Summary (from the publisher):
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.
Maybe you think this girl is wearing a pith helmet with antique dust swirling around her.
Maybe you think she is a young Egyptologist who has arrived in Cairo on camelback.
Maybe she would like to think that too. Agnes Wilkins 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.
Get wrapped up in the adventure . . . but keep your wits about you, dear Agnes.
Due out: May 24, 2011
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I got this book from GalleyGrab, and I didn't know what to expect. To be honest, the cover art did not give me much hope. While it is beautiful as a piece of art, it really seemed more in line with the kind of covers I'm seeing on Middle Grade books right now. More graphic novel than traditional fiction. I thought the voice would be younger than it turned out to be.
Really, on all front, this book surprised me! After reading the jacket flap, I was expected paranormal. Instead, it was a delightful historical mystery and I completely enjoyed it. Agnes is an infectious main character--exactly what you want from a Victorian heroine: a little too smart for her own good, totally constrained by her society, and willing to tiptoe outside those social norms when adventure is at stake. The pace was just right, and kept me turning pages. I felt really immersed in Agnes's world, without too much explanation that would ruin the voice.
Bradbury struck just the right balance between historical accuracy and creative license. I wanted to believe everything she told me, and her storytelling made that possible.
I won't ruin this for you all with spoilers, but if you have ever loved the Victorian era, you need to read this book. The whole time I was reading, I kept thinking of Anne Perry's Pitt series, which I devoured in younger days. Agnes brought me back there, with a nice sprucing up for today's reader in the YA genre.
There had better be more where this came from, Jennifer Bradbury! More Agnes!
Anyone who likes Historical Mysteries, especially Victorians. Anyone who ever wanted to be Indiana Jones (like me!). Anyone who liked Amy Adams's character in Sherlock Homes.
Let me know if you like it!