Thursday, April 27, 2017

Book Review: Feast of Sorrow by Crystal King

First line: Marcus Gavius Apicius purchased me on a day hot enough to fry sausage on the market stones.

I read this 400+ page book in about 72 hours and I loved every page. It's old school fun: great characters, fabulous sense of place, evocative detail, drama in spades, and satisfying emotional peaks and dips.

The novel's narrator is Thrasius, a young slave gifted in cooking. He's purchased by Apicius, an immensely wealthy Roman determined to use his fortune, fabulous parties, and appreciation of exquisite cuisine to gain power with Caeser and his heirs.

Thankfully, Thrasius' reputation isn't exaggerated, and his skill and imagination in the kitchen -- combined with the rare, unusual, and expensive ingredients Apicius buys -- launches them both -- but also pulls them into a terrible rivalry that ends in unimaginable tragedy.

If you're not familiar with Apicius, don't wiki him; just enjoy King's revealing of his life. As I said on social media more than once, I was dubious there would be anything really sorrowful or dramatic about the life of a chef and his gourmand, but whooboy, was I wrong! Who knew that being Caeser's culinary advisor would be so fraught? (Actually, I should of known. Those Romans, everything is so.serious.)

Everything about this book captivated me. Thrasius is a wonderful narrator, and every character, down to the tertiary ones, are vibrantly rendered. The villains are breathlessly appalling (again, the Romans know how to double down on evil!) and King renders the many tragedies so well, I went through about three tissues as the book wound down.

This was just a fabulous read -- a top ten for 2017.

Title: Feast of Sorrow
Author: Crystal King

Genre: Fiction (Historical / Ancient Rome / 20s C.E. / Historical Figures Fictionalized / Cooking / Political Intrigue / Friendship)
Publisher/Publication Date: Touchstone (4/25/2017)
Source: The publisher
Reading Challenges: Historical Fiction


  1. Reading about ancient Rome really appeals to me, as do books about cooking. I am putting this one on my reading list!

    1. I hope you love it when you get to it!

  2. I just reviewed this book myself

  3. Oooh, I haven't read about Rome since finishing the Marcus Didius Falco series! Maybe I'll dip back into it with this one :-)

    1. Ooooh, do, do -- this one was soooo good. I hope you love it!