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Theodosia and the Serpents of Chaos
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Theodosia and the Serpents of Chaos

4.5 53
by R. L. LaFevers, Yoko Tanaka (Illustrator)

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Theodosia Throckmorton has her hands full at the Museum of Legends and Antiquities in London. Her father may be head curator, but it is Theo—and only Theo—who is able to see all the black magic and ancient curses that still cling to the artifacts in the museum. Sneaking behind her father’s back, Theo uses old, nearly forgotten Egyptian magic to


Theodosia Throckmorton has her hands full at the Museum of Legends and Antiquities in London. Her father may be head curator, but it is Theo—and only Theo—who is able to see all the black magic and ancient curses that still cling to the artifacts in the museum. Sneaking behind her father’s back, Theo uses old, nearly forgotten Egyptian magic to remove the curses and protect her father and the rest of the museum employees from the ancient, sinister forces that lurk in the museum’s dark hallways.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Frankly, I'm not fond of surprises, as the ones around here tend to be rather wicked." There are surprises aplenty in LaFevers's spirited debut, a sort of Indiana Jones for girls and a perfect blend of mystery and humor. Set in turn-of-the-20th-century London, it involves 11-year-old Theodosia Throckmorton, who "assists" her parents in their Museum of Legends and Antiquities. But Theo is the only one who can tell when ancient artifacts arriving at the museum bear a curse—and as new acquisitions arrive, she makes it her business to secretly remove any lingering curses by using recipes she finds in her constant research. Her mother returns home from a dig with the Heart of Egypt, a scarab amulet that was used as a death marker for the Pharaohs. When the amulet goes missing, Theo's search for it leads her to Lord Wigmere, the leader of an underground society that watches for magical artifacts entering England. The Heart of Egypt, it turns out, possesses a particularly nasty curse, "designed to weaken a nation, to make it easy to conquer." Crops begin to fail and a flu epidemic overtakes the nation. To break the curse, the Heart must be returned to the tomb from which it was taken—and, of course, it falls to Theo to recover the Heart. Loads of evocative Egyptian history and an oh-so-plucky, resourceful narrator make this the first volume in a series to watch. Ages 9-12. (Apr.)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Kirkus Reviews
Intrepid Theodosia, age 11, narrates a fantasy steeped in invented and authentic Egyptology, clashing secret societies and pre-WWI European intrigue. Theo's workaholic father runs the Museum of Legends and Antiquities, its inferiority complex (with the British Museum) assuaged by the artifacts that Mum ships from her excavation of Thutmose III's tomb. Theo obsessively researches ancient Egypt, uncannily able to physically intuit and ameliorate curses and "black magic" intact in the ancient objects surrounding her. A complex plot involving the return of the bejeweled "Heart of Egypt" to its proper place in Thutmose III's tomb pits Theo against evildoers bent on destabilizing Europe and seizing power. LaFevers overplays happenstance and Theo's naivete as unreliable narrator to pass off bits of fortuitous plotting. Theo careens off to both Giza and the Valley of the Kings without her parents' knowledge. Stock characters and a school of red herrings crowd the narrative; the cracking good tomb showdown rewards persistent-or unfussy-readers. (Fantasy. 9-12)
School Library Journal
Gr 4–8—Eleven-year-old Theodosia Elizabeth Throckmorton possesses the unique ability to see curses on Ancient Egyptian artifacts and remove them. She and her father spend most of their days working inside the Museum of Antiquities and Legends in London, awaiting her archaeologist mother's finds. She hides her talent from everyone, until a fabulous and extremely cursed artifact, called the Heart of Egypt, is stolen from the museum. Theo must join forces with Lord Wigmere and the Brotherhood of the Chosen Keepers, who believe in her ability to save her brother and England from the Serpents of Chaos. Charlotte Perry brings to life the charming character in R. L. LaFevers's novel (Houghton Mifflin, 2007), capturing the various British accents and giving perfect voice to brave but precocious Theo, her preoccupied parents, and the villainous Von Braggenschnott. The book is filled with wonderful secondary characters, including the talented pickpocket Will and the agreeable, intelligent Lord Wigmere. The settings are perfectly presented, the characters are well developed, and the plot is captivating and filled with ancient Egyptian lore and mystery. Listeners will be eager to read/listen to the other books in the series.—Sarah Flood, Breckinridge County Public Library, Hardinsburg, KY

Product Details

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date:
Theodosia Series , #1
Edition description:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 7.75(h) x 0.82(d)
780L (what's this?)
Age Range:
9 - 12 Years

Read an Excerpt

December 17, 1906

I don’t trust Clive Fagenbush.

How can you trust a person who has eyebrows as thick and black as hairbrushes and smells of boiled cabbage and pickled onions? Besides, I’m beginning to suspect he’s up to something. What’s worse, I think he suspects I’m up to something. Which I usually am.

Not that anyone would take the word of an eleven- year-old girl against that of the Second Assistant Curator—even if that girl just happens to be the daughter of the Head Curator of the museum and is rather cleverer than most (or so I’ve been told; oddly, I don’t think they meant it as a compliment). As far as I can tell, it doesn’t make any difference to adults how clever children are. They always stick together. Unless you are sick or dying or mortally wounded, they will always side with the other adult.

That’s certainly the case here, anyway. My father oversees the Museum of Legends and Antiquities, the second largest museum in London. As a result, I spend most of my time clattering around this old place. I don’t mind. Really. Well, not much anyway. Though it would be nice if Father remembered I was here once in a while. . . However, I’ve got plenty to do. The museum’s got loads of secrets, and I’ve discovered I’m very good at ferreting out secrets. And curses. You’d be surprised at how many things come into the museum loaded with curses —bad ones. Ancient, dark, Egyptian-magic ones.

Take this morning, for example, when a crate arrived from Mum.

At the sound of the buzzer, I hurried down to Receiving. Dolge and Sweeny, the museum’s two hired hands, were just opening the doors to the loading area. Yellow fog began oozing into the room like a runny pudding. Outside, I could make out the drayman, blowing on his fingers and stamping his feet, trying to stay warm as he waited next to his cart. His carriage lanterns were lit and looked like two fuzzy halos in the thick fog. Sweeny hopped off the dock and together they lifted a crate from the back of the cart and carried it inside. As they made their way past me, I craned forward to read the label. It was from Thebes! Which meant it had to be from Mum. Her first shipment from the Valley of the Kings! The first of many, most likely.

Once they’d placed the crate on an empty worktable, the drayman tipped his cap and hurried back to his cart, anxious to be on his way. Dolge closed the door behind him with a resounding clang.

By this time, the curators had arrived, and we all gathered round to watch Father open the crate. As I inched closer, I saw that, once again, he wasn’t wearing any gloves. My own gloved fingers twitched in dismay.

"Um, Father?”

He paused, his hands hovering over the crate. "Yes, Theodosia?”

"Aren’t you afraid you’ll get splinters?” Everyone turned to stare at me oddly.

"Nonsense,” he said.

Of course, I didn’t give a fig about splinters. They were the least of my worries. But I didn’t dare tell him that.

With everyone’s attention once again focused on the crate, I shuffled closer to Father’s side, trying to reach him before he actually touched whatever it was that Mum had sent. I made it past Dolge and Sweeny with no problem, but I had to hold my breath as I sidled past Fagenbush. He glared at me, and I glared back.

When I reached Father’s side, I dipped my hand into the pocket of my pinafore just as he plunged his hands into the crate. As unobtrusively as possible, I slipped a small amulet of protection out of my pocket and into his. Unfortunately, my action did not go unnoticed. He paused and scowled at me. "What on earth are you doing?”

"I just wanted to get a good look, Father. I am the shortest one in the room, you know.” To turn his attention from me back to the crate, I leaned forward and peered in. "What do you think she’s sent us this time?”

"Well, that’s what I’m trying to find out.” His voice was tinged with exasperation. Then luckily he forgot all about me as, with great ceremony, he reached into the crate and lifted out an absolutely fetching black statue of a cat: Bastet, the Egyptian fertility goddess.

The moment I laid eyes on it, I felt as if a parade of icy-footed beetles were marching down my spine. My cat, Isis, who’d been skulking under the workmen’s bench, took one look at the statue, meowed loudly, then streaked off for parts unknown. I shuddered. Once again Mother had sent us an artifact positively dripping with ancient, evil curses.

"Are you all right, Theo?” Nigel Bollingsworth, the First Assistant Curator, asked. "You’re not taking a chill, are you?” He studied me in concern. Next to him, Fagenbush stared at me as if I were something nasty that Isis had dragged in. "No, Mr. Bolllingsworth. I’m fine.”

Well, except for the black magic rolling off the new cursed object.

Of course, Mother never realized it was cursed. Nor did Father. Neither one of them ever seemed able to tell.

None of the assistant curators seemed to notice anything, either. Except for that rat Fagenbush. He eyed the statue with his face aglow and his long, bony fingers twitching. The problem was, he looked like that half the time, so it was hard to know if it was his reaction to the artifact or he was just being his own horrid self.

As far as I knew, I was the only one able to detect the black magic still clinging to the ancient objects. Therefore, it was up to me to discover the nature of this statue’s curse and how to remove it.


When Mother arrived tomorrow, she was sure to have loads of new artifacts with her. Even more crates would trickle in over the next few weeks. Who knew how many of those items would be cursed? I could be busy for months! The only good thing was that it would keep me out of Mother and Father’s way. They tend to get annoyed when I’m underfoot, and then begin talking of sending me off to school. This way, at least I’d be able to spend some time with Mum.

Still, while hunches and gut instinct were all well and good for a First Level Test, I had to be logical and scientific about this. I needed to conduct a Level Two Test as soon as possible.

My chance came when everyone had cleared out of the receiving bay and returned to their duties. Since I didn’t have any duties to return to, I was able to hang back unnoticed.

I went over to one of the shelves that lined the receiving area and took down a small, battered Canopic jar. It had come in badly damaged, and since it wasn’t particularly valuable, no one had taken the time to restore it. I had begun using it for collecting wax (old candle stubs, sealing wax, that kind of thing), which I used extensively in my Second Level Test. Wax is very good at absorbing heka, or evil magic.

I removed some of the wax bits from the jar and carefully set them in a circle around the base of the statue.

By dinnertime, the entire circle of wax bits was a foul greeny-black color. Drat! I don’t think the wax has ever turned dark that quickly before. Now I had to come back and conduct a Third Level Test. Unfortunately, in order to do that, I needed moonlight. Moonlight is the only way to make the inscribed curses visible to the human eye.

Of course, the only way to view something in moonlight is at night.

And I loathe the museum at night.

Meet the Author

R. L. LaFevers grew up in Los Angeles surrounded by a wide variety of beasts (besides her brothers). In addition to dogs, cats, and rabbits, her family also had a goat, chickens, chipmunks, a baby anteater, and, for a few short weeks, two baby bear cubs, who were VERY wild and untamed. Although she no longer has any exotic pets, she does have raccoons who visit her back porch, coyotes who howl at her window, and hawks that soar high overhead. She currently resides in Carpinteria, CA.

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Theodosia and the Serpents of Chaos (Theodosia Series #1) 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 54 reviews.
Sensitivemuse More than 1 year ago
Think of a combination of Nancy Drew and a little bit of Indiana Jones and you have Theo. I really did enjoy reading this book. It had a perfect blend of mystery, adventure, and paranormal characteristics that made the book enjoyable for all ages. Not only was Theo not a typical girl but she was curious, outspoken, and an adventure seeker who was not afraid of getting into danger. Her unique gift of finding the ancient curses and dispelling them is fun and different and I enjoyed her process of removing these curses from these items despite how oblivious her parents are. She does get a little lippy towards people older than her, but I like this part of her personality. It adds more to her stubborn character and adds more to her personality which makes the book all the more fun to read. The plot was really good. As usual, there is an underlying main plot underneath a few mini story arcs. I like it, although it's nothing really new or different from other novels like this one but it provides the adventure to the story and when Theo does eventually get involved it adds more adventure and quickens the plot pace. My favorite bit was when Theo impresses a crowd with her removal of a particular curse. It gave me a triumphant feeling and I cheered her on as so many adults just seem to push her away just because she's just a child. However, Theo does have flaws, and sometimes her ability to remove the curse does backfire (and it has somewhat comedic consequences). The ending provides for much of the action, which gives the story a great climax and makes way for the second book. What's also great about this story is the pace is steady and you're not slowed down at any time of the point. At each scene, you're there for a good time before moving onto the next one and there's no redundancy or over-repetitiveness. This book had a wonderful plot, an outstanding main character who's fun to read, and I think this is going to be a very exciting fun filled series! I most definitely recommend this book for people of all ages.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great for anyone who loves Ancient Egypt. I picked this book up from our local library expecting it not to be much but i was wrong!! I really liked this book it was a page turner.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Just started and I can't put it down!!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book just pulled me in. My librarian recomended it to me and it was soooooo good. Must read!¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿
Kendallj47 More than 1 year ago
Book abot a very adventerous girl Theodosia Throckmorton . Some parts in the book may be very scary for children under 7yrs. Parents will enjoy reading this book,although reccommended for ages 8-16.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book introduces Theodosia Throckmorton. A young lady of brilliant mind and special abilities whose father works in a London antiquities museum. While she endeavors to remain unobtrusive to prevent being sent away to school and far from the interesting objects, pre-WWI London, German agents and others intrude into her world.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I was really excited to get a review copy of Robin LaFevers April 2007 middle-grade mystery. And I couldn't wait to read it! In 1906 when most 11-year-old girls are polite, proper and respectful, Theodosia snoops out evil curses that haunt Egyptian antiques. She sleeps in a sarcophagus, reads hieroglyphics for fun and can sense dark magic. Her father is the Curator of the Museum of Legends and Antiquities in London and her mother is an archaeologist. But her parents are clueless about the evil curses attached to museum artifacts. Only Theo can see the dangerous magic oozing from ancient objects -- and she boldly rises to the job of getting rid of the curses. Still mistakes do happen -- like putting a curse on her beloved cat, Isis. But she keeps working to free the museum (and her cat) of evil curses by creating bewitching spells and cunning counter-curses. Sassy and bold, Theo is a delightfully original heroine. But inside she feels sad because her parents leave her alone a lot and don't seem to notice her. Still when a missing artifact endangers her family (and maybe the entire world!) Theo convinces her younger brother and a new friend (a pick-pocket) to help her. Aside from the whole idea of helping the world, she hopes that saving London may impress her parents so they'll finally notice her. This exciting mystery is filled with quirky characters, moments of humor and thrilling twists that take Theodosia all the way to Egypt. I really loved this book -- especially Theo. I hope there's a sequel in the works!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
AWESOMESAUCE! I love this book because I love mytholigy.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Loved it since I was 10!! Adventurous, and I love the author's choice of words!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Awesome I luv ttheo!!!!! Why not a percy jackson x-over maybe theo sees through mist?COOL STORY I hear a book five is coming out sometime
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love this book.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
An absolute favorite of mine to be sure. While targetted towards a younger crowd, it is actually quite a sophisticated read. The research gone into the series gives brilliant, vivid reading. The characters have wonderful depth especially Theodosia herself. Brilliant writing style with great vocabulary. I highly recommend this whole series. The only other series of similarity to recommend is the Kane Chronicles, but truly it doesn't hold a candle to Miss Theodosia Throckmorton.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A story about a young british girl with an unusual talent for seeing curses. When her mother brings home the Heart of Egypt, it is up to Theo to save Britain and the world from curses and plagues that could mean the end of the world. A fun and satisfying read that will keep you hooked from start to finish. Recommended for ages 8-12.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Favorite of all time!!!
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