This is the first book of the "Kane Chronicles," a series that does for Egyptian mythology what the same author's "Percy Jackson and the Olympians" and "Heroes of Olympus" series did, and continue to do, for Graeco-Roman ditto. And in case you missed that memo, it gives teens a crash course in a whole range of Egyptian history, customs, gods, and monsters, all washed down with a kid-friendly blend of streetwise attitude, laugh-out-loud humor, rip-snortin' action, and a special-effects budget limited only by your own imagination. There is even a hint that the Egyptian godlings in this series dwell in the same magic-haunted universe as the young demigods of Camp Halfblood. I don't know, maybe it's the veiled reference to the goings-on at the Empire State Building in Manhattan, across the East River from the Brooklyn mansion where the Kane siblings come to live with their mysterious Uncle Amos after... well, there's a lot to summarize.
To start with, Carter (age 14) has been living out of a suitcase for the six years since their mother died in what now turns out not to have been an accident. Their globe-trotting Egyptologist father, whom Carter has been following around the world since then, also proves to be more than he seems. They only see Sadie (age 12) a couple times a year, due to the custody deal with her London-dwelling grandparents. On the latest visitation day, their family situation quickly progresses from "vaguely disappointing" to "terrifyingly weird." Dad blows himself up in the British Museum, along with the Rosetta Stone, and unleashes five ancient deities from the Duat, or magical realm, where they have been cooling their heels. Now two of those gods—Isis and Horus—are trying to possess Carter and Sadie. Another god, Osiris, has become trapped with their father. And that leaves the way open for Set, the Egyptian god of evil, to plan a birthday blow-out for himself—which will pretty much wipe out the world as we know it.
Now the kids are on the run, marked for death by the only magicians who know how to cope with the power of Egyptian gods. They are just starting to understand their new powers. They can barely hold off Horus and Isis from possessing them completely. And they have to start an apocalypse that will spread evil from a red pyramid inside a mountain in Phoenix, Arizona, while monsters and minor gods in the service of chaos are coming at them from all directions, including up and down.
Cringe with them as the goddess of scorpions swarms them in New York City. Shake in your blue suede shoes as a pair of magically deadly good-old-boys chases them through the Graceland museum in Memphis, Tennessee. Spew milk out of your nose when a rampaging lion goddess turns into her sleepy cow aspect and begins making "Moo-zzz" sounds. And bask in the glow of puppy love as the Kanes encounter a pretty girl whose duty is to kill them, and a cute boy who happens to be the god of death.
You'll feel like you're right there as Carter and Sadie take turns narrating all their wild and weird adventures, from fleeing the upper deck of the Washington Monument in the form of birds to facing an army of demons, beasts, and animated sculptures (called shabtis) on one side and the unfriendly magicians of the House of Life on the other. Who knew there was more to Egyptian mythology than shambling mummies and cursed tombs? Well, you'll know now—you'll be amazed how much you can learn when you're having this much fun—and you'll be glad to know that there is more to come in the sequels: The Throne of Fire and The Serpent's Shadow.
Saint Louis USA
Recommended Age: 12+
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