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THE PHARAOH’S SECRET by Marissa Moss

THE PHARAOH’S SECRET

By Marissa Moss

Age Range: 10 - 14

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 2009
ISBN: 978-0-8109-8378-6
Publisher: Abrams

There’s no reason an author can’t step away from a successful formula to try something new. This time, however, the experiment doesn’t pay off. Moss, author/illustrator of the highly graphic Amelia series, mixes historical intrigue, family issues and a brief episode of time travel, but the disparate elements never quite jell in this full-length, lightly illustrated novel. Talibah, 14, is visiting Egypt with her widowed father and younger brother. Immediately odd visions plague her and mysterious figures press unusual gifts into her hands. Convinced that a long-dead (female) pharaoh seeks help in locating her lost love, Talibah follows physical clues and vague hints to determine what became of the ancient architect Senenmut. With her brother Adom’s help she solves the mystery, provoking a deadly attack and reconciling with her grieving father. The author’s interests in Egyptian history and in exploring the impact of the loss of a parent is made clear in a concluding note. Unfortunately, the first-person narration varies from stilted to overly adult and never quite brings Talibah to life, a flaw that the busy plot just can’t overcome. Disappointing. (Fantasy. 10-14)