I was not very impressed with Nefertiti and the follow-up book The Heretic Queen disappointed me even more. While the first half of Nefertiti was largely disappointing, The Heretic Queen suffered from it from start to finish. This novel suffered terribly from first-person point of view. Nefertiti was also first-person but it was Nefertiti's sister, which gave some much-needed distance.
First of all the book, much like it's counterpart Nefertiti, did not capture the essence of Ancient Egypt. Sure you can use Egyptian words and talk about customs but there was too much telling and not enough showing. Remove the few Egyptian words, mentions of cities etc. and you could easily be confused by where in time you find yourself and what family is experiencing so much drama. Actual historical events may have helped the book but they were largely left to the last quarter of the book and felt forced.
Overall the focus of the book is not historical in nature but romantic in nature, not exactly what you think you are getting yourself into. The book is one long-suffering love affair. It begins with Nefertari pining over Ramesses, then spending a year grooming herself to attract him and then getting him and being upset about not being named Chief Wife. Oh the drama. It felt like a lowly version of The Other Boleyn Girl, except ALL the focus is on the whining and pining and baby making. The book focuses on two sets of women, Nefertari and her "groomer" and Iset and her "groomer". The groomers happen to be sisters, upping the drama. The book is one long cat fight that I just did not want to "watch". Palace intrigue does not equal historical fiction unless you really back it up Moran.
The characters are also one-dimensional and much too obsessed with child bearing. I was very tired of them saying things like "what woman does NOT want a child?!?!" like it was the worst conceivable idea. On the child note, the book largely felt like a YA novel but then BAM you would be reading a sex scene. An awkward feeling sex scene leaving you wondering what the hell just happened after each time. Ramesses is simply the male place-holder and love object rather than a famous Egyptian Pharaoh. The entire book felt demeaning to women and men AND history.
If you are looking for palace intrigue, romance and little depth then you may enjoy The Heretic Queen. However, if you are looking for well-written historical fiction that actually focuses on history you will not find it here. As shown by the historical note, Moran took a lot of liberty with the history of the time and could hardly be considered accurate. Ancient Egypt simply suffers at the hand of Moran and I think it is best they stay separated.