Filled with intrigue and surprises, The Pharaoh’s Secret includes Marissa Moss’s original illustrations throughout. The novel skillfully weaves history with a personal story full of heartache and family tensions that will entice and enthrall readers.
When Talibah and her younger brother, Adom, accompany their father, an academic, to his homeland of modern Egypt on his research assignment, they become involved in a mystery surrounding an ancient, lost pharaoh—a rare queen ruler. Someone has tried to wipe her from the record, to make it appear as if she never existed! She needs Talibah to help her and her high priest, Senenmut, reclaim their rightful place in history. Exotic locales, mysterious strangers, and a sinister archaeologist round out an adventure that is full of riddles, old tales, and, most surprisingly of all, a link to Talibah’s and Adom’s mother, who died mysteriously.
I was sadly disappointed in The Pharaoh’s Secret. From the synopsis, I was expecting a fast-paced and exciting story but there was a shortage of action and the execution and development of the story were unsatisfactory. I found Talibah’s character hardly developed, while some may argue that this book is for ages 9-13, I still find that Moss could have made Talibah a stronger heroine.
The plot sounded promising but half way through the book, nothing happened. Talibah meets a few odd people, receives gifts, sees the name Hatshepsut everywhere but NOTHING is done. Why couldn’t Talibah do something like sneak away at night to snoop around for clues? That could have made things more exciting instead of sightseeing, discovering something, back to hotel and the next day repeat the same routine. I was really disappointed that nothing exciting happened. No actual spirits rising from the dead or mummies coming out of the tombs. Maybe something happens at the end but I am just going to skim through and read the ending.
Talibah finds Rashid, a colleague of Talibah’s father, creepy and suspects that he is evil. But there is no supporting evidence to back her up. Sure, he has a creepy ring but it came of as judgemental and stereotypical to me. Just because Rihanna (the singer who sang Umbrella) has a tattoo does it mean she is a bad person? No. Basically my point is, Talibah sounded superficial to me and I could not connect with her.
I could not finish this book but if you are a middle grader, this book may be of your liking if you enjoy mysteries. Not recommanded to anyone above 14. The Pharaoh’s Secret had so much potential but came off as mundane. Cover wise, I thought the cover was splendid! It had a element of mystery and intrigue but were missing in the actual story. Also, the illustrations in the book added a nice touch.
Bronze star (2/5 stars)