About the book
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.
The Wolf Den was probably my most anticipated read of 2021. Nuanced, impactful, and captivating, this book is now among my favourite reads full stop. Elodie Harper puts Pompeii’s brothel under a microscope and breathes life and agency into the women who were stripped of it. Amara, once a doctor’s daughter from Greece, had her homeland, family, and identity ripped from her. Now a prostitute enslaved in the Lupanar of Pompeii, she uses her wits and sheer force of will to fight for a chance at autonomy.
Elodie Harper’s voice is sharp and unique, making the ancient world relatable to modern readers while keeping us immersed in the sights and sounds of AD 74 Pompeii. I loved the affinity and unshakeable bond between the women in the Wolf Den. It was interesting to see the flip in Amara’s language between her interactions with the other women at the brothel and with her ‘upper class’ clients. The dialogue between Amara and her friends swings between poignant and humorous. It often had me laughing out loud, but some parts were so deeply sad and affecting that I had to put the book down and take a breather. The book is both subtle and unflinching; no character, including the antagonist, is without layers. At the same time, the trauma and emotional impact of the women’s circumstances are illustrated without sugar-coating or glamorisation.
The Wolf Den tears away our desensitised attitudes towards the horrors of the ancient world. There’s no longer a disconnect from reality, no longer a feeling of ‘that’s just how things were back then.’ It’s a book that opens us to the experiences and emotions of people who were seen as the dregs of society – a book that keeps us submerged in its world long after we’ve left it.
Thank you so much to Head of Zeus and Elodie Harper for having me on The Wolf Den’s blog tour!
Elodie Harper is a journalist and prize-winning short story writer. Her story ‘Wild Swimming’ won the 2016 Bazaar of Bad Dreams short story competition, which was judged by Stephen King. She is currently a reporter and presenter at ITV News Anglia, and before that worked as a producer for Channel 4 News.
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