A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this series is by Rick Riordan, author of the hugely popular Percy Jackson series. While Percy cavorted with Greek gods and half-gods, brother and sister Carter and Sadie come face to face with ancient Egyptian gods, magicians, and god-monsters. There are plenty of battle scenes against gods and monsters that feel very much like fantasy, with a bit of bloodshed, and some scenes in a bleak afterlife. At the beginning of the book Carter and Sadie, who lost their mother a few years before, deal with the disappearance of their father, whom they fear will never return. Carter and Sadie, despite their differences (raised different places, and Carter looks more like his black father while Sadie looks like their white mother), are constantly looking out for each other as they deal with some harsh realities about Egyptian history and their place in it. The audiobook version is read by Kevin R. Free and Katherine Kellgren.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
Everything goes wrong when 14-year-old Carter, his Egyptologist father, and 12-year-old sister Sadie go to the British Museum for a private viewing of the Rosetta Stone. Carter and Sadie watch as their dad mysteriously blows the stone apart and gets trapped in a sarcophogus that disappears into the floor. That's when long-lost Uncle Amos helps them escape on a magic boat that whisks them to a Brooklyn mansion in seconds. And that's just the start of magical occurrences that involve ancient Egyptian gods unleashed, magicians from the House of Life who are trying to keep them in check, and Carter and Sadie caught in the middle, desperately trying to channel powers they never knew they had. They have only a few days to figure it all out before the god Set builds a gigantic pyramid in Phoenix and tries to destroy the whole of North America.
Is it any good?
Percy Jackson fans will probably be satisfied, but they have to like ancient history as much if not more than they like god-on-monster action. There are so many gods and their backstories to keep track of, but then that's the history of ancient Egypt: complicated. Now that kids know what a ba is and how to pull things out of the Duat and restore Ma'at, etc., etc., subsequent novels in the series will be an easier read, but this one may take a couple read-throughs to get it all straight.
History lessons aside, this is a fun ride and mostly because Carter and Sadie are such great characters. They also have that signature sardonic wit that Percy was known for. Great one-liners come out of nowhere to lighten the mood when facing all manner of horrible creatures and almost certain death. When they are faced with a scary demon in the underworld it comes out that he's not only Lord of Blood and Wine, but also Lord of Perfume. Sadie asks politely if her brother can have a sample before they sail on.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about Carter and Sadie's relationship. Why did Carter envy Sadie's life with their grandparents? Why did Sadie admire Carter's with their father? How did they come to understand each other in the end? How did they complement each other?
Families can also talk about ancient Egypt and everything they learned from the book. Do you want to read more about Egyptian gods? Which gods are the most interesting?
Families can also talk about what makes great hero characters. What qualities do they share?
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