Saturday, March 2, 2013

Theodosia and the Serpents of Chaos... Egyptian Artifacts and All That Cool Stuff

I've always enjoyed a good story of museums, Egyptian artifacts and curse mayhem. In high school, I spent my senior internship at the Cleveland Art Museum under a graphic designer. Even cooler than being behind the scenes at the museum, (it's as fun as you think it is,) was when the graphic designer arranged for me to spend a few weeks under the Assistant Near Eastern Curator (read: Egyptian.) Not only did he have the coolest assortment of books piled in every nook and cranny of his office, but he actually encouraged me to start learning hieroglyphs. He even loaned me his Middle Egyptian textbook and set me up with a photograph of one of the sarcophagus covers to translate. I'll admit it was a tall order. In the end, I managed mostly to decode a copy of words on the sarcophagus and learn a lot about the grammatical structure of hieroglyphs, (which is strangely enough, a bit like Japanese.) But when it was all over, it didn't matter that I hadn't been able to translate the artifact. The mystery surrounding it just made it seem even cooler.

I had that same feeling when I read Theodosia and the Serpent of Chaos by R.L. Lafevers. It took me awhile to get into this one, but once I did, I really enjoyed it. Theodosia is the daughter of two curator/archeologists for the British Museum of Legends and Antiquities, circa pre-world war one. Theodosia practically lives at the museum, due to her parents odd hours. They have a tendency to get wrapped up in their work and forget about her completely. This is just fine with Theo, who spends most of her time ridding the museum artifacts of their array of curses.

She has her hands full most of the time, her mother bringing back artifacts from Egyptian tombs that positively reek of evil magic. What's worse, Theo is always worried that the curses might infect her parents, who rarely wear gloves. Things get even worse when Theo's mother comes back from a dig with the Heart of Egypt, a particularly cursed object. The artifact turns out to have the ability to bring plague and pestilence down on all of Britain if Theo doesn't step in. The only problem is that she's not the only one after the Heart of Egypt. There are also a suspicious trio of Germans in hot pursuit of the artifact.

I really loved how everything pulled together at the end. Lafevers created an interesting cast of characters that I'm sure come up again in future books, as this is a series. Theo is a plucky heroine, unique for the time period the book is set in, I think this makes her even more likable.  If you have girls interested in art, boys interested in curses or even adults interested in another explanation behind World War One, I would recommend this book to any of them. I don't think you ever get too old for an Egyptian curse mystery. Has anyone else read any good books lately?


  1. This sounds like a good book. Recently I read something out of my comfort zone. A World War II book called Ordinary Heroes by Scott Turow. It was quite good.

  2. Sounds like an awesome read.

    There are so many good books, my head just swims trying to keep up!

  3. I love Egyptian history...actually, I have a novel written set in ancient Egypt, but it's sitting on my computer...for now. Sounds like a great read.

  4. I'll have to check that one out, Kelley. Miranda I'd be interested to hear more about your novel set in ancient Egypt. What level did you write it for? YA, MG, Adult? I attempted to write a YA short story set in Ancient Egypt, and it, ahem... bombed a bit.