyed this book. It was let down mostly by the lack of any real major outcome or crescendo of the whole thing which leave its feeling a little unfinished? Even though everything is settled at the end, there was still a feeling of: what now? The Wolf Den follows Amara, a Greek who was sold by her mother to pay back debts and who is now a prostitute in Pompeii. She works in a brothel run by a less than honourable man named Felix and has a multitude o Despite the seemingly low-ish rating, I really enjoyed this book. It was let down mostly by the lack of any real major outcome or crescendo of the whole thing which leave its feeling a little unfinished? Even though everything is settled at the end, there was still a feeling of: what now? The Wolf Den follows Amara, a Greek who was sold by her mother to pay back debts and who is now a prostitute in Pompeii. She works in a brothel run by a less than honourable man named Felix and has a multitude of friends in the shape of the other prostitutes she lives with. Amara however is not as content with her lot in life as some of the other girls seem to be and instead, plots a way to get a patron - someone to like her enough to buy her or free her - so she can make a real life for herself. The back stories and realities of what the women face is so tragic and much to real for a lot of women in ancient times and even now. They have no voice, they are used and often abused by the men they service as well as the ones who own them and this doesnt even particularly stop if one is married. It was tragic and so sad to read what they have to endure which in itself is really emotional and a good read. Where I was left disappointed is that despite knowing what Amara's goal is, her run up to it leaves so many things left unsaid. Yes, this has happened but what about the others, what about her pimp, what is her life going to be like now? Despite the wrap up, I felt that more of the book could have been spent with the aftermath of her choices rather than just tittering up to it and throwing a shock factor death in the end. (view spoiler)[ Is that really how things end with Menander? Why do we never get to find out how terrible Rufus is so obviously going to be? What will happen to Felix and Victoria? Are Beronice and Gallus going to be caught out? Will Amara continue giving loans to people now that she is a woman of means, or atleast trying to be? What is going to happen to Paris and Fabia? (hide spoiler)] The fact that so much is just left undone, let it down for me and while the narrative was great - despite being in third/present which i hate lol - it just could have had so much more. I did however love the bonus content at the end of my edition that explains that the Lunapar/Wolf Den is a real place in Pompeii that you can visit and that the author took names that were graffitied on the wall to name her characters which adds a level of realism that makes it even sadder. I definitely recommend giving it a try but i just felt it could have been a touch more hard hitting!

  28. 5 out of 5

    Esme Carmichael

    Brutal, heart-breaking, and touching, The Wolf Den follows Amara - a woman who has been sold as a slave-prostitute to one of Pompeii's brothels - as she navigates the dangerous streets of Pompeii, her relationship with the other "she-wolves", and their cruel owner. This book is a unique read for me. Firstly it's historical fiction, which I rarely read, but I've always had a fascination with Pompeii and have been fortunate enough to walk around its ruins, including one of its brothels. A mixture Brutal, heart-breaking, and touching, The Wolf Den follows Amara - a woman who has been sold as a slave-prostitute to one of Pompeii's brothels - as she navigates the dangerous streets of Pompeii, her relationship with the other "she-wolves", and their cruel owner. This book is a unique read for me. Firstly it's historical fiction, which I rarely read, but I've always had a fascination with Pompeii and have been fortunate enough to walk around its ruins, including one of its brothels. A mixture of my experience visiting the ruined city, as well as Harper's immersive and highly detailed writing style, immediately pulled me into Amara's world with a sense of fascination and shock. And there's a lot to be shocked out: Harper does not shy away from the brutal reality of what life must have been like for a slave-prostitute in AD 74. The second reason why this book is a unique read is that it is completely character driven. For a large part of the novel, nothing much really happens. It simply follows Amara's day-to-day life as she navigates the plethora of dangers and sanctuaries, hopes and betrayals. Her relationships with the other women, especially Dido, were utterly heartwarming and - in some places - ripped my heart clean out. Even her relationship with their cruel owner, Felix, became layered with complexity. He's a truly vile character and Amara's rage is palpable, but the realities of her position means she's constantly on her toes, always watching and scheming. This makes The Wolf Den an incredibly tense read at times, simply because you have no idea what to expect from their interactions. I can certainly say I experienced the full emotional spectrum reading this, and Amara's (hopefully continuing) story will stick with me for a while.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Kayleigh (BookwormEscapes)

    Everyone needs this because it’s the best ancient historical fiction I’ve read since The Song Of Achilles! It’s as brutal as it is beautiful and all about WOMEN - their survival, friendship, oppression and empowerment amid the backdrop of Ancient Pompeii! 🧡 The story follows Amara, a Greek woman who is sold by her mother and enslaved in the Wolf Den - an infamous brothel in the city of Pompeii. We follow her and the other women’s experiences over the course of a turbulent year. If you’re a fan of Everyone needs this because it’s the best ancient historical fiction I’ve read since The Song Of Achilles! It’s as brutal as it is beautiful and all about WOMEN - their survival, friendship, oppression and empowerment amid the backdrop of Ancient Pompeii! 🧡 The story follows Amara, a Greek woman who is sold by her mother and enslaved in the Wolf Den - an infamous brothel in the city of Pompeii. We follow her and the other women’s experiences over the course of a turbulent year. If you’re a fan of the whole feminist Greek Mythology explosion happening right now you will LOVE THIS! I can’t thank Jade at @headofzeus enough for sending me an early copy to review. I’ll be buying a finished hardback the second it releases this Thursday! @elodielharper has written such a spellbinding and compassionate story, which handles the tragedies these women face with real sensitivity. The focus is absolutely on their strength, hope and survival!

  30. 4 out of 5

    Holly

    When you cannot make your own choices, what good is wanting anything, or anyone? This was a beautifully written and deeply disturbing story, imagining what it would be like to be one of the women forced to work in the brothels of Pompeii. Amara used to be a doctor's daughter. She had a family and a life. That was before her father died and there was no money left. Sold into slavery she is bought by the owner of the Wolf Den in Pompeii, forced to give up her body night after night and endure endles When you cannot make your own choices, what good is wanting anything, or anyone? This was a beautifully written and deeply disturbing story, imagining what it would be like to be one of the women forced to work in the brothels of Pompeii. Amara used to be a doctor's daughter. She had a family and a life. That was before her father died and there was no money left. Sold into slavery she is bought by the owner of the Wolf Den in Pompeii, forced to give up her body night after night and endure endless cruelty. It's impossible not to like Amara and all of the other women who are so important to her. They all have such distinctive personalities. From proud, beautiful Victoria to kind Cressa and deeply sad Dido, they look out for one another because nobody else will. They walk the streets of the city, knowing that the few moments of freedom they have are nothing. They will never truly be free, because even though slaves can buy their freedom, they will never earn enough to do so. And yet they manage to laugh, to convince one another to survive each day. Some of the girls never had a life before, but Amara and Dido both mourn the lives they left behind and the people they used to be. “You try to keep it inside, don’t you, all the different parts of yourself, but they don’t exist anymore.” The author confronts the violence directly and it is laid out in sharp detail. Women are beaten, raped and emotionally abused, and there is little they can do to stop it. Even though it hurt to read, I am glad it wasn't glossed over. Acknowledging that this was what women had to endure is a part of our history. I do think that readers need to be in the right place to read this though. You know this book isn't going to have a happy ending. How can it. I often felt sick with dread while reading it because I had no idea how it would end, and I wished there was something I could do to protect all of the characters. For all I enjoyed the book, there was a moment where it was mentioned that two characters were speaking Spanish, and I was really pulled out of the story. It didn't make sense to me, as Spanish developed from when Latin was brought to the country. So surely at the same time as the book takes place, Spanish as a language would not have existed? For all I speak it, I know embarrassingly little about its history, so I could be wrong. But this small detail really distracted me from the story. Overall, this was extremely well written. I don't know that I can say I enjoyed it, given the subject. But I cared so much about the characters, and it will stay with me for a long time. Trigger warnings (which contain possible spoilers): Rape, physical and emotional abuse, slavery, suicide, abortion, unwanted pregnancy, murder. I received an ARC of this book thanks to NetGalley and the publishers, and am leaving this review voluntarily.

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