Secrets of the Tombs: The Phoenix Code by Helen Moss

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Secrets of the Tombs: The Phoenix Code by Helen Moss

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Category: Confident Readers
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Linda Lawlor
Reviewed by Linda Lawlor
Summary: Ryan has accompanied his journalist mother to a dig in the Valley of the Kings. There he meets Cleo, the daughter of two of the archaeologists, and despite their differences the two young people team up to solve an ancient murder mystery. It's avoiding the present-day criminals which is the real problem.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 272 Date: July 2014
Publisher: Orion
External links: [ Author's website]
ISBN: 9781444010398

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Egypt – a land of mystery and beauty, where history surrounds you and death is always present. There are treasures to uncover, riddles to solve and a colourful and exotic world to explore. A perfect setting for this, the first in a new series of thrillers which combines intriguing landscapes, archaeology and adventure. Much of the architecture and scenery in this book really exists and can be visited, including some of the tombs and museums, and many readers will feel inspired to seek further information about this most exciting and dramatic of locations.

Ryan and Cleo are with their parents on a dig which is seeking the near-legendary Benben Stone, a mysterious pyramid-shaped mound said to confer eternal life and destructive powers on its owners. But the team's efforts are frustrated by a shadowy secret cult which is determined to find and steal the artefact for its own sinister ends, and its adherents will stop at nothing to get hold of it. The two young people stumble (literally, at times) across clues which are not definite enough to convince the adults, so they set off alone to investigate. Interestingly, their route to the truth follows that of a young priest, Rahotep, who also sought the Benben Stone more than three thousand years earlier, and the clues he left behind mean he becomes in a very real sense a companion in their quest.

Such an intriguing premise and location will carry a story for one book, but this is the first in a series, and fortunately Ms Moss does not rely simply on striking backdrops and arresting legends. In Ryan and Cleo she has created two delightful characters with whom readers will readily identify. Ryan, a gifted artist and cartoonist, makes friends easily with everyone. He is the typical goofy boy who cracks jokes to cover his embarrassment, especially in the presence of a pretty girl. Cleo on the other hand is extremely knowledgeable, able to decipher codes and hieroglyphs with ease, but she has been home-schooled as she travelled the world with her parents and is socially awkward. Their consequent misunderstandings and worries form a gently amusing framework to the main action, lightening moments of tension and providing useful life lessons. Guys – never make a joke about a girl's name, for example!

The author Helen Moss is well-known for a series of mysteries for younger readers, including Adventure Island: the Mystery of the Drowning Man and Adventure Island: The Mystery of the Whistling Caves but this book is aimed at readers at the upper end of the confident reader scale and young teens. Not only is it twice the length of her previous thrillers, but the protagonists go off to explore on their own in a foreign country and find themselves in seriously life-threatening situations more than once. It is definitely a book for both boys and girls, and really should not be missed by any fan of history or adventure: it is excellent!

We also have a review of book 2.

Two more good books which combine edge-of-the-seat adventure with codes, puzzles and mysteries are The Forbidden Stone (The Copernicus Legacy) by Tony Abbott and Ruby Redfort: Catch Your Death by Lauren Child. You might appreciate The Sword Thief (The 39 Clues) by Peter Lerangis.

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Buy Secrets of the Tombs: The Phoenix Code by Helen Moss at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Secrets of the Tombs: The Phoenix Code by Helen Moss at Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
Buy Secrets of the Tombs: The Phoenix Code by Helen Moss at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Secrets of the Tombs: The Phoenix Code by Helen Moss at


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