Theodosia and the Serpents of Chaos by R. L. LaFevers.
Houghton Mifflin Company: Boston, 2007.

This is the first of the Egyptian Theodosia mysteries. Theo is testing a statue of Bastet for curses when her cat Isis is possessed by whatever spell is on the statue. The girl is expecting her mother to return soon from a major archaeological dig with treasures in tow. Meanwhile, Theo is hiding from one of the assistant curators of the museum her parents manage, who she believes is a suspicious character. She also befriends a local pickpocket who she expects will come in handy as a co-conspirator.

Her mother returns, bringing with her the Heart of Egypt, an artifact which is said can bring down the whole country of the person who steals it from its resting place. The item is stolen from the museum, and Theo determines to get it back. In her quest, she learns of two groups in search of magical artifacts. The Serpents of Chaos wish to use their powers to dominate the world; the Chosen Keepers aim at countering their nefarious purposes.

The story is set in 1906. London is changing from the old horse and carriage world to one bustling with motorcars and omnibuses. Theo is still young enough that her family is only half-heartedly trying to turn her into a lady. Luckily, her parents have important work to distract them, so she is allowed freedom of the museum, and it is barely noticed when she makes her disappearances into London. A little more noticed when she becomes a stowaway to follow her parents to Egypt and takes off with a guide to her mother's dig site. The importance of the time period is that it is still a period that is focused on studying antiquities, the changing times are exciting and females demand more freedom and intellectual pursuits, but also it fits quite nicely with the goals of Chaos who reveal to Theo that their purpose is to start a World War.

This is the 2nd book of the series I've read. I find them to be exciting and more complex than this level of reading tends to be. Intriguing characters, twists and turns, and a feisty, knowledgeable heroine. The female protagonist will not detract from a boy's pleasure in reading, since Theo is quite the tomboy and persues adventures boys would love to have as well.

related-related-curses, artifacts and antiquities, museums, history and archaeology, mystery, Egyptian mythology, travel, high interest RL=4th and up

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