I know that Curses and Smoke by Vicky Alvear Schecter isn’t a very popular book, but I did enjoy reading it and I have many thoughts. I didn’t really get into the book until about page 180, but that was because of personal preference and not book quality. The book was set in ancient Pompeii right before the volcano erupted. It followed Tages, who is a slave, and Lucia, who is the daughter of the man who owns Tag. Lucia is about to be married off away but falls in love with Tag a few weeks before her wedding. While the book was set on love (the back cover has love in bold letters), I didn’t really feel too much romance in the story. The conflict was because of love, but the story had much more to it.
The following will go into details about my feelings on specific subjects. Do not read if you don’t want to be spoiled:
So as I mentioned above, I didn’t really get into the book until about page 180. Because of this, most of the things that stuck out to me were near the end of the book. The action towards the end of the book really caught my attention. To get an idea of how I read this: pages 0-180 were read in a week, pages 180-whenever the end was too less than 24 hours. I read like this sometimes and it can really mess up my veiw of the book.
By the end of the book, I had a lot of emotions attached to various characters. Reading the book over a long period of time also helped with this. I feel like Quintus really got a bad rap most of the time. He was simply uneducated in the feeling of empathy. Nobody really tried to help him understand why he was hated so much. If everyone else would’ve just given him a chance, he would’ve been much more likeable to everyone. Quintus was trying to be better, he just wasn’t sure how to be. Castor was adorable. I didn’t really feel a connection to him until the very end of the book when he starts to call Tag “Apa” and was being completely adorably about it. It felt like while Tag had lost a father, he also became one and that was very important. Speaking of Tag’s father, I didn’t really feel a connection to him. He and Metrodona were just characters that felt added in. Yes, they had an important role in creating the conflict of Lucia and Tag’s love, but the weren’t ever really around. A few more scenes with them would’ve been nice.
I especially like the little parts above some to chapters that said things like “two weeks before” or “two hours before”. They were obviously meant to lead the reader to believe they were counting down to the explosion of the mountain, and I bought it. I had slight suspicions on them when reading, but couldn’t come up with any other solutions so I just accepted them as they went. I didn’t expect it to be leading up to Lucia dying at all! If I could’ve guess for either Lucia or Tag to die, I would’ve said Tag. He cared for the well being of other people so much that he could’ve died protecting Lucia, not the other way around. I was ready for people to die (because, you know, Pomeii was a city buried alive) but I didn’t expect it to happens he way it did at all.
So yeah, it was fun. What were your thoughts on the book? I would to love what other people thought and keep the discussion going. Who knows, maybe my opinions will change!