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The Pharaoh's Secret

The Pharaoh's Secret

4.5 13
by Marissa Moss

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Filled with intrigue and surprises, The Pharaoh’s Secret includes Marissa Moss’s original illustrations throughout. The novel skillfully weaves history with a personal story full of heartache and family tensions that will entice and enthrall readers.
When Talibah and her younger brother, Adom, accompany their father, an academic, to


Filled with intrigue and surprises, The Pharaoh’s Secret includes Marissa Moss’s original illustrations throughout. The novel skillfully weaves history with a personal story full of heartache and family tensions that will entice and enthrall readers.
When Talibah and her younger brother, Adom, accompany their father, an academic, to his homeland of modern Egypt on his research assignment, they become involved in a mystery surrounding an ancient, lost pharaoh—a rare queen ruler. Someone has tried to wipe her from the record, to make it appear as if she never existed! She needs Talibah to help her and her high priest, Senenmut, reclaim their rightful place in history. Exotic locales, mysterious strangers, and a sinister archaeologist round out an adventure that is full of riddles, old tales, and, most surprisingly of all, a link to Talibah’s and Adom’s mother, who died mysteriously.

F&P level: W

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
A spring break trip to Egypt becomes more intriguing when 14-year-old narrator Talibah discovers a mystery regarding Egypt's only female pharaoh, Hatshepsut, which turns out to involve Talibah's family. Not that she's initially thrilled about this turn of events: “My goal for this trip is to lie by the pool and get a great tan, not run errands for some Egyptian ghost, even if that ghost could be my mother,” Talibah quips (her mother died five years earlier). Talking sphinxes and gods, as well as time travel back to Egypt's 18th dynasty set Moss's (the Amelia's Notebook series) thriller in the realm of fantasy, as Talibah attempts to solve the mystery and put souls to rest. The villain, in the guise of a family friend and tour guide, is largely one-dimensional, though Moss fills the Egyptian setting with evocative imagery. The family dynamics between Talibah, her younger brother and her grieving scholarly father prove to be one of the most compelling aspects of the story. Talibah's b&w sketches support the narrative with pen-and-ink images of obelisks, hieroglyphics, maps and family trees. Ages 9–13. (Oct.)
Judith A. Hayn
Talibah means "seeker of truth," and her name frames the plot of this tale of intrigue and adventure set in modern Egypt. Talibah and her younger brother Adom accompany their Egyptologist father on a research field trip. While there, the teen heroine becomes tangled up in a mystery surrounding an unusual queen who ruled as a pharaoh. She seems to be disappearing from the ruins around Luxor along with her high priest protector. Talibah and Adom combine wits and ingenuity to overcome ancient curses, curious relics, near drowning, a poisonous scorpion, and a deadly cobra, along with an evil uncle as they help the female pharaoh resume her place in history. At the same time, the two discover a link with their Egyptian mother, who died mysteriously. The author includes notes that detail her interest in ancient Egypt and the grief of losing a loved one. Reviewer: Judith A. Hayn
Children's Literature - Elizabeth Fronk
Talibah, fourteen, and her brother Adom, ten, have come to Egypt with their father. Upon arriving, Talibah receives a unique bracelet and a small model of a building. She also begins to have strange dreams and hears "Find him." While Talibah and Adom visit Egyptian sites, it is clear they are also dealing with their mother's death, in spite of her being gone for five years. In an Egyptian museum, Talibah discovers Egypt's only female pharaoh, Hatshepsut, and notices Hatshepsut's servants wear the same bracelet she received on arrival. She also meets Rashid Khalfani, a family friend. Rashid takes Talibah and Adom to his excavation site in spite of misgivings. At the site, Talibah discovers that evidence of Hashepsut is being destroyed and she must figure out who is doing this. This mystery has many things to recommend—a curious and talented heroine, a younger, eager sibling, ancient Egypt as a setting, and historical information. However, things take very long to develop and the history becomes very dense. Anyone without some background in ancient Egypt may feel overwhelmed. Talibah's drawings of various objects are a wonderful addition and help keep one interested. Young adult readers, especially teen girls, may be intrigued with Talibah's story but must be willing to endure the swift ending and possibly confusing history. Reviewer: Elizabeth Fronk
School Library Journal
Gr 5–8—From the moment they arrive in Cairo, 14-year-old Talibah and her 10-year-old brother, Adom, feel connected to the land of their Egyptian ancestors and are swept up in an ancient mystery involving the disappearance of the pharaoh Hatshepsut's chief architect, Senenmut. Talibah even hears a voice saying "Find him!" But is it the voice of the ancient queen or the voice of her mother, who died mysteriously five years earlier? With a sinister "old family friend," they travel to Luxor and explore tombs and temples. Talibah receives a variety of messages, and her brother buys her an antique bracelet with magically protective powers. Talibah's sketches are included—pictures of carvings, tomb paintings, and hieroglyphs. Moss has a good sense for what might interest middle school readers about Egyptian culture, and her protagonists are believable. Their improbable adventure will leave readers with the feeling they have toured the Valley of Kings themselves, with an able and patient guide.—Kathleen Isaacs, Children's Literature Specialist, Pasadena, MD
Kirkus Reviews
There's no reason an author can't step away from a successful formula to try something new. This time, however, the experiment doesn't pay off. Moss, author/illustrator of the highly graphic Amelia series, mixes historical intrigue, family issues and a brief episode of time travel, but the disparate elements never quite jell in this full-length, lightly illustrated novel. Talibah, 14, is visiting Egypt with her widowed father and younger brother. Immediately odd visions plague her and mysterious figures press unusual gifts into her hands. Convinced that a long-dead (female) pharaoh seeks help in locating her lost love, Talibah follows physical clues and vague hints to determine what became of the ancient architect Senenmut. With her brother Adom's help she solves the mystery, provoking a deadly attack and reconciling with her grieving father. The author's interests in Egyptian history and in exploring the impact of the loss of a parent is made clear in a concluding note. Unfortunately, the first-person narration varies from stilted to overly adult and never quite brings Talibah to life, a flaw that the busy plot just can't overcome. Disappointing. (Fantasy. 10-14)

Product Details

Abrams, Harry N., Inc.
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.80(w) x 8.56(h) x 1.12(d)
810L (what's this?)
Age Range:
8 - 12 Years

Meet the Author

Marissa Moss has written and illustrated many books for children, including the popular Amelia’s Notebook series. She lives in Berkeley, California. Visit her Web site at www.marissamoss.com.

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Pharaoh's Secret 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 13 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
My mom got me the book and i could not put it down.....i rlly luved it super duper much(:
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is still one of my favorites. I LOVED THE DRAWINGS! The plot was one of a kind and so were the characters.
majesticviolet655 More than 1 year ago
Best book ever so informational and intriuging!!!!!!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love this book!! I even reckomended this book to my teachers. I absolutle love it! I also think the drawings are awesome
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book kept me in suspense from the first chapter! This is a great book. I loved the story and the plot line. I was surprised that I was completely satisfied with the ending too! You can never be sure that that will happen with mysteries but I think that Marissa Moss did a great job wrapping up all of the loose ends. This is a great book and I think that both girls and boys would like it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Awesome book with many suprises
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was really cool .I really liked it . It's awesome .and cool.read it
Stephanie Erlacher More than 1 year ago
this is just a magnificent mystery story where the saying 'never judge a book by their cover' comes in handy
vetangel More than 1 year ago
Reading this book made me feel like I was there and in the middle of what was happening. This book also reveiwed what I did in class about Ancient Egypt. It coverd most things, but I also learned more. It was fun to read.I couldn't put it down. It was a mysterious and interesting book. I loved it so much that I recomended it to my Social Studies teacher that tought me all about Ancient Egypt. I was thankful that she tought me these things and gave us that project, or I wouldn't even bother reading it. The Pharaoahs Secret was one of the best books I've ever read!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Its an awsome book it helped me in history cuz off all the conection with Egypt AN AMAZING BOOK!!!
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