Diadem of Death was an enjoyable read – I found the writing in this second book in the series to be much tighter and with greater focus on the mystery rather than teen angst. Moving the action to Egypt brought an exotic flavor that worked so much better than the ‘Nancy Drew meets Scooby Doo” vibes of the first book and its American high school setting. As well, new and interesting characters breathed life into the mysteries (which are connected from first book to the second, creating an major series arc).
Story: Terry and her friends/father are invited to Egypt to help solve a puzzle that may finally lead to Cleopatra’s tomb. But meeting up with her old best friend Awad brings both joy and complications for Terry since he has changed so much since the little boy she last knew. She and her team use her newfound powers to help solve the puzzles and riddles. But a new foe – the Illuminati – want Cleopatra’s treasures for themselves and would not not hesitate to harm or kill Terry and her companions to achieve their objectives. With the help of an archaeologist and his unusual young daughter, Terry will do her best to save her friends and discover the mystery behind new friend Awad and his connection to Cleopatra’s tomb.
Quite a bit more than I put into the synopsis happens in Diadem – the plot moves briskly and there are plenty of ‘Indiana Jones’ moments throughout. Characters are given a bit more development and there are solvable and unsolvable mysteries to enjoy along with Terry. Perhaps because the Maguffins are very obvious, the series does skew a bit toward middle grade rather than high school readers. But I think older teens can enjoy the Egyptian themes as well.
One thing I do appreciate is that Myers bucks a lot of trends. Although the Hughes Mystery books aren’t deep, it is unusual to find protagonists that a) lose limbs and b) choose really bland boyfriends who don’t upstage them. I definitely appreciate that Terry is not ‘all tell and no show’ – she is strong and tough but Myers does give her some vulnerabilities.
I think what keeps this from being 5 star for me is that the Egyptian aspects feel weak and stretched to fit into a mystery format. And silly things like Nefertari’s exotic name being shortened to the bland Terry instead of Teri throws me off every time I read “Terry”. I also wonder why Nefertiti is on the cover – this is a book about Cleopatra and a girl named after a famous Egyptian Pharaoh’s wife. It would be like seeing a book about Abraham Lincoln but George Washington was on the cover. But other than this very nitpicky thoughts, Diadem is a good read. Reviewed from an advance reader copy provided by the publisher.