Friday, February 21, 2014

Theodosia and the Last Pharoah by R. L. LaFevers

The last Theodosia book I reviewed was Eyes of Horus in 2010, the third book in the quartet, and I'm finally, finally reviewing the final book!

After many trials and tribulations, Theodosia has gotten herself and her cat Isis to Egypt, where she hopes to return the Emerald Tablet and the Orb of Ra to the wedjadeen and maybe redeem her friend Awi Bubu, back in London. She also hopes to figure out the mystery of her birth and find some archaeological treasures. Of course, nothing can be easy in Theodosia's world and she quickly runs into suspicious and murderous opponents, possibly villainous architects, a helpful street boy with a mysterious past, and it seems she's farther away from being the daughter her mother wants than ever before.

While this book is, in some ways, even more action-packed than the first three titles, it also has more depth and thoughtfulness. Theodosia learns much more about herself than she ever wanted to know and has to make some hard decisions about what she's going to do about her knowledge. The author does a good job of winding up the quartet in a way that's realistic and yet satisfying, while still leaving some speculations and questions to be answered. The one element that I felt didn't handle as smoothly as it should have was Theodosia's interactions with the native Egyptians. She's been dealing with a predominantly white, male-dominated, very Victorian secret society and her exposure to the Egyptian nationalist movement and the Egyptian secret societies seems awkward, especially when the author tries to connect the wedjadeen and the Brotherhood of Secrets. However, in some ways that's a realistic touch in and of itself - both groups have to realize they are going to have to compromise and give up some deeply held beliefs in order to continue their missions and Theodosia's moment of comprehension when a local Egyptian equates the nationalist movement with Theodosia's own struggles for independence fits smoothly into the narrative and Theodosia's development.

Verdict: I really love Theodosia and I think it's a pity I have a hard time selling these to kids. Although mythology is big now, thanks to Rick Riordan, some of my parents are wary of books that involve the more religious aspects of mythology (and this series has a LOT of those aspects) especially curses and demons. Theodosia's spiky personality and more introspective moments also seem to discourage kids who want non-stop action without any pauses. However, I continue to soldier on and recommend it to kids who like humor, mythology, curses, and a good dose of Victorian dramatics.

ISBN: 9780547390185; Published 2011 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; ARC provided by publisher at ALA several years ago *wince*; Purchased for the library

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