Fever is a time travel novel in which the stories of an enslaved gladiator in AD 152 and a girl living in AD 2012 become inextricably linked. The narrative starts with the troubled Eva; unhappy at home and in trouble at school, she finally gets excluded for hacking into the school computer system and starts to look for something else to do. The only subject she’s really interested in is science and whilst trawling the internet she finds St Magdalene’s School in London which specialises in science. It is also built on a Roman burial site. Eva applies and wins a scholarship place.
In Londinium, Sethos Leontis is in the arena practising for his next appearance when he spots a girl, Livia, in the audience and feels an immediate connection to her. He is a well-known gladiator, admired by women and men alike, but in the subsequent fight he is badly injured and soon finds himself in the house of the adopted Livia, taken there because her mother desires him. He and Livia grow close but Sethos discovers that she is to be given in marriage to a wealthy and powerful man; their plan to run away together then ends tragically with their death. In London, Eva is in a perilous state in hospital with an unknown virus. Sethos then finds himself in Parallon, a parallel modern London, where everyone who has died from the same virus is living, and soon the two stories collide.
I enjoyed this book because of the strong characters and, importantly for me, the fact that Dee Shulman doesn’t simply rely on magic for this union. A deadly virus somehow makes the premise of slipping between the Roman world, a world of the living dead and the 2012 world more believable.