The Eternal City, by Paula Morris--mythological mayhem in Rome for tweens

The Eternal City, by Paula Morris (Point, May 2015, upper middle grade/lower YA)

Laura is an ordinary American student visiting Rome, until war between the ancient Roman gods breaks out, and she's right in the middle of it.  Things start going strange gradually--ancient works of art coming to brief life, crows behaving strangely, and a manhole cover trying to eat her.  Then her classmates are almost all struck down with a mysterious illness, and a volcano erupts, showering Rome with Ash!  Mercury appears, telling Laura that she's in possession of two stones that are the Eyes of Athena... but he doesn't really offer helpful advice on what the heck she's supposed to do with them before Rome is destroyed.

In a panic stricken city, Laura and a handful of other foreign teens who have escaped the sickness try to figure their way through an ancient Rome coming to life...

On the plus side, this is a very tween friendly book, especially for an 11 or 12 year old girl--there's enough of a nod toward teen romance to please a reader who hasn't really gotten into the heart of the YA section, but it stays very tame.   It's also one that will appeal to those who insatiably devour stories of modern kids getting entangled with classical mythology, although they might be disappointed by the distance the gods themselves keep from the goings on the ground.   The descriptions of Rome and the magic filling its streets are very nicely done (and the ideal reader would be a tween about to travel there), but unfortunately, the story itself never ended up making much sense to me. Laura seemed just a random happenstance to the larger mythological goings on, and on top of that, she didn't have much agency, sort of drifting from one excitement to the next (and in the book's favor, there were lots of these, nicely paced) without much reason behind it.

Not a bad read, but not as good as I'd hoped it would be based on the description.

disclaimer: review copy received from the publisher


  1. Ditto. Liked the Rome setting, but Gonzalez's Moving Target made a bit more sense. This had more of the YA whininess, too.

  2. Sounds like not for me. I prefer books with a more active protag.

  3. I like Percy Jackson, so I think I'll try this one. Thanks for the review!


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