Reviews for Theodosia and the Serpents of Chaos

Booklist Reviews 2007 May #1
/*Starred Review*/ "You'd be surprised by how many things come into the museum loaded with curses--bad ones," says 11-year-old Theodosia, whose parents run London's Museum of Legends and Antiquities. The twentieth century has just begun, and Theodosia's mum, an archaeologist, has recently returned from Egypt with crates of artifacts. Only Theodosia can feel the objects' dark magic, which, after consulting ancient texts, she has learned to remove. Then a sacred amulet disappears, and during her search, Theodosia stumbles into a terrifying battle between international secret societies. Readers won't look to this thrilling adventure for subtle characterizations (most fit squarely into good and evil camps) or neat end-knots in the sprawling plot's many threads. It's the delicious, precise, and atmospheric details (nicely extended in Tanaka's few, stylized illustrations) that will capture and hold readers, from the contents of Theodosia's curse-removing kit to descriptions of the museum after hours, when Theodosia sleeps in a sarcophagus to ward off the curses of "disgruntled dead things." Kids who feel overlooked by their own distracted parents may feel a tug of recognition as Theodosia yearns for attention, and those interested in archaeology will be drawn to the story's questions about the ownership and responsible treatment of ancient artifacts. A sure bet for Harry Potter fans as well as Joan Aiken's and Eva Ibbotson's readers. This imaginative, supernatural mystery will find word-of-mouth popularity. ((Reviewed May 1, 2007)) Copyright 2007 Booklist Reviews.

Horn Book Guide Reviews 2007 Fall
Theodosia Throckmorton has an uncanny ability to detect curses and black magic. This skill leads her to the Valley of the Kings to return an artifact that threatens the fate of the world. Though some characters are wooden (the villains are of the mustache-twirling variety), the story is bolstered by fast-paced action and fascinating Egyptian lore. Copyright 2007 Horn Book Guide Reviews.

Horn Book Guide Reviews 2008 Spring
Theodosia Throckmorton has an uncanny ability to detect curses and black magic. This skill leads her to the Valley of the Kings to return an artifact that threatens the fate of the world. Though some characters are wooden (the villains are of the mustache-twirling variety), the story is bolstered by fast-paced action and fascinating Egyptian lore. Copyright 2008 Horn Book Guide Reviews.

Kirkus Reviews 2007 April #1
Intrepid Theodosia, age 11, narrates a fantasy steeped in invented and authentic Egyptology, clashing secret societies and pre-WWI European intrigue. Theo's workaholic father runs the Museum of Legends and Antiquities, its inferiority complex (with the British Museum) assuaged by the artifacts that Mum ships from her excavation of Thutmose III's tomb. Theo obsessively researches ancient Egypt, uncannily able to physically intuit and ameliorate curses and "black magic" intact in the ancient objects surrounding her. A complex plot involving the return of the bejeweled "Heart of Egypt" to its proper place in Thutmose III's tomb pits Theo against evildoers bent on destabilizing Europe and seizing power. LaFevers overplays happenstance and Theo's naiveté as unreliable narrator to pass off bits of fortuitous plotting. Theo careens off to both Giza and the Valley of the Kings without her parents' knowledge. Stock characters and a school of red herrings crowd the narrative; the cracking good tomb showdown rewards persistent--or unfussy--readers. (Fantasy. 9-12) Copyright Kirkus 2007 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.

Library Media Connection - November/December 2007
Middle school readers, particularly girls, will be delighted with this first title set in London shortly prior to World War I, featuring Theodosia Throckmorton, a highly resourceful eleven-year-old. Both of her parents are archeologists, and she spends much time alone secretly ridding her parents' museum of the curses that are often attached to the exhibit pieces. When her mother returns from Egypt with an ancient amulet cursed with an exceptionally evil power, Theodosia is thrust into adventure and mystery, uncovering a secret society whose mission is to bring chaos to the entire world. Suspense and humor blend together in this creative first person narrative. Theodosia's voice will charm readers for the humor and her yearning for love and attention. The action carries readers to the heart of ancient Egypt in a race against villains who do not stop short of murder. The satisfying conclusion leaves readers hankering for further adventures of this high-spirited protagonist. A sequel is planned. Pair this with the contemporary Sammy Keyes series by Wendelin Van Draanen (Alfred A. Knopf (Random House)) for middle schoolers or the Mary Russell mystery series by Laurie R. King (Bantam Books) for older readers. Highly Recommended. Tena Natale Litherland, Head Librarian, Webb School of Knoxville, and Adjunct Lecturer, University of Tennessee © 2007 Linworth Publishing, Inc.

Publishers Weekly Reviews 2007 April #2

Frankly, I'm not fond of surprises, as the ones around here tend to be rather wicked." There are surprises aplenty in LaFevers's spirited debut, a sort of Indiana Jones for girls and a perfect blend of mystery and humor. Set in turn-of-the-20th-century London, it involves 11-year-old Theodosia Throckmorton, who "assists" her parents in their Museum of Legends and Antiquities. But Theo is the only one who can tell when ancient artifacts arriving at the museum bear a curse--and as new acquisitions arrive, she makes it her business to secretly remove any lingering curses by using recipes she finds in her constant research. Her mother returns home from a dig with the Heart of Egypt, a scarab amulet that was used as a death marker for the Pharaohs. When the amulet goes missing, Theo's search for it leads her to Lord Wigmere, the leader of an underground society that watches for magical artifacts entering England. The Heart of Egypt, it turns out, possesses a particularly nasty curse, "designed to weaken a nation, to make it easy to conquer." Crops begin to fail and a flu epidemic overtakes the nation. To break the curse, the Heart must be returned to the tomb from which it was taken--and, of course, it falls to Theo to recover the Heart. Loads of evocative Egyptian history and an oh-so-plucky, resourceful narrator make this the first volume in a series to watch. Ages 9-12. (Apr.)

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School Library Journal Reviews 2007 April

Gr 4-8-- A combination of Nancy Drew and Indiana Jones, Theo Throckmorton is in big trouble. The 11-year-old lives in London in 1906 and spends most of her time in an antiquities museum headed by her father and filled with objects from her mother's archaeological expeditions to Egypt. Bossy, clever, and learned in the lore of ancient Egypt, the girl constantly worries that the work-obsessed parents who ignore and neglect her will be destroyed by virulent ancient curses that only she can detect. When her mother returns from her latest trip with an amulet inscribed with curses so powerful they could unleash the Serpents of Chaos and destroy the British Empire, Theo finds herself caught up in a web of intrigue and danger. It pits her, along with some unexpected allies, against German operatives trying to use the scarab as a weapon in their political and economic rivalry with England. Theo must draw on all her resources when she confronts her enemies alone, deep in an Egyptian tomb. There, she makes some surprising discoveries, both personal and archaeological. Vivid descriptions of fog-shrouded London and hot, dusty Cairo enhance the palpable gothic atmosphere, while page-turning action and a plucky, determined heroine add to the book's appeal. Unfortunately, Theo's narrative voice lurches between the diction of an Edwardian child and that of a modern teen. The ambiguous ending, with its hints at the approaching World War, seems to promise a sequel. A fine bet for a booktalk to classes studying ancient Egypt.--Margaret A. Chang, Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, North Adams

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