In 1815, multilingual Agnes Wilkins would much rather be traveling the world on archaeological adventures than preparing to make her debut to London society. She gets more than she bargained for when her potential suitor Lord Showalter holds a mummy unwrapping at his garden party (something that was actually a fad in the 1800s, according to the author’s note). Agnes uncovers a mysterious artifact, and possibly a curse as well once a murder and burglaries start sweeping the neighborhood. Not one to ignore a mystery, Agnes aims to get to the bottom of it all…and still be home in time for tea.
What I liked: Agnes had a lot of spunk and I enjoyed her Jane Austen quotes in multiple languages. In addition, kudos to Ms. Bradbury for knowing that Austen’s books were first published anonymously. The tie-ins to the war with Napoleon was unique to this book – it seems that in many novels of the same setting, the war is barely mentioned. The ending tied up enough loose ends to satisfy me, while still leaving the door wide open for sequels, which sound more potentially interesting than the first book.
What I was not so crazy about: There is really nothing wrong with this book. My biggest problem was simply that it did not feel very original. Yes, the Egyptology plot was different, but besides that it felt quite a bit like other historical mysteries. The characters felt like archetypes, and the plot twists were fairly predictable. Lots of “talking heads” scenes, and nothing too exciting.
In short: This is a fun, very quick mystery with a bit of romance, but not outstanding. Still, I would be willing to read sequels in the future.
3 out of 5 stars.
Something similar: The Season by Sarah MacLean, The Agency series by Y.S. Lee
Something better: Sorcery and Cecelia by Caroline Stevermer and Patricia C. Wrede
Cover: I love it! I like that it’s drawn and not a photo like the vast majority of YA books today. Cover girl who looks like the main character? Also a check. Upon closer inspection, the ribbon from Agnes’ dress connects with part of the mummy’s wrapping to form the title. Very clever