72. Theodosia & the Serpents of Chaos by R.L. LaFever
Publication: Houghton Mifflin Books for Children (April 9, 2007), Hardback, 343pp / ISBN 0618756388
Genre: Children’s/MG, Horror, Thriller, Mystery
Read: March 22-23, 2010
Summary from Amazon:
Theodosia Throckmorton has her hands full at the Museum of Legends and Antiquities in London. Her father may be head curator, but it is Theo—and only Theo—who is able to see all the black magic and ancient curses that still cling to the artifacts in the museum.
When Theo’s mother returns from her latest archaeological dig bearing the Heart of Egypt—a legendary amulet belonging to an ancient tomb—Theo learns that it comes inscribed with a curse so black and vile that it threatens to crumble the British Empire from within and start a war too terrible to imagine. Intent on returning the malevolent artifact to its rightful place, Theo devises a daring plan to put things right. But even with the help of her younger brother, a wily street urchin, and the secret society known as the Brotherhood of the Chosen Keepers, it won’t be easy . . . she quickly finds herself pursued down dark alleys, across an ocean, through the bustling crowds of Cairo, and straight into the heart of an ancient mystery. Theo will have to call upon everything she’s ever learned in order to prevent the rising chaos from destroying her country—and herself!
First off, how great is a name like Theodosia? I love it! I’d definitely name my kid that, if I ever wanted to have a kid. It’s so grand and quirky. I love it!
Anyway, Theodosia & the Serpent of Chaos is a great little book. I love Theo, who is spunky and intelligent and though adults may annoy her to tears, she doesn’t let them bring her down. I liked how competent she was with the curses and spells, and how she takes charge of situations and gets them fixed.
The story is pretty good– I have a real fondness for ancient Egypt and old-style archaeology. Add in some secret societies, plagues, curses, pickpockets, pesky younger brothers, and museums, and you’ve basically made me a fan for life. It’s an exciting story, as well, quite fast-paced with some definite thrills thrown in, which was great.
I do, of course, have some complaints. The time period wasn’t ever noted, though I eventually guessed it was sometime in the early 1900s based on the clues left strewn throughout the book (maybe right before World War I?). Not having to figure it out for myself would have anchored me into the story more quickly and given me a frame of reference besides. The archaeology of the early 1900s is very different from the archaeology of today, after all.
Theo’s parents are very neglectful, even for stereotypical, Mary Poppins-esque parents, so much so that it was kind of unbelievable. And there were several plot threads which were never resolved, as well. I assume they’re going to be resolved in the next book or so, but it was annoying to have them dropped so abruptly and never mentioned in the tying-things-up bit of the book.
Despite those problems, I did really enjoy reading Theodosia & the Serpent of Chaos. It’s a decent start to a series, with a wonderful protagonist and a great premise, and I can’t wait to read the next book!
It kind of seemed to me like this was maybe going off of the 1932 The Mummy movie! Or at least taking into account those sorts of things. That’d be terrificly fun, of course.
It also feels a lot like the Amelia Peabody books, except with blatant magic usage. If you like the AP books you’ll probably like this one– just don’t expect the same levels of complexity in the mystery.