Vita and the Gladiator by Ally Sherrick

Published by Chicken House, 2023.

Vita and the Gladiator is children’s historical fiction at its finest. The story is exciting and immersive – brilliantly transporting the reader to Roman London and the grisly, blood-thirsty world of the gladiators’ arena.

14-year-old Vita longs to write plays and poetry but, as a high-born girl in Roman Londinium, her fate is sealed: marriage and children. Then her father is murdered, her mother and brother disappear, and Vita is captured. Mistaken for a slave, she is sold to the gladiators’ arena and finds herself sharing a cell with a fierce gladiator, Brea, and her wolf. With both of them seeking justice for the wrongs in their past, they forge an unlikely bond.

The story is full of intrigue and treachery; it’s difficult for Vita to know who to trust. The historical detail is excellent and really brings this period of British history alive for the reader. The fight scenes, in particular, are impressively realised. It’s as if we’re inside the arena ourselves: the baying crowd, the heightened tension and the sheer danger of it all.

I absolutely loved Vita and Brea: two courageous and quick-witted female leads. The cast of unscrupulous, dishonourable characters of the city’s dark underworld were excellent too.

The book powerfully explores the importance of fighting for justice and considers how different people interpret justice in different ways.

Rating: 💙💙💙💙

Suitable for children aged 8+

Thank you to Chicken House for sending me this book to review.

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