Theodosia and the Serpents of Chaos (Theodosia Series #1)
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Theodosia and the Serpents of Chaos (Theodosia Series #1)

4.5 53
by R. L. LaFevers, Charlotte Parry
     
 

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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.

When Theo's mother returns from her latest archaeological dig bearing the Heart of Egypt--a legendary amulet belonging to an ancient tomb--Theo learns that it comes inscribed with a curse so black

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Overview

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.

When Theo's mother returns from her latest archaeological dig bearing the Heart of Egypt--a legendary amulet belonging to an ancient tomb--Theo learns that it comes inscribed with a curse so black and vile that it threatens to crumble the British Empire from within and start a war too terrible to imagine. Intent on returning the malevolent artifact to its rightful place, Theo devises a daring plan to put things right. But even with the help of her younger brother, a wily street urchin, and the secret society known as the Brotherhood of the Chosen Keepers, it won't be easy . . . she quickly finds herself pursued down dark alleys, across an ocean, through the bustling crowds of Cairo, and straight into the heart of an ancient mystery. Theo will have to call upon everything she's ever learned in order to prevent the rising chaos from destroying her country--and herself!

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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)
From the Publisher

Intrepid Theosodia, age 11, narrates a fantasy steeped in invented and authentic Egyptology, clashing secret societies and pre-WWI European intrigue.
Kirkus Reviews

It's the delicious, precise, and atmospheric details (nicely extended in Tanaka's few, stylized illustrations) that will capture and hold readers, from the contents of Theodosia's curse-removing kit to descriptions of the museum after hours, when Theodosia sleeps in a sarcophagus to ward off the curses of "disgruntled dead things." Kids who feel overlooked by their own distracted parents may feel a tug of recognition as Theodosia yearns for attention, and those interested in archeology will be drawn to the story's questions about the ownership and responsible treatment of ancient artifacts. A sure bet for Harry Potter fans, as well as Joan Aiken's and Eva Ibbotson's readers. This imaginative, supernatural mystery will find word-of-mouth popularity.
Booklist, ALA, Starred Review

"Vivid descriptions of fog-shrouded London and hot, dusty Cairo enhance the palpable gothic atmosphere, while page-turning action and a plucky, determined heroine add to the book's appeal. . . A fine bet for a booktalk to classes studying ancient Egypt." School Library Journal

"There are surprises aplenty in LaFevers's spirited debut, a sort of Indiana Jones for girls and a perfect blend of mystery and humor. . . . Loads of evocative Egyptian history and an oh-so-plucky, resourceful narrator make this the first volume in a series to watch." Publishers Weekly, Starred

"Danger, mysterious museums stuffed with exotic treasures, and children who best adult evildoers are surefire ways to engage young readers, and LaFevers has combined them to good advantage here." Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

"...with Theo Throckmorton...girls have a truly independent role model." TimeOut New York

"Readers interested in archaeology will be drawn to the story's questions." Book Links January 2008 Book Links, ALA

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

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781441846327
Publisher:
Brilliance Audio
Publication date:
04/28/2010
Series:
Theodosia Series, #1
Edition description:
Unabridged, 7 CDs, 7 hrs. 58 min.
Pages:
7
Product dimensions:
6.50(w) x 5.40(h) x 1.10(d)
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 streeeeaked 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 iin 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, Moooooother 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.

Quickly.

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 (ol

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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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