Greetings, Beloveds! I know I’ve been away for a few weeks, but I’m back to blogging! Recently, I’ve returned to my once voracious, reading ways. Yes, I’m so charmed to be back on course. Writers are readers. Punto. 🙂
Anyway, I lost all sense of time while immersed in Fiona Ingram’s award-winning novel, THE SECRET OF THE SACRED SCARAB. Mind you, before reading, most times, I set parameters on my time, considering my day, like yours, is replete with adventure. My habit is to read for 30 minutes and then I’m on to another scene in the production of my day. Not so with this wonderfully crafted read. From the opening page, I felt as if I were off on an adventure right there beside young Adam, as he tingles with the excitement of it all. A trip to Egypt in the company of his beloved Aunt Isabel, “an unconventional journalist who jets all over the world researching incredible stories,” a perfect guardian for protagonists, Adam and Justin; Gran, the lively and entertaining matriarch, who loves bright red polish, loads of jewelry and colored tresses; and Adam’s cherished cousin, Justin, who feels more like his trusted big brother. I enjoyed them all. Fiona Ingram has a penchant for creating believable, multifaceted characters. Some of my favs from her marquee are Laila, the Brigadier Brice-Gibbons and his opinionated wife, Amaryllis, and Professor of Egyptology, Ebrahim Faza, whose tags were sterling. I loved that he carried a cane with an elaborate silver top carved in the shape of a jackal’s head. He was an ideal guardian of the underworld and a smooth, well-mannered guardian for Adam and Justin.
From the moment the family’s plane lands in Cairo, the adventure springs to life in Ingram’s prowess for plotting and description. Like Adam and Justin, the reader is plunged into the sweltering heat of the places they visit. We see the colorful countryside, the milling crowds, and we feel the amazement of visiting a line-up of historic locates on the tour. Ingram does a stupendous job weaving impressive research into the fabric of the story. If details are pixels, then Fiona makes each chapter a picture worth a thousand words.
I understand why the novel captured a queue of awards and recognition since its publication. It is so worthy of not only capturing the attention of children but adults also. It boasts the elements of a classic adventure story. The adventurer is an intelligent, witty and perceptive young boy, Adam. He absolutely loves learning about one of his favorite topics, Egypt. A child, he is playful yet thoughtful. He is aware of the feelings of others, and his heart is ever open. I love that he is willing to place his life on the line to save others, a characteristic of a real hero. With Justin by his side, he evaluates each clue with a marked diligence and intellect that is lauded by even the story’s scholars.
That Justin makes an inspiring “Watson.” He is well suited to stand beside Adam, lending his fearless support and intelligence wherever and whenever he can. Undaunted, he forges ahead, even if he teases his younger cousin sometimes, as boys his age will do. His knowledge about Egypt is impressive also, but he has his doubts here and there about the whole adventure. When Adam puts his life in jeopardy to save one of their kidnappers from a horrible death in sinking sand, Justin thinks of leaving the man to his fate, like their watching captor, but Adam persists, encouraging him, and Justin rises to the occasion.
The mystery of the scarab and the Scarab King and the finding of the Scarab King’s tomb is quite fascinating. As I read, I imagined watching a movie, each scene larger than life, filled with wonder and hieroglyphics and dark pools in golden tombs and watching eyes and good food and breathtaking scenes of the pyramids, the Sphinx and other mysteries of the Land of Kemet.
That culprit, Dr. Faisal Khalid, the respected head of the Ancient Egyptian Archaeological Research Program and the Department of Antiquities Research at the Egyptian Museum, is cunning and, you got it, ambitious. His motive for acquiring money, power and fame drive him…across the desert, over dark water, and straight through entries that might not be a good idea for his track record. Yet he goes where he must towards his journey to be the Son of Fire and Light.
And let me say, I loved the chapter names and the impressive clues! They kept the reader barreling on to the next adventure, beautifully placed, as they were, throughout the novel. The sacred scarab and Shemsu-Hor are only the beginning! You will revel in others yourself when you read this wholly fascinating story.
There were so many characteristics I adored about Ingram’s magical read. When Adam and Justin were kidnapped by the bad guys and had to bear up on their own in the desert with strangers, they depended on their sheet wit, faith and courage to survive. Ingram placed Adam and Justin in “sink or think” situations, and the boys made ample use of their problem-solving propensity, knowledge of Egypt and their ability to face the moment head on. They came into a deeper understanding of the power of working together, the power of one. Aunt Isabel and Gran were separated in the course of the story, and each depended on her ingenuity to survive. Okay, toss in humor as well, for I loved Gran and Aunt Isabel’s outlook on life and people.
When I arrived at the final, lit, Kindle page of the story, I discovered the opening chapter of Book Two in the series, THE CHRONICLES OF THE STONE. This new installment, destined to be a classic, quite like its predecessor, is THE SEARCH OF THE STONE OF EXCALIBUR. Yes, Adam and Justin are off on another fascinating adventure, to Scotland, but this time the boys are standing in the departure lounge of the Johannesburg airport, awaiting an unusually tardy Aunt Isabel, who, to my surprise, and theirs as well, eventually shows up briskly leading a young black girl through the crowds. She’s about ten years old, is carrying a suitcase, and has big brown eyes and black braids bouncing about her head. The intelligent little cutie is Kim Maleka! I was like: “Alright now! Do it, Fiona Robyn! I’m loving the imaginative blessing of your quill!”
The boys are shocked. Classic Justin, he’s ready to pull the plug on the trip, but Adam suggests, perhaps, she’s lost. Their aunt is being a Good Samaritan. Not so! Kim’s accompanying them and there’s nothing they can do about it…least of all, perturb Aunt Isabel, who is already late for her plane to Paris to check on James Kinnaird, who has been hurt on a dig. And she has no time to put up with two, shocked nephews. She gives them travel instructions and the adventures begins anew!
I enthusiastically recommend Fiona Ingram’s THE CHRONICLES OF THE STONE series. If you love adventure stories with humorous scenes, lovable characters, great pace, wit, and plotting, this is the series for you! Enjoy!
THE SECRET OF THE SACRED SCARAB is available on Amazon and other sites where books are sold. Visit the author, Fiona Ingram, at http://www.secretofthesacredscarab.com and http://www.FionaIngram.com. Follow her on Twitter @FionaRobyn.