By Adele Leigh
The story of a speculative Ancient Rome told from the perspective of the oppressed. The heroine is Matt-Lin, a rebellious 14-year-old girl enslaved by the republic’s preeminent brothel, the Lupanarium. She proves to be a surly and disobedient prostitute, incapable or unwilling to please her clients. The hero is Jak, the world’s most profitable male sex slave and gladiator, bred hundreds of times, but never permitted to be a father. Jak begins to mentor Matt-Lin when he sees qualities in her that he would want in a child of his own. She proves unwilling to submit to slavery, however, as she vigilantly seeks a way to escape, putting her life, and his, in danger.
The book is socially relevant, examining topics like rape culture, human trafﬁcking, and misogyny. Many of the storylines are influenced by porn and modern sex slavery but subverted to be from the point of view of the victim. Adele Leigh gives agency to characters that have none and sheds a scathing and satirical light on those who abuse their power. Despite the dark subject matter, the book is always one of survival and hope, while exemplifying the healing nature of friendship, family, and love. The Lupanarium is the first book in The Many Trials of Matt-Lin and Jak, a series about a relationship built in brutal times.
Graphic Content Warning: This book is for ages 18 + due to its depictions of rape and sexual assault.