BooksForKidsBlog

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Secrets of the Pyramids: The Last Pharoah by R. L. LeFevers

Mother stared at me for a long moment. "Your grandmother is right. You are a peculiar child."

Her words stung me to the quick. Peculiar? Peculiar!

All the joy and promise of this trip evaporated. One part of me longed to explain the true reasons I acted so peculiar, but I didn't think the true reasons would make her feel any better. In fact, she would most likely ship me off to a sanatorium if she knew that I spent most of my time removing black magic and ancient curses from rare and powerful artifacts in the Museum of Legends and Antiquities that my parents oversaw back in London. Or that I spent quite a lot of energy avoiding secret societies that would love to get their hands on those artifacts and use them for their own evil ends. No, Mother wouldn't consider those reasons any less peculiar.

No, mother doesn't know the half of it, and Theodosia Throckmorton, with the powerful Orb of Ra in her Victorian reticule and the Emerald Tablet concealed in her smuggled cat 's basket, is on a mission for the Keepers of the Secrets to return those magical objects to her Egyptian allies, webjedin. Undercover as a demure eleven-year-old, Theodosia knows she must return the sacred relics, long held in England, without letting them fall into the hands of the Serpents of Chaos, all the while keeping these midnight activities a secret from her mother, who has only grudgingly brought her along to Egypt to help discover the tomb of Thutmose III.

Theodosia has long sensed that she somehow has the power to sense the hekau, ancient magical powers and curses left behind by the gods of Egypt, and once in Cairo her senses are almost overwhelmed by the miasma of these forces all around her. Still, she find allies in the form of Major Grindle, a British officer who is also a clandestine Keeper of the Secrets, and Hadji, a donkey boy who himself seems to have an aura of power despite his rags and small size.

Despite her best efforts, however, Theodosia finds herself falling into the hands of the henchmen of Chaos, and then her mother and Hadji, whom the Keepers and the Serpents of Chaos believe is the last and future Pharoah of a liberated Egypt, are also kidnapped and held for an unthinkable ransom, a price which only Theodosia can pay.

R. L. LeFevers' Theodosia and the Last Pharaoh (The Theodosia Series) (Houghton Mifflin, 2011), the fourth book in the notable Theodosia Series, proves to be the most engrossing adventure yet. Set in a turn-of-the-century Egypt awash in its own anticolonialist chaos, this episode has plenty of atmosphere as Theodosia transcends the restraints upon young girls of the period in midnight missions among the pyramids to foil skullduggerous villains, including the ever-reincarnated villain Braggenschnott and his minions of doom, the secret society of Chaos, which seeks to turn the powers of ancient Egypt into their own evil ends. Theodosia understands that she has a role to play and bravely uses her own developing powers in an atmospheric adventure story which will keep readers riveted to the page.

Despite its place as fourth in the series, this novel easily stands alone. In the hands of master storyteller LeFevers, Theodosia matures, growing in the recognition of her own powers and in her growing understanding that she is indeed a Rekhet, a descendant of the magical seer priestesses of ancient Egypt and that her peculiarity is no quirk of nature, but a magical bequest descended to her through her little-known grandfather. And we sense that with her now-understood true nature, Theodosia will return to the eternal struggle between the powers of good and evil with renewed powers in the next volume.

Fans of Rick Riordan's Percy Jackson and the Olympians and his Egypt-centered The Kane Chronicles will find Theodosia and the Last Pharaoh (The Theodosia Series) familiar fantasy adventure territory.

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