Enslaved in a World of Money and Power, Tessa Dares to be Free.
Raised as courtesan to wealthy and powerful men, Tessa of Delos serves at the whim of her current patron, the politician Glaucus. After ten years with him, Tessa has abandoned all desire for freedom or love, choosing instead to lock her heart away.
But when Glaucus meets a violent death in his own home, Tessa grasps at a fragile hope. Only she knows of his death. If she can keep it a secret long enough, she can escape.
Tessa throws herself on the mercy of the Greek god Helios, but finds instead unlikely allies in Nikos, a Greek slave, and Simeon, Glaucus’s Jewish head servant. As Simeon introduces her to a God unlike any she has ever known and Nikos begins to stir feelings she had thought long dead, Tessa fights to keep her heart protected.
As an assassination plot comes to light, Tessa must battle for her own freedom—and for those to whom she has begun to open her heart—as forces collide that shatter the island’s peace.
The first thing to mention is that this is a revision of Higley’s first historical novel, Shadow of Colossus, which was released a number of years ago. Lucky for me, I had this book but hadn’t actually read it. (It’s a sad case of too many books, too little time!) This meant that the story was new to me, but I could compare the two versions and yes, there are differences. The plot, however, is the same so if you’ve read Shadow of Colossus, you’re set. This review is from someone who had not read it.
Tessa is surrounded by luxury and well-versed in Greek and Rhodian politics. She is one of the few women allowed to participate in the men’s symposia (drinking parties where politics was often discussed) and her opinions were treated with respect. But for all this, there is a catch. She is a highly trained courtesan. She is owned by Glaucus, a wealthy politician. In short, she is not free and, at the start of this story we find her planning to take her own life. Instead, a series of events means she might obtain freedom, if she isn’t executed first. But is there another type of freedom awaiting her?
Isle of Shadows gives the reader an interesting glimpse into Grecian social structure and the politics of the times. Tessa is highly respected by the important men of the city, but they also dream of possessing her. When Glaucus dies, Tessa knows she will be sold to the next in line. Servants in Glaucus’ household accept orders from her, but Glaucus’ wife, Daphne, detests her. It is an era where politicians jostle for power, often resorting to murder in order to achieve it. No one can trust anyone and not even Nikos is what he seems. All the while, the reader knows the day of catastrophe is coming; the day of the earthquake that toppled the great Colossus of Rhodes.
This is a book I highly enjoyed. It kept me enthralled to the end as I wondered which would come first, the earthquake or the expected happy ending. The one downside, if it can be called that, is the amount of Grecian terms Higley includes in the narrative. They don’t interrupt the flow, and they aren’t followed by the disjointed inclusion of the English translation as some authors are prone to do. A glossary of Ancient Greek is included, but it is not as easy to continually access in an e-book as in a regular book.
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Publication Date: 13 November 2012
Page Count: 384
Thank you to Thomas Nelson and Tracy Higley for the free download of Isle of Shadows, which I received in exchange for an honest review.