Monday, November 16, 2009

Review: The Secret of the Sacred Scarab

Summary: Cousins Justin and Adam are ecstatic about accompanying their aunt to Egypt. Both love adventure and know the work of James Kinnaird, and archaeologist searching for the tomb of an ancient Egyptian ruler, the Scarab King. Some dismiss the tomb as legend, but Justin and Adam believe differently.

From the moment their plane lands, Justin and Adam bounce from one mysterious event to another. Unbeknownst to them, a street peddler gives Adam an ancient scarab. Dr. Khalid, head of the department of antiquities and research at the Egyptian Museum, shows excessive interest in the cousins and their relic. Then, as the boys learn that James Kinnaird is missing, they realize something sinister is afoot.

Kidnapped and taken across the desert, the boys are plunged into serious danger and chased by ruthless enemies. Dr. Khalid will stop at nothing to discover the Scarab King's tomb and claim its treasures. But he has underestimated the boys' ingenuity.

Join Justin and Adam as they evade their captors and unravel the secrets of the Scarab King. Relying on their wits, courage, and each other, the boys must solve the mystery of the sacred scarab and rescue James Kinnaird before time runs out. - iUniverse

I have always had a fascination with Egypt and its history; so when I learned that THE SECRET OF THE SACRED SCARAB by Fiona Ingram was a middle grade action/adventure book that took place over there, I knew I wanted to read it. I thought the basic idea that two cousins go on a tour of Egypt and get caught up in a huge heap of trouble involving ancient Egyptian artifacts and curses sound terrific! I was also aware that the book had been nominated as a Finalist in the Children's Fiction section of the USA 2009 Next Generation Indie Book Awards, as well as the USA National Best Books 2009 Awards. (And, it didn't hurt that the book also came highly recommended by Trish when she reviewed it last May.)

Often times when I read a middle grade adventure book, I find that the plot is too simplistic or unbelievable. I also think the characters have a tendency to be a little flat; however, I was pleasantly surprised THE SECRET OF THE SACRED SCARAB. The book immediately grabbed my attention and I read it almost straight through (well as straight through as I can do with two kids.) I thought the author did a wonderful job of creating suspense and intrigue; and I didn't want to put the book down because I needed to find out how the story unfolded.

As an adult and a mom, I really liked this book and I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it. The story itself is very entertaining, but I also really liked the characters of Adam and Justin. They were normal boys who were very curious and looking for a little bit of adventure (and if I were their aunt I would have been ready to knock them upside the head a time or two); however, they were also very sweet and had a great deal of integrity. So often in this book, Adam and Justin found themselves facing evil people who wanted to hurt them. Yet they were both compassionate kids and they ultimately made good choices when it came to helping others.

I also really appreciated how educational this book was. Even though the story was definitely an action-packed adventure, there was so much information about Egypt within the pages of this novel. From the various cities, to hieroglyphics, to ancient artifacts, to the history of the people, it was clear that Ms. Ingram did a huge amount of research while writing this novel. I am pretty sure that many readers will want to find our even more about Egypt after picking up THE SECRET OF THE SACRED SCARAB; and I just love a book that encourages kids to learn.

Middle grade kids are going to love this book especially those that love fantasy and adventure books. My daughter actually read this book a few months ago when Trish lent us a copy of it, and I have to say that she liked it but didn't love it. After I finished the book, I was a little surprised by her reaction. I actually thought she'd be more enthusiastic about it, but then I remembered that she is in her girly girl stage right now. I know for a fact that many of the girls in our Mother-Daughter book club would absolutely adore THE SECRET OF THE SACRED SCARAB, and I think you'd be hard pressed to find a young boy who wouldn't love Adam and Justin's adventure.

This novel is Fiona Ingram's first book for children, and I think it's a great start. I enjoyed her story-telling abilities and I think readers are going to really like the characters she's created. It was apparent to me when I finished THE SECRET OF THE SACRED SCARAB that more than a few things were left open-ended and that there might be a potential series in the works. I have since learned that Ms. Ingram is currently working on the second book in The Chronicles of the Stone series THE SEARCH FOR THE STONE OF EXCALIBUR. If you'd like to learn more about the author's inspiration for the series, you can read this essay.

There is a fantastic website devoted to THE SECRET OF THE SACRED SCARAB. I can only imagine how much fun kids are going to have when they see it. There are lots of animated graphics including a map of the boys' journey; and I personally loved the Cool Links section where there are links to websites and books about Egypt. There is even a link where you can subscribe to a newsletter about Egypt. Children might also like signing up for The Official Secret of the Sacred Scarab Fan Club or e-mailing the books' characters.

I definitely recommend THE SECRET OF THE SACRED SCARAB to middle grade readers -- boys and girls alike will appreciate this book. The adventures in this story are guaranteed to captivate kids' imaginations, and I think they will also enjoy learning about Egypt and its history.

Thanks to the author and WOW Blog Tours for sending me a copy of this book. Make sure you stop by tomorrow because the author will be stopping by with a guest post!


bermudaonion said...

Vance would have loved this since he was (and still is) very close to his cousin Adam!

Fiona Ingram said...

Julie, thank you for a wonderful review. I was so happy to read how you 'picked up' on the many intriguing and interesting aspects of the boys' adventure. I have a surprise in store for your daughter - in the next book the two boys are joined by their Aunt Isabel's foster child, who just happens to be a girl. As you can imagine, this changes everything!

trish said...

Glad you liked the book, Julie! I'm hope Fiona's book gets some buzz going! :)