Orphan of the Sun by Gill Harvey
|Orphan of the Sun by Gill Harvey|
|Category: Confident Readers|
|Reviewer: Jill Murphy|
|Summary: An enjoyable mystery story for confident readers as young as nine right up to the mid-teens who enjoy history. It's well-researched and the central character has great appeal.|
|Buy? Maybe||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 320||Date: March 2007|
|Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC|
Meryt-Re lives in Set Maat in Ancient Egypt, home to the pharoah's tomb builders. The entire village and all its people have just one purpose - to build a tomb worthy of the ruler. Society is rigidly structured and sons follow fathers into their various professions - stone mason, painter, scribe. Meryt-Re falls slightly outside this rigid structure, for she is an orphan being cared for by her aunt and uncle. As in most organised societies, people like Meryt-Re disturbs the natural order. They throw things out. And Meryt-Re throws things out even more because she is an unusual child - she has dreams which seem to foretell the future. Ancient Egyptian society is also very superstitious and Meryt-Re is viewed with suspicion not only by the villagers, but also by her own family.
Faced with an uncle desperate to rid himself of this potentially unlucky niece by marrying her off to an unwanted suitor, strange goings-on at the tombs involving stolen precious amulets and a sick cousin hovering between this world and the next, Meryt-Re has her work cut out if she hopes to pick her way through the customs of her society and into a happy life. Even with the help of Teti, the village rekhet, or wise-woman, Meryt's future seems uncertain.
Orphan of the Sun is a really enjoyable mystery adventure story for late primary and early secondary readers, particularly those with an interest in history. Any child who enjoys the immensely popular Roman Mysteries series by Caroline Lawrence will like Meryt-Re, as will those who enjoy slightly more demanding reads from people like Michelle Paver. It's awesomely researched and the mystery is interwoven with a wealth of detail on the organisation and structure of Ancient Egyptian society outside of the royal courts, yet the book remains fairly light and undemanding. Occasionally, Meryt-Re and her friends slip into some modern sensibilities but it's not often and the whole thing doesn't feel like Hardy Boys with pyramids in the same way that Lawrence's books feel like Hardy Boys with togas.
Recommended for junior history buffs in the late primary years and also as a light read for those in the first years at secondary school.
My thanks to the publisher, Bloomsbury, for sending the book.
The obvious connection is to Caroline Lawrence's Roman Mysteries series but Orphan of the Sun is better realised, despite Lawrence's popularity. Children who enjoy historical fiction should also look at Michelle Paver's Chronicles of Ancient Darkness or Jackie French's Slave Girl.
You can read more book reviews or buy Orphan of the Sun by Gill Harvey at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy Orphan of the Sun by Gill Harvey at Amazon.com.
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