A Day of Fire: A Novel of Pompeii

Written by Ben Kane E. Knight Kate Quinn Sophie Perinot Stephanie Dray Vicky Alvear Shecter
Review by Janis Pegrum Smith

I was suspicious of this book when I first picked it up; with six writers boldly credited on the cover my initial thoughts were: “this is going to be six mediocre, wannabe writers who have clubbed together to get a book out” – I could not have been wider off the mark if I tried. The six writers are all extremely accomplished, skilled and knowledgeable in both their writing and specialist knowledge. The concept of A Day of Fire is original and ingenious. The six writers each provide what could be looked upon as a short story; each of these ‘short stories’ is one character’s insight into the fateful day of Pompeii’s destruction. Nothing original in that really, I can hear you say, but the originality lies in the extremely smooth and professional way it has been done. On one level, it is a set of individual short stories, but within each story the main characters from the other tales intermingle and are there as supporting characters. Beyond this beautiful bit of interplay, the book is also a novel in its own right as the timeline is carried through each work to give you one seamless book about the last day of Pompeii. There is no loss of flow as each writer takes up the baton in this literary relay. The attention to historic detail is superb, with the Pompeii relics and the most up-to-date interpretation, being used as a springboard for each biographic tale.

An extremely well-written read and one I would highly recommend.