Rick Riordan’s plunge into ancient Egyptian mythology, twenty-first century-style, begins with a warning: “The following is a transcript of a digital recording. . . It seems impossible that the two young narrators are telling the truth, but you, the reader, must decide for yourself.” Fourteen-year-old Carter Kane and his twelve-year-old sister, Sadie Kane, take turns, two chapters at a time, in relating the earthshaking turn their lives have taken since last Christmas Eve. Carter is first, in “A Death at the Needle,” speaking directly to us:
“We only have a few hours, so listen carefully. If you’re hearing this story, you’re already in danger. Sadie and I might be your only chance. . . Okay, Sadie is telling me to stop stalling and get on with the story. Fine. I guess it started in London, the night our dad blew up the British Museum.”
As Carter and Sadie quickly discover, the blood of the pharaohs runs through their veins, and they are the most powerful royal children to be born in centuries. Can they summon enough magic to rescue their father and reconcile the gods with the Per Ankh, the House of Life, before Set—the Red Lord, the evil god of chaos—destroys North America and more? Their ensuing race takes them to their Uncle Amos’s invisible mansion in Brooklyn, New York; to the top of the Washington Monument; to Graceland, Elvis’s estate in Memphis; and to Camelback Mountain in Phoenix, Arizona, where Set is building a massive red pyramid. The Demon Days are here and Carter and Sadie have only five days to fend off or befriend a host of gods, demons, and other magical creatures that can’t wait to kill them, and bring back order to the universe.
Tremendously inventive, exhilarating, and just plain fun, this is nonetheless a challenging read, integrating a weighty dose of Egyptian mythology into the Kane kids’ sassy narratives.
TIPS & EXTRAS
Go to http://disney.go.com/disneybooks/kanechronicles/ and look for the Egyptian Event Kit. There you can print out a helpful chart describing each of the many gods and magicians you meet in The Red Pyramid, which is, well, a godsend if you’re having trouble keeping them all straight. (Guaranteed, Riordan’s tenacious fans will read the book more than once, which will help them decipher the arc of the Kane kids’ complicated quest.) On the Web site, you can also play the Red Pyramid Puzzle, and download and listen to chapter one of the audio book. Book Two of the trilogy won’t be out until 2011?! It’s going to be a long wait, so, in the meantime, why not brush up on all things ancient Egyptian at your library?
Reviewed by JF.
THEMES: ADVENTURE & ADVENTURERS. BROTHERS AND SISTERS. GODS AND GODDESSES. MAGIC & MAGICIANS.
Hyperion Book CH, 2010
Suggested Ages: 10 and Up