Title: Priestess of the Nile
Author: Veronica Scott
Publisher: Carina Press
Publication Date: January 16, 2012
Rating: 3 out of 5
This is a very short novella (about 21,000 words) set in Ancient Egypt. While it’s a lovely story that I very much enjoyed, the romance fell a bit flat for me, probably because the length of the novella prohibited much character development. That said, I absolutely loved the Egyptian setting and was drawn in almost at once by the detail.
Merys is the great-granddaughter of a priestess of the Crocodile god, Sobek, and is fishing on the shore of the Nile near the god’s abandoned temple when a handsome stranger approaches. He introduces himself as Bek, but he’s actually the Crocodile god Sobek in the flesh. Sobek is fascinated by the charmingly innocent Merys, but he knows that the gods are not allowed relationships with mortal women. Despite this, he finds himself falling for the young woman and begins searching for a way for the two to be together.
There’s much to like about this novella, particularly its setting. Ms. Scott does an amazing job of immersing the reader in the culture and surroundings of Ancient Egypt without bogging you down in excessive details. The political organization of Egypt plays an important role in how the story unfolds in ways that I didn’t expect but very much enjoyed. I’m not at all conversant with Egyptian history, but the novella comes across as very well researched, and I like benefiting from that research in such a pleasant manner.
Because the novella is so short, there’s little time to develop the characters of Merys and Sobek adequately, which is why the romance suffers a bit, I think. Merys is portrayed as an innocent Cinderella type, forced to work as a servant for her evil stepmother, but we don’t learn much about her beyond that. Sobek begins as an arrogant god but soon becomes all too human in his dealings with Merys, which is forbidden for the gods of this pantheon. I feel like I would have enjoyed the romance between Sobek and Merys a bit more if we could have spent more time with the two of them together. I also would have liked to see Sobek’s personality changes develop slowly, but, again, the length of the text prohibits this.
Frankly, this was a quick read with a refreshing setting, and I would like to see more of Ms. Scott’s work because of how well she incorporated the setting and her research. I feel that this novella was very successful as a story that draws a reader in, but the romance needed a little bit more development.