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Good Mystery/Adventure; Excellent Historical Setting
on 21 January 2015
This book offers better than average characters and a decent, reasonably well plotted and well paced mystery/adventure, but where it truly excels is in its ancient Egyptian setting.
I suspect that most middle graders have had enough of the Victorian era, or at least would be intrigued by something different. There are some interesting medieval-ish swordplay stories out there, and some interesting work set in a Native American context, or the Civil War or Revolutionary Eras, but after that the historical, not to mention foreign, venues get pretty thin. (To digress, I'm a little unnerved that the World War II, fifties and even sixties eras I actually know are starting to drift into what kids today would consider historical.)
This book nails time and place. We have a pre-Christian time and fabulous and romantic New Kingdom Egypt. Scott Peters has written other works for kids that explore ancient Egypt, (and mummies!), and he has seamlessly drawn all of that scholarship into the sights, sounds, colors, and feel of his Zet mysteries. The history and description isn't ladled on or weighed down by tedious exposition but rather is introduced subtly and naturally in the context of the telling of the adventure story.
As a consequence we get two kids, a brother and sister team, who are relatable and appealing and yet clearly of their time and circumstance. This is all presented in broad brushstrokes, (I wouldn't use this book as a research authority), which keeps it interesting and entertaining even while it is informative in a general and impressionistic way. The fact that there is a mystery, a theft, a conspiracy, and loads of chases just keeps the excitement and interest level high all of the way through to the satisfying conclusion.
So, a very happy and rewarding find with a lot of middle grade reader appeal. A very nice book to recommend.
Please note that I found this book while browsing Amazon Kindle freebies. I have no connection at all to either the author or the publisher of this book.