This is a nice whodunit with your typical mustache-twirling-evil-guy-in-power and the plucky kids who foil his/her plans. There is just enough of the plot given throughout that kids can begin to decipher for themselves, though adults will likely find the answer pretty easily. The author sticks to the historical milieu nicely and also attempts to do a bit of educating about the Pharaohs and especially mummification.
Story: Sesha and her brother Ky are children of the grand physician to the Pharaoh. Their father had been working on deciphering a very important medical scroll for Pharaoh when their house burned down, killing both parents, and the kids wound up on the streets, afraid to return home. But desperation returns them to the court scene since Sesha’s brother has fluid in his brain that could kill him if Sesha cannot find the lost scroll her father was transcribing. As they search the palace and temples, it becomes clear that someone was working against Pharaoh and that their parents’ deaths was not accidental. And Sesha is running out of time to find the scroll and invaluable info given by Imhotep that could save her brother’s life.
Most of the book takes place in the Pharaoh’s palace. Sesha is friends with Pharaoh’s daughter and Ky is best friends with the crown prince. Because Ky is younger, he plays more of a carefree part in the book – he’s tired of being ‘babied’ by his sister, even with his ever-worsening condition. Sesha wants to be a scribe or physician and so is taking scribe training; but being female, she is instantly bullied for her efforts despite her father giving her advance training. But her medical knowledge will be key as she unravels the mystery.
Quite a bit is explored in Egyptian culture – from the gods to the Nile creatures, life in a palace and even life on the streets. Some is more believable than others; e.g., it is unlikely anyone would name their pet dog or pet snake after sacred gods. But those kind of nitpicks are minor and certainly this is a nice introduction to ancient history.
The reading is smooth, there is a lot of action, and our heroine Sesha is brave and bold and a likeable heroine. The book ends on a bit of an abrupt note but this is meant to be several in a series so the author wants to make sure you come back for the next book. Reviewed from an advance reader copy provided by the publisher.