by Jennifer Bradbury
The back of the book says: Agnes Wilkins is standing in front of an Egyptian mummy, about to make the first cut into the wrappings, about to unlock ancient (and not-so-ancient) history.
Agnes dreams of adventures that reach beyond the garden walls, but reality for a seventeen-year-old debutante in 1815 London does not allow for camels—or dust, even. No, Agnes can only see a mummy when she is wearing a new silk gown and standing on the verdant lawns of Lord Showalter’s estate, with chaperones fussing about and strolling sitar players straining to create an exotic “atmosphere” for the first party of the season. An unwrapping.
This is the start of it all, Agnes’s debut season, the pretty girl parade that offers only ever-shrinking options: home, husband, and high society. It’s also the start of something else, because the mummy Agnes unwraps isn’t just a mummy. It’s a host for a secret that could unravel a new destiny—unleashing mystery, an international intrigue, and possibly a curse in the bargain.
I say: I thoroughly enjoyed this book. One professional review called it a “fizzy, frothy adventure” and I think that’s just the way I would describe it, too. It’s a romp through Regency London, with a heroine who loves Jane Austen and wants more from her life than parties and clothes. There are spies and secrets and even a possible Mummy’s curse. What’s not to love?
Agnes was very enjoyable as a heroine. She’s clever and brave, and active in her own story. The love interest was sweet and also intelligent (a nineteenth century nerd... though a quite handsome one, of course). Clever always wins me over. I can’t help it. Agnes spends some time chaffing at the restrictions of her society, both of gender and of class, mostly as she’s throwing off the traces to go chasing after lost Egyptian artifacts before Napoleon’s spies can get to them.
Being as I’m VERY familiar with this time period and Napoleonic War history, I was very pleased that plot dovetailed so nicely with actual history. Also, Agnes had a brother in the Royal Navy and the author got those details spot on, too.
As far as the mystery, and the running around and sneaking into places and dressing as a boy... well, it’s all part of the fun of a caper story. Don’t expect the realism of a Historical Fiction novel, or the intricate puzzle of a Spy thriller. But expect a delightful story that’s fun to read. (This title would be appropriate for younger teens, too.)
What else are the Bookanistas reading this week? Click below to see.
Elana Johnson gushes about THE GIRL OF FIRE AND THORNS
LiLa Roecker sings for VIRTUOSITY
Shelli Johannes-Wells praises NEVER ENDING SKY
Rosemary Clement-Moore gets all wrapped up in WRAPPED
Jessi Kirby yearns to start another REVOLUTION
Nikki Katz screams for LEGEND
Katy Upperman sets us all up for BEFORE I FALL