Book Review: The Secret History by Stephanie Thornton

The Secret History: A Novel of Empress Theodora - Stephanie  Thornton

In terms of novels and books about the Roman Empire, the Eastern Empire often gets the short end of the stick. I can confess to knowing nothing more about Emperor Justinian and Empress Theodora than the fact that they were memorialized in mosaic (learned about in my high school art history class). However, Theodora seems to be the new “IT” girl lately and I was excited to read something more about this portion of the Roman Empire. Plus, isn’t the cover just absolutely gorgeous?! I don’t even mind that we don’t see her face because it is beautiful and different that the seemingly cut and paste style covers lately.


What is there not to love about Theodora? I dare anyone of you who reads this to not fall in love with her. She is tough, smart, politically minded, and demanding. She makes something of herself to rise up from the gutter. She is sassy and fun. A heroine that we have been lacking in HF lately, in my opinion. The other characters were awesome as well. They all had so many different qualities to them and were very real characters. Even more, I loved the dynamics between the characters. Theodora and Justinian had some great sparring matches, each trying to outwit the other. Whether dealing with other women from the lower class or engaging with the courtiers, she always came out verbally on top.


The setting of the novel was so atmospheric I could sense the world around me – the sights, smells, and sounds. I can truly say that I have a solid concept of the Eastern Empire now and can tell the marked differences between it and the old Western Empire.


The only thing that I could conceivably complain about was the jump between the last two sections of time – I obviously wanted more of it and would have liked to know a little more about the later aspects of her life. Even at 448 pages I wanted more! I would recommend this novel to any historical fiction fan. If you have liked the works of Kate Quinn and Michelle Moran (both of which were set in the Ancient World) you will love this novel!


This is author Stephanie Thornton’s debut novel. You can visit the author’s website and blog for additional information about the book. If you would like to preview the story before reading it, why not try out this excerpt of the book?


Also, I currently have a giveaway of this book running over at the blog page - follow the source link below!  Open internationally until July 14th!