It is A.D. 79. The Roman world is reeling from the eruption of Mount Vesuvius. Hundreds of refugees are living in a makeshift camp, trying to come to terms with what has happened. Then even more tragedy strikes: the camp's children begin to disappear. Flavia Gemina and her friends Jonathan, Nubia, and Lupus are determined to find out more and start to investigate a powerful and charismatic man known as the Patron. A dangerous trail leads them to the caves and grottoes of Sorrento, where they encounter pirates, slave dealers, and possible death.
"As in the series' previous titles, Lawrence combines vivid period details and graceful imagery with a thrilling pace and some gory action scenes, always portraying Flavia and her friends as well-drawn young people whose playfulness, jealousies, outrage, and courage will resonate with contemporary readers. Additional themes of slavery and class issues add depth to the plot." (Booklist)
"Woven into the mystery are problems and issues of Roman life such as the abusive treatment of slaves and the class structure of the patron/client system. The search for the missing children is fast paced and in several instances peril seems imminent. Newcomers to the series may be a little confused by this one but fans will enjoy it." (School Library Journal)
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